Natali, J. Kondolf, G.M. Landeiro, C. Christian-Smith, J. Scheuer, S. Grantham, T.
Year of Publication:
Working Paper, Institute of Urban and Regional Development 2009,01
In Mediterranean climates, mild year-round temperatures support comfortable human settlement with rich agricultural regions. The climate's long summer drought, seasonal river flow, high inter-annual variability in precipitation and episodic floods threaten these settlements, leading to highly manipulated hydrologic systems. The degree of hydrological alteration and consequent ecological change is typically much greater in Mediterranean climate rivers than humid-climate systems1. Dams, diversions, irrigation channels, storage and distribution facilities simultaneously restrict flow regimes, support economic development and destroy the native biological communities in the Mediterranean. Overcoming the complex relationships among climate, economy and our entangled legal and political institutions challenge the restoration potential of Mediterranean climate river systems worldwide. While the EuropeanWater Framework Directive (WFD) promises a streamlined institutional structure with the scope and authority to develop and regulate basinscale management plans, the long-standing local needs for flood defense, water treatment and water supply infrastructure will be implemented by municipalities, land owners and farmers on the ground. Collaboration with researchers in other Mediterranean climate regions holds promise for defining solutions.