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Introduction to River Basin Planning and
Allocation

Prepared by: Dr.
Ilyas

Masih
, Lecturer in Water Resources Planning, UNESCO
-
IHE
Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands.

And
Abebe

Mangestu
, Irrigation Engineer,
Dilla

University, Ethiopia.


This lecture material is a part of the course material on the module River Basin Planning
and Allocation. Further details can be seen in the module’s lecture notes


Introduction to River Basin Planning and Allocation

Water Resources System Components

Water resources management
involves influencing and
improving the interaction of
three interdependent
subsystems, Natural River
subsystem (NRS), Socio
-
economic System (SES) and
Administrative and Institutional
subsystem (
Loucks

et al.,
2005)

Water Resources System as an input
-
output system
(
Heun
, 2011)

Water is life


Water used for food production in agriculture


Domestic
use
(e.g. drinking

and sanitation)


Industrial use


Hydroelectric power generation


Use of Rivers for Navigation


Source

of pollution dilution


Transporting and transforming waste products that are
discharged into water bodies


Water use for biodiversity


Water landscapes provide aesthetic beauty


Water has cultural and religious importance


-----


Increased water use over time

0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
1900
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
1995
2000
2010
2025
Water withdrawals (km3/a)
Year
Agriculture
Municipal
Industrial
World Total
Increased water use over time
-
benefits,
negative impacts and challenges

The main driving forces behind this rising pressure on water resources are: population
growth; major demographic changes as people move from rural to urban environments;
higher demands for food security and socioeconomic well
-
being; and pollution from
industrial, municipal and agricultural sources, climate variability and change, and land
use change.

A historical
overview

of world’s water resources and their use depicts that the human
appropriation of freshwater water resources has helped in many ways such as preventing
food crises in the world, provision of water and sanitation, generating electric power and
mitigation of damage from hydrological hazards such as flood and drought. But it is now
well recognized that water resources strategies of the last century have largely worked
against nature and have resulted in environmental degradation as many rivers no longer
reach the sea for extended periods of time, river delta regions are ruining, groundwater in
the world’s key aquifers are depleting, water pollution is increasing and aquatic
ecosystems are being increasingly damaged

Despite the
immense

progress in water development the demands are still very
difficult to meet in many regions of the world. For example, there are about 1.1
billion people who still do not have access to improved water supply, and about
2.4 billion, lack access to improved sanitation

Main Causes of Water Problems


Excessive withdrawals of river flows


Pollution from industrial and agricultural activities,


Eutrophication

from excessive nutrient loads


Salinization

from irrigation return flows


Excessive fish harvesting


Floodplain and habitat alteration from development activities


Changes in water and sediment flow regimes


Degraded infrastructures


Other issues…..


?


?

So, Why Plan, Why Manage?

There are problems to solve and opportunities to obtain increased
benefits from the use of water and related land resources


Benefits can be measured in many different ways. Inevitably, it is
not easy to agree on the best way to do so, and whatever is
proposed may provoke conflict.


Hence there is the need for careful study and research, as well as
full stakeholder involvement, in the search for a shared vision of the
best compromised plan or management policy.

What is Water Resources Planning
(WRP)?

WRP is the creative and analytical process of

(a)
hypothesizing sets of possible
goals
,

(b)
assembling needed information to develop and
systematically analyze
alternative courses of actions

for
attainment of such goals,

(c)
displaying the information and the
consequences of
alternative actions

in an authoritative manner,

(d)
devising detailed
procedures for carrying out the actions
, and

(e)
recommending

courses of action as an aid to the decision
-
makers in deciding
what set of goals and courses of action to
pursue

(USA National Water Committee, 1966)

What is Water Resources Planning (WRP)?

