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New research analyzes benefits, risks and best practices in large-scale water storage development
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) released its paper “Large-Scale Water Storage in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus: Perspectives on Benefits, Risks and Best Practice,” which provides an overview of the current status of large-scale artificial water storage and explores emerging opportunities for water storage schemes to enhance water, energy and food security in the future.
The paper presents a comprehensive typology of large-scale water storage structures, analyzes the risks, benefits and trade-offs posed by different storage options, and highlights good practices and lessons learned from past experiences. The authors assert that rising demand for water, energy and food will likely result in more construction of large-scale storage in many regions around the world.
“Water storage and sustainable hydropower schemes can support economic development, build water security and buffer against increasing rainfall variability," said Andreas Lindström of SIWI. “It will be an important factor in expanding renewable energy production, providing irrigation water to grow more food and maintain secure local drinking water supplies for communities around the world.“
The paper also warns that environmental and social impacts of water storage and hydropower development can outweigh the benefits provided if projects are poorly planned and they do not take adequate action to protect ecosystems and include local communities in the planning process. The paper offers a number of ways to safeguard beneficial outcomes and lower the negative consequences of storage schemes by following best practice frameworks that have been produced over the past two decades.