Water resources and climate change: water managers' perceptions of these related environmental issues

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The present study focuses on climate change and water resources. Its objectives are: (i) to understand the perceptions of climate change by water managers responsible for the French Water Development and Management Schemes (SAGEs); and (ii) to determine whether or not these managers consider this phenomenon in their management of water resources. The analysis is mainly based on interviewees' spatio-temporal evaluation of these two environmental issues. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 49 people in France. The interviews were transcribed and analysed both manually and via a computer-assisted content analysis. The results show that for water, the major problem is ‘quality’, an issue that is known (i.e. defined by its social, spatial and temporal dimensions), whereas for climate change, this is defined by global warming, drought, or extreme events which are not regularly perceived or locally situated. This indicates that water managers recognize the existence of both issues and the relationships between them. However, because these problems are perceived at different temporal and spatial scales, it seems that these managers find it difficult to incorporate measures into their day-to-day decision-making that take into account the effects of climate change.

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