What is Planning is:


an art


science,


ingenuity


an exercise in politics


common sense


experience


systematic, methodical


listening,


coordinating


making compromises


avoiding mistakes

Water Resources Planning (WRP) serves Water Resources
Management (WRM). WRP addresses the functioning of the
Water Resources System (WRS) in its integrated whole, taking
into consideration its social, economic and environmental
functions. The aims of WRP are (
Heun

and
Cauwenbergh
,
2012):


• the planning of allocation and development of a scarce resource,
matching water availability and demand, taking into account the physical
boundaries, the full set of national objectives and constraints and interests
of stakeholders;

• the main purpose is to ensure the sustainable exploitation of the water
resources in support of the production of goods and services required to
meet national and regional demand objectives

• a systematic procedure to generate a synthesis of information in such a
manner to gain insight into the nature and consequences of possible
management strategies;

•the analysis for planning aims to identify and formulate feasible
management actions;

• the analysis for planning aims to generate and present quantitative
information to enable better decisions on proposed actions for water
resources development.

What is Water Resources Planning
(WRP)?


Planning (the formulation of development and management plans
and policies) is an important and often indispensable means to
support and improve operational management. It provides an
opportunity to (
Loucks

et al., 2005):



assess the current state of the water resources and the
conflicts and priorities over their use, formulate visions, set
goals and targets, and thus orient operational management


provide a framework for organizing policy relevant research and
public participation


increase the legitimacy, public acceptance of (or even support
for) the way the resources are to be allocated or controlled,
especially in times of stress


facilitate the interaction, discussion and coordination among
managers and stakeholders, and generate a common point of
reference


a management plan or policy.


Common Goals of Water Resources
Planning and Management


Reducing the frequency and/or severity of the adverse
consequences of droughts, floods and excessive pollution


Identification and evaluation of alternative measures that may
increase the available water supplies or hydropower, improve
recreation and/or navigation, and enhance the quality of water and
aquatic ecosystems


Provide safe, reliable and affordable drinking water to people
without causing damage to environment


Allocate scarce water resources among competing users in an
equitable manner


Maximize net social and economic benefits from the operation of a
multipurpose dam while minimizing the environmental damage


-----

An example of planning process to
address water scarcity

Issue: supplies are inadequate to meet demands

What are the causes? (increased water development, conflict over water
rights and allocations (could be of
transboundary

nature), inefficient
water use, high variability of water availability…..

What could be the measures to cope water scarcity? (water rationing in
times of scarcity, conjunctive use of groundwater and surface supplies,
equitable allocation to upstream and downstream users….. )

Do stakeholders agree on these measures?

Are these interventions sustainable (e.g. conjunctive groundwater use
does not lead to over
-
exploitation)?

Scope of planning endeavors



Single purpose plan

It has to do with single activity such as water supply or irrigation or flood
control….etc


Multi purpose plan


It aims at satisfying a number of purposes at the same time, such as
irrigation, hydropower, water supply , environmental management


Master

plan



-

Some

what

old
-
fashioned

type

of

plan,

it

is

formulation

of

a

phased

development

plan

-

It

used

to

exploit

the

opportunities

for

single

and

multipurpose

water

resources

projects

in

a

defined

geographic

area

over

a

specific

period

of

time
.

(
Storm

water

Master

Plan

for

Gaza

City

can

be

good

example)



Scope of planning endeavors

Comprehensive or integrated plan




It is multi
-
unit, multipurpose and multi objective plan



It include economical, financial, political, social, and
environmental objectives.



Consider both structural and non
-
structural (institutional)
alternative


It does not include feasibility studies of individual projects



Scope of planning endeavors: In terms of
areal extent


International Plan


This is international level multi
sectorial

planning.

It is especially the case when a water course crosses several national
boundaries, such as the Zambezi river, Nile river etc
.


National Plan

-

To determine the national priorities for the allocation of scarce water
resources in view of the national objectives and constraints.



Regional Plan

-
At regional level which depend of the country

-
In principle it does not differ from a national plan


District plan

-
These ‘district’ scale legal plans can be declared by the Minister in water
use districts in response to a risk in natural resource degradation arising from
water use practices in that area.

Scope of planning endeavors: In
terms of areal extent


River Basin Plan

-
these

basin

or

catchment

wide

plans

provide

the

constitutional

framework

for

allocating

and

managing

water

for

both

human

use

and

environmental

flow

requirements
.

-
it

use

the

hydrological

boundaries

as

the

planning

limits
.

