The water-saving strategies assessment (Wssa) framework: An application for the urmia lake restoration program

Somayeh Shadkam*, Pieter van Oel, Pavel Kabat, Amin Roozbahani, Fulco Ludwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Increases in water demand often result in unsustainable water use, leaving insufficient amounts of water for the environment. Therefore, water-saving strategies have been introduced to the environmental policy agenda in many (semi)-arid regions. As many such interventions failed to reach their objectives, a comprehensive tool is needed to assess them. We introduced a constructive framework to assess the proposed strategies by estimating five key components of the water balance in an area: (1) Demand; (2) Availability; (3) Withdrawal; (4) Depletion and (5) Outflow. The framework was applied to assess the Urmia Lake Restoration Program (ULRP) which aimed to increase the basin outflow to the lake to reach 3.1 × 109 m3 yr−1. Results suggested that ULRP could help to increase the Outflow by up to 57%. However, successful implementation of the ULRP was foreseen to be impeded because of three main reasons: (i) decreasing return flows; (ii) increased Depletion; (iii) the impact of climate change. Decreasing return flows and increasing Depletion were expected due to the introduction of technologies that increase irrigation efficiency, while climate change could decrease future water availability by an estimated 3–15%. We suggest that to reach the intervention target, strategies need to focus on reducing water depletion rather than water withdrawals. The framework can be used to comprehensively assess water-saving strategies, particularly in water-stressed basins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2789
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Climate change
  • Rebound effect
  • Urmia Lake
  • Water governance
  • Water resources management
  • Water-saving strategies assessment framework


Dive into the research topics of 'The water-saving strategies assessment (Wssa) framework: An application for the urmia lake restoration program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this