ABSTRACT (Agent Based Simulation Tool for Resource Allocation in a CatchmenT)

P. van Oel

With the ABSTRACT model the effect of rainfall patterns and water management interventions on spatiotemporal distribution of water resources availability and use in a catchment can be evaluated. The model is designed for basins with dams for water storage that serve a large irrigation sector. The model may be used to explore possibilities of multi-annual water allocation.

Freshwater in a river basin is a common-pool resource (CPR) which is, because of the nature of a river basin, asymmetric (Van Oel et al., 2009). For a river basin which contains many water reservoirs one cannot speak of a single resource stock, as is the case for an irrigation scheme with one central reservoir. A river basin with multiple reservoirs is therefore fundamentally different from a canal-irrigation system and should rather be regarded as a system of nested or connected CPR's. Conflicts of interest may exist at and between different levels on the river basin scale:
" the local level (e.g. conflicts between individual water users around a local resource)
" the sub basin level (e.g. conflicts between groups of users using different local water sources)
" the basin level (e.g. conflicts between equitability and efficiency)

A first application of the model has been implemented using survey data on farmers' preferred land use in case of different water availability situations at the sub basin level of the Jaguaribe basin in Brazil (figure 1; figure 2; Van Oel, 2009; Van Oel et al., 2010). Currently we are working on modifying the model for studying basin closure and the effects of decentralization of water allocation management at the basin level.

Model output includes water availability and water use at levels ranging from local to the (sub) basin level. Model validation was partly done using land use classifications from remotely-sensed data (figure 3) and is described in detail in Van Oel et al. (2010).


You can download the Cormas model source code.


Van Oel, P.R. 2009. Water-Scarcity Patterns: spatiotemporal interdependencies between water use and water availability in a semi-arid river basin. PhD Thesis, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.

Van Oel, P.R., Krol, M.S. and Hoekstra, A.Y. 2009. A river basin as a common-pool resource: a case study for the Jaguaribe basin in the semi-arid Northeast of Brazil. International Journal of River Basin Management, 7(4): 345-353.

Van Oel, P.R., Krol, M.S., Hoekstra, A.Y. and Taddei, R.R. 2010. Feedback mechanisms between water availability and water use in a semi-arid river basin: A spatially explicit multi-agent simulation approach. Environmental Modelling & Software, 25(4): 433.

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