AbstractGlobally, interbasin water transfer (IBWT) projects worth $2.7 trillion seek to address existing and potential future water scarcity concerns. IBWTs present a challenging decision context with complex operational dynamics and conflicting objectives. Information-based coordination between donor and recipient basins is likely to play a role in the success of these large-scale projects, so it is important to explore its potential impact. We developed an IBWT design framework to quantify the multiobjective gains from information coordination between participating basins. For a large-scale IBWT in Southern India, we compared four design paradigms in which transfer decisions are based on (1) the storage states of both reservoirs (cooperative), (2) the storage state of the donor reservoir only (noncooperative), (3) the rule proposed by regional authorities, and (4) status quo (no transfer). The evolutionary multiobjective direct policy search (EMODPS) framework was used to discover the state-aware control strategies that compose the trade-offs between flood protection, demand satisfaction, and environmental flow maintenance. We found that cooperative strategies are substantially more efficient in balancing conflicting objectives, utilizing much lower annual transfers (6,460±2,600  Mm3) compared with noncooperative strategies (9,728±5,000  Mm3), and both outperform the proposed regional rule (16,400  Mm3).

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