Large-scale water storage in the water, energy and food nexus: Perspectives on benefits, risks and best practice

Working Paper English Published: November 2012

This paper provides an overview of the current status of large scale artificial water storage development and its functions in the water, energy and food security nexus.

Key Lessons learned

– Large-scale water storage supports economic development, builds water security and buffers against increasing rainfall variability.
– Well-designed water storage and hydropower systems can enhance both climate change adaptation and mitigation, but such systems must also plan for a more extreme and variable climate.
– Environmental and social consequences at the local and regional levels need to be addressed up-front when developing water storage.
– There are several ways to mitigate negative impacts from water storage in the project design, implementation and initial planning stages.
– Expected benefits from initial stages of storage projects planning may at times promise too much, but there are also cases where outcomes exceed expectations.


The paper presents a typology of water storage structures and provides an analysis of the risks, benefits and trade-offs posed by different storage options. It also highlights good practices and lessons learned from past experiences and explores emerging opportunities for water storage schemes to enhance water, energy and food security in the future.

Lindström, A., Granit, J., Weinberg, J. (2012). Large-scale water storage in the water, energy and food nexus: Perspectives on benefits,risks and best practices. SIWI Paper 21. SIWI, Stockholm.