Potential Benefits of Conjunctive Water Management

More water resources available for use and lower risk of water shortages

By transferring water between different components of the natural water cycle, mobilizing non-conventional water resources, or focusing at optimizing the mix of water of different origins in water use, Conjunctive Water Management makes more resources of available for use (for quantity or quality reasons) and reducecs risk of water shortages.

Water resources sustainability

Most of the forms of Conjunctive Water Management intend to increase the quantities of water available for human uses. Water managers have to decide on the balance between contri­bution to human water use and to the sustainability of water resources and related ecosystems. They should also be keen on the allocation to different users, e.g. when enhanced upstream water availability would reduce availability for downstream users.

Environmental benefits  

Environmental benefits include in particular Flood control, Reduction of water pollution hazards and Impacts, Salinity control, Ecosystem conservation.

Economic and social benefits

Conjunctive Water Management techniques usually produce significant economic and social benefits, provided that they are properly tuned to the local conditions. In some cases, the efforts and benefits occur at the individual level (e.g. harvesting rain water from roof catchments to enhance domestic water security), in other cases they are shared by all inhabitants of a certain river basin or area.

Elimination or reduction of planning flaws and errors

A still rather common error in this category is so-called ‘double-counting’ of the available surface water and groundwater resources in an area, especially if both water cycle components are developed and managed separately. This error results from ignoring the usually very substantial overlap between the groundwater and surface water budgets.

Sustainable Development Goals

Important global priorities related to water, cur­rently promoted by international organisations, are (1) the adoption of Integrated Water Resources Management, (2) adaptation to Climate Change and (3) the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The potential benefits of Conjunctive Water Management, as outlined above, are very well in line with the aims pursued by these global policy priorities, which confirms the synergy potential between them. They also help fulfil ambitions such as moving towards a circular economy.