Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Managed Aquifer Recharge System for Irrigation under Climate Change Conditions in Southern Spain

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Droughts and climate change in regions with profitable irrigated agriculture will impact groundwater resources with associated direct and indirect impacts. In the integrated water resource management (IWRM), managed aquifer recharge (MAR) offers efficient solutions to protect, conserve, and ensure survival of aquifers and associated ecosystems, as the Water Framework Directive requires. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the socio-economic feasibility of the MAR system in the overexploited Boqueron aquifer in Hellin (Albacete, Spain) under climate change and varying irrigation demand conditions. To assess, in monetary terms, the profitability of the MAR system, a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) has been carried out. The results for the period 2020-2050 showed that the most favourable situations would be scenarios involving artificial recharge, in which future irrigation demand remains at the present level or falls below 10% of the current irrigation surface, as these scenarios generated an internal rate of return of between 53% and 57%. Additionally, the regeneration of the habitat will take between 5 and 9 years. Thus, the IWRM with artificial recharge will guarantee the sustainability of irrigation of the agricultural lands of Hellin and will achieve water balance even in severe climate change conditions.
Aquifer overexploitation, Managed aquifer recharge, Climate change, Decision support system, Cost-benefit analysis, Irrigation
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Rupérez-Moreno, C., Pérez-Sánchez, J., Senent-Aparicio, J., Flores-Asenjo, P., & Paz-Aparicio, C. (2017). Cost-benefit analysis of the managed aquifer recharge system for irrigation under climate change conditions in southern Spain. Water, 9(5), 343.