Roadmap for Climate Change Adaptation in Southern Portugal – a water utility experience

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Olga Martins (Portugal) 1; Angela Valadas (Portugal) 1; Ana Ribeiro (Portugal) 2; Joana Coelho (Portugal) 2; Marta Carvalho (Portugal) 2

1 - AgdA- Aguas Publicas do Alentejo SA; 2 - Aguas de Portugal

AgdA – Águas Públicas do Alentejo, S.A. is a public limitedcompany, operating in the water sector in Alentejo, a Mediterranean climate region in southern Portugal.

The utility is developing its Strategic Plan for Climate Change Adaptation, which aims to stablish an integrated strategy in the urban water cycle, enhancing the company’s resilience to impacts caused by climate change (CC) and extreme weather events. This study results from the utility awareness that risks from future climate are an emerging concern for the water sector, particularly in the case of AgdA, because Mediterranean is considered a ‘hot spot’ of CC, e.g., it displays an ongoing tendency towards warmer and drier weather, according to CC Scenarios.

With this goal, an adaptation approach was adopted, based on an iterative process of identifying the impacts and vulnerabilities of CC in AgdA systems and infrastructures; assessing the risks of these impacts on the service; and planning cost-effective adaptation measures to reduce the consequences of CC and to increase systems resilience.

A risk assessment was carried out to identify the main climate risks that affect AgdA’s water and wastewater systems. The results showed that one of the major risk related to wastewater systems is the interaction with the natural environment, as receiving water bodies may become more stressed, leading to more stringent requirements on discharges. In water systems the major risk is the reduction of water availability levels, due to the progressive reduction of precipitation foreseen for the region. This justified a special focus on the balance between water availability and consumption.

In order to balance the consumption and availability in each of AgdA origins, an exploration simulation model was developed. This model allows simulating the water stress of the systems in each source, offering a decision support tool under two perspectives:

  • From the Water Resources perspective: evaluating the WEI+, quotient between the availability and the consumptions in the water body under study;
  • From the Water Services perspective: analysing the probability of guaranteeing urban needs, based on the evolution of the consumption and the availability at source.

With this Plan, AgdA has now information and tools that allows to better understand climate change-related risks and opportunities and to develop a preventive and adaptive approach in a context of future uncertainty, ensuring that CC impacts are embed in the company’s planning and managing practices and directing its strategy and resources to what is effectively critical.