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Multiple-source water demands of a representative agent population under various food-water-energy scenarios: A hydro-economic analysis of the Upper Bhima basin, India

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Christian Klassert, Anjuli Jain Figueroa, Yuanzao Zhu, Raphael Karutz, Hennrich Zozmann, Bernd Klauer, Erik Gawel, Steven M. Gorelick

December 2020 American Geophysical Union meeting, San Francisco, California 

In recent years, India has increasingly become a hotspot of urban water supply challenges. In the Upper Bhima basin, rapidly growing water demands from households and businesses challenge the long-run sustainability of the existing water supply system under increasing fluctuations in availability. In order to mitigate shortages, the various types of water users complement the available piped water with additional supply from various other sources, including dug wells and tube wells, as well as private markets for water delivered by tanker trucks. Obtaining water from these alternative sources requires varying degrees of energy inputs. A resource competition with food production influences the extraction costs of well water and the sales price of tanker water. This highlights that food-water-energy (FWE) nexus linkages are key in understanding future water demands. Here, we use an artificial population of more than 200,000 representative agents, reflecting different types of water users across a one square kilometer grid of the Upper Bhima basin, to conduct a hydro-economic simulation of demands for water from different sources. Locally parameterized econometric demand functions and behavioral rules capture resource demands under various FWE scenarios, driven by projections of spatial population distributions, income developments, and commercial establishment numbers. The simulation maps potential future water demands across space and societal groups, in order to identify hotspots of potential water stress. A spatial price-equilibrium model simulates the emergence of private tanker water markets as a coping mechanism. The results allow us to assess future water supply challenges in the Upper Bhima basin from an economic perspective and provide insights into the efforts required to mitigate them.