The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources represented a benchmark in the assessment of water consumption from electricity production. The numbers for hydropower ranged from very low to much larger than the other renewable technologies, partly explained by methodological problems. One of the methodological shortcomings identified was the lack of guidance on how to allocate the water consumption rates in multipurpose reservoirs. This paper is, according to the authors’ knowledge, the first attempt to evaluate, test and propose a methodology for the allocation of water consumption from such reservoirs. We tested four different allocation methods in four different cases, all serving three to five functions, including drinking water supply, irrigation, flood control, industrial water, ecological flow and power generation. Based on our case studies we consider volume allocation to be the most robust approach for allocating water consumption between functions in multipurpose reservoirs. The spatial boundaries of the analysis should follow the boundaries of the hydraulic system. We recommend that data should preferably be gathered from one source for all functions, to ensure a consistent calculation approach. We believe the findings are relevant for similar allocation problems, such as allocation of energy investments and green-house gas emissions from multipurpose reservoirs.

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