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Decentralized water supply by reservoir network reduces power demand for water distribution in a semi-arid basin

Nascimento, Antônia Tatiana Pinheiro do, Cavalcanti, Natália Holanda Maia, Castro, Bruno Parente Leitão de, Medeiros, Pedro Henrique Augusto
Hydrological sciences journal 2019 v.64 no.1 pp. 80-91
altitude, basins, decentralization, energy efficiency, semiarid zones, water distribution, water supply, watersheds, Brazil
In the Brazilian semi-arid region, thousands of small dams have been built over time to enhance water availability, accumulating water and hydraulic energy at high altitudes. Simulations were performed in this study to assess how the arrangement of reservoirs impacts on the power demand for water distribution in the Banabuiú River Basin (19 800 km²), Brazil. The power required to pump water from 1405 reservoirs to all districts with diffuse demands is 6.5 GWh/year, whereas in the scenario with only the 12 larger strategic reservoirs, the power demand reached 45.3 GWh/year. Alone, the largest reservoir in the basin can supply water to all districts. Nonetheless, in that scenario, the power demand would reach 195 GWh/year, which is 30 times the power required in the real reservoir arrangement. Thus, decentralization by small reservoirs not only promotes more democratic access to water, but also increases energy efficiency by storing it at higher altitudes and closer to the diffuse demands.