Impacts of water scarcity on the environment, society and the economy are complex. They are profoundly shaped by human choices and trade-offs between competing claims to water. Current practices for management of droughts in the UK have largely evolved from experience. Each drought tests institutions and society in distinctive ways. Yet it is questionable whether this empirical and heuristic approach is fit for purpose in the future, because the past is an incomplete guide to future conditions.
The MaRIUS project will introduce and explore a risk-based approach to the management of droughts and water scarcity, drawing upon global experiences and insights from other hazards to society and the environment. MaRIUS will demonstrate, in the context of real case studies and future scenarios, how risk metrics can be used to inform management decisions and societal preparedness. Enquiry will take place at a range of different scales, from households and farms to river basins and national scales. Fine-scale granular analysis is essential for understanding drought impacts. Aggregation to broader scales provides evidence to inform critical decisions in water companies, national governments and agencies. Analysis on a range of timescales will demonstrate the interactions between long-term planning and short-term decision making, and the difference this makes to impacts and risks.