The environmental flows implementation challenge: Insights and recommendations across water‐limited systems

Wineland, S.M., Bașağaoğlu, H., Fleming, J., Friedman, J., Garza‐Diaz, L., Kellogg, W., Koch, J., Lane, B.A., et al. (2021). The environmental flows implementation challenge: Insights and recommendations across water‐limited systems. WIREs Water e1565. 10.1002/wat2.1565.

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Environmental flows (e-flows) are powerful tools for sustaining freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem services, but their widespread implementation faces numerous social, political, and economic barriers. These barriers are amplified in water-limited systems where strong trade-offs exist between human water needs and freshwater ecosystem protection. We synthesize the complex, multidisciplinary challenges that exist in these systems to help identify targeted solutions to accelerate the adoption and implementation of environmental flows initiatives. We present case studies from three water-limited systems in North America and synthesize the major barriers to implementing environmental flows. We identify four common barriers: (a) lack of authority to implement e-flows in water governance structures, (b) fragmented water governance in transboundary water systems, (c) declining water availability and increasing variability under climate change, and (d) lack of consideration of non-biophysical factors. We then formulate actionable recommendations for decision makers facing these barriers when working towards implementing environmental flows: (a) modify or establish a water governance framework to recognize or allow e-flows, (b) strive for collaboration across political jurisdictions and social, economic, and environmental sectors, and (c) manage adaptively for climate change in e-flows planning and recommendations.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Water Security (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2021 16:00
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2021 16:00

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