Development of a Hydrologic and Water Allocation Model to Assess Water Availability in the Sabor River Basin (Portugal)

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Jul 8;16(13):2419. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16132419.


The Sabor River basin is a large basin (3170 km2) located in the northeast of Portugal and used mostly for agroforestry. One problem this basin faces is a lack of water during the dry season, when there is a higher demand for water to irrigate crops. To solve this problem, the Portuguese government created a National Irrigation Program to finance new irrigation areas and improve existing ones. Consequently, it is necessary to evaluate the past and future water availability for agricultural and domestic consumption in the basin. This was done through the development of a hydrological and water allocation model. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to model the hydrological processes that took place in the catchment between 1960 and 2008. The MIKE HYDRO Basin was used to simulate water allocation (irrigation and domestic consumption) in a historical view and under two scenarios. The historical view used the time period 1960-2008, and the two scenarios used the same time period but with an increase in the irrigated area. The first scenario simulated the irrigation of the total irrigable area that exists in the basin. The second scenario simulated a 29% increase in the olive grove area and a 24% decrease in the resident population, according to the projection for 2060. The results show that, in the historical view, the average annual water demand deficit was 31% for domestic consumption and 70% for irrigation, which represent 1372 × 103 m3 and 94 × 106 m3 of water, respectively. In the two scenarios, the water demand deficit increased to 37% for domestic consumption and 77% for irrigation. In the first scenario, the average annual water demand deficit was 183 × 106 m3 of water for irrigation. In the second scenario, the average annual water demand deficit was 385 × 103 m3 of water for domestic consumption, and 106 × 106 m3 of water for irrigating the expanded olive grove area. These results demonstrate that Portuguese farmers can use our model as a decision support tool to determine how much water needs to be stored to meet the present and future water demand.

Keywords: MIKE HYDRO Basin; SWAT; applied irrigation; domestic consumption; irrigation deficit; irrigation demand; resident population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Hydrology*
  • Portugal
  • Rivers
  • Seasons
  • Soil
  • Water Supply*


  • Soil