Managing water supply resources in karstic environment (temperate climate)

E. Rozos, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Managing water supply resources in karstic environment (temperate climate), UNESCO Workshop - Integrated Urban Water Management in Temperate Climates, Belgrade, doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.28756.40329/1, 2006.



Throughout history, karstic aquifers have had an important role in urban development around the Mediterranean and especially in areas with insufficient surface water resources. Athens is a characteristic example of a city with very long history whose water supply has been determined on karst water. In ancient Athens, water supply was based on groundwater resources, both from karstic and porous aquifers. Specifically, the two main aqueducts, the Peisistratean and the Hadrianian, conveyed water from karstic springs at foothills of surrounding mountains, whereas porous aquifers were exploited by an extended network of wells. In modern times the water needs of Athens are covered mainly by surface water resources. Four major reservoirs, three artificial and a natural lake, are used for water supply. Nevertheless the karstic aquifers remain of high importance because they interact with surface water bodies and provide additional storage, especially useful in prolonged drought periods. Thus, karstic water was crucial to enhance the Athens water supply system during the recent drought period (1988-1994). Today, water management has become a very demanding task, which should consider the conflicting targets of cost efficiency and risk minimisation. In such a management framework, the interaction of surface and ground water resources and the high complexity of the karstic flows, along with the need to compromise between the conflicting targets have made imperative the development and implementation of advanced computational tools. Such tools can help design a water management strategy according to an acceptable risk against various scenarios including population variation, technical failures and even major disasters. According to this logic, a decision support tool for the management of the Athens water supply system has been recently developed, which is based on a holistic hydrological and hydrosystem modelling framework, with special emphasis to the modelling of karst aquifers.

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