-

It

is

an

integrated

plan


Spatial Scales for Water Resources Planning


Generally, River Basin is considered most suitable
spatial scale for water resources planning (from
hydrological perspective)


Within a basin, it is important to consider


Upstream
-
downstream impacts


Up
-
scaling and downscaling issues (e.g. from a farmer field to
cropping system to catchment to basin and vice versa)


Administrative boundaries


Outside of a basin, there are also many important
considerations:


National/country perspective


Inter
-
basin transfers


International context


Virtual water



Short term planning

-
This is planning running for short period of time, for about one to two
years

-
Contemporary potential for hydrologic events affecting safety of
structures considered.

-
Its advantages the uncertainty in the scenario is small.

-
Long term planning

-

Try to set out long term perspective and guidelines for the future
development of a nation, region or river basin

-
It has a large of uncertainty













-

It is a long term policy or tactical planning


Strategic Planning

-

it is a combination of short term and long
-
term planning

-

Wide possible range of future option should remain open

-

A plan exclude future development options is not strategic, not flexible
and not robust

Temporal Scales for Water Resources Planning

Temporal Scales for Water Resources Planning


Planning is a continuing sequential process.


Water resources plans need to be periodically updated and adapted
to new information, new objectives, and updated forecasts of future
supplies.


Generally plans are made for five year and then regularly updated.


It is very important to consider long term perspective (plan
according to future needs for food, domestic, energy etc for growing
population).


The expected impacts of climate change should also be considered
in the planning process.


The hydrological process scale is also very important to properly
include in the planning process


For flood flows assessment: hourly or daily (also return period: e.g. 10
year; 100 year)


Surface supplies to farmers: weekly, monthly and seasonal



Groundwater sustainability: seasonal, annual and decadal time scale

Consideration of spatial and temporal scale of
processes is important in a water resources planning
endeavor

Figure 11.1. Common spatial and temporal scales of models of various river
basin processes
(
Loucks

et al., 2005)

Planning approaches


Top down approach (command and control approach).


Planning process typically dominated by professionals


Very less stakeholder participation


The approach assumes that one or more institutions have the
ability and authority to develop and implement the plan, in other
words, that will oversee and manage the coordinated development
and operation of the basin’s activities that affect the surface and
ground waters of the basin.


Widely practiced in past century
-
still practiced in many developing
countries


However, becoming less desirable and acceptable over time


Bottom approach (grass
-
root approach).


Within the past two decades water resources planning and
management processes have increasingly involved the active
participation of interested stakeholders


those affected in any way
by the management of the water and land resources.


Bottom
-
up planning must strive to achieve a common or ‘shared’
vision of goals and priorities among all stakeholders.

Planning approaches

Both approaches, bottom up or top down, can
lead to an integrated plan and management
policy. Then, in your opinion, which one is
better? And why?


Need of Integration in WRP

Fores
ts

Reservoirs

Wetlands

Cities

Fields

The Coast

(Source: GWP, 2000)

Industries


Interdependence calls for
integration (GWP, 2000).


Natural system (Land and
water, surface
-
and ground
waters, quality and quantity,
upstream and downstream,
Freshwater and coastal water)


Human system (water and
national economy,
sectoral
,
public
-
private, involving every
body)


Four major principles in IWRPM
(
Malano
, 1999):


(1)
Sectoral
, (2) geographical;
(3) economic, social,
environmental; (4)
administrative


Four dimensions of IWRM
(
Savenije

and van
der

Zaag
,
2008)


(1) Water resources, (2) Water
users, (3) Spatial scales, (4)
Temporal scales


(Source: Savenije, 2000)

Need of Integration in WRP


IWRP should attempt to achieve optimum level of integration among range
of dimensions, including natural resources, environment, socio
-
economic
and stakeholders.


However, the required level of integration will depend on many factors such
as scale of the planning activity, funds available, anticipated impacts,
sensitivity of an issue etc.


The major constraints in IWRP could be:


Complexity of interactions within and across the natural and human systems


Lack of professional attitude and capacity


Lack of proper institutional framework


IWRP could be time consuming process


Lack of appropriate data, methodologies and tools


Lack of communication between scientists, policy makers and stakeholders


