To address the current conflicting interests in water allocation in Almeria, the ALTAGUAX project aims to operationalize a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) for collaborative group decision-making. This implies both the development of the SDSS and the organization of a series of workshops to create a multi-stakeholder platform, in which stakeholders are trained to work with the SDSS and group discussions are facilitated.
Water management in the Andarax river basin is a long-term decision-making problem. Adequate allocation decisions must be made in order to meet increasing demands of the metropolitan area of Almeria.
There is a need for decision-makers to make integrated evaluations of management alternatives in a way that represents the needs and interests of different stakeholder groups. To that end, a computer-based Decision Support System (further referred to as DSS) is blueprinted in ALERT, a project in the 6th Framework Programme of the EU, which aims to optimize sustainable planning and management alternatives according to their socio-economic and environmental performance.
Field inquiries in 2005 and 2006 - in the framework of the EU FP6 project ALERT - revealed the increasing scarcity of both groundwater and surface water and the lack of proper wastewater treatment as the two main problems in the Andarax river basin. Furthermore, it has been shown that institutional changes (such as transfers of management competences from national to regional levels) and a general lack of transparency jeopardize the development of sustainable management strategies at the catchment scale.
This project aims at improving sustainable water management in the Andarax river basin, through development of a decision support tool with an interactive GIS-based interface that allows stakeholders to evaluate different management scenarios in the basin.
The key deliverables of this project are an operational tool for group negotiation of optimal water allocation alternatives and a feedback-supported protocol for organizing negotiation workshops.
UNESCO-IHE is developing a Decision Support Software and web-GIS-based interface in collaboration with the Andalusian Centre for the Environment (CEAMA) in Granada and the University of Almeria. In this initiative, UNESCO-IHE is leading the overall conceptual SDSS design and overseeing the modelling aspect.
Van Cauwenbergh’s work in the Andarax basin during the EU FP6 ALERT project raised a lot of interest from the Andalusian Water Agency; it was decided to invest in a project that would further develop the DSS draft. Part of the DSS relies on optimization modelling that was initiated by Tilmant.
Several MSc students have been involved in the ALTAGUAX project and completed thesis papers on developing alternatives and identifying participatory processes and needs.
UNESCO-IHE’s expertise in organizing and facilitating workshops is used to guide a set of 5 workshops during the project, in which stakeholders are encouraged to discuss and compromise on different water allocation alternatives in the basin.
The project has a strong capacity-building component that aims to train policy-makers and stakeholders in water resources optimization, responses to changing environment impacts, and use of the DSS tool. Topics covered in such training include multi-criteria analysis.