Water shortages worsened by reservoir effects

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


  • Giuliano Di Baldassarre
  • Niko Wanders
  • Amir AghaKouchak
  • Linda Kuil
  • Ted I.E. Veldkamp
  • Margaret Garcia
  • Pieter R. van Oel
  • Korbinian Breinl

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Uppsala University
  • CNDS
  • Utrecht University
  • University of California, Irvine
  • TU Wien
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Arizona State University
  • Wageningen University and Research Centre


The expansion of reservoirs to cope with droughts and water shortages is hotly debated in many places around the world. We argue that there are two counterintuitive dynamics that should be considered in this debate: supply–demand cycles and reservoir effects. Supply–demand cycles describe instances where increasing water supply enables higher water demand, which can quickly offset the initial benefits of reservoirs. Reservoir effects refer to cases where over-reliance on reservoirs increases vulnerability, and therefore increases the potential damage caused by droughts. Here we illustrate these counterintuitive dynamics with global and local examples, and discuss policy and research implications.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-622
Number of pages6
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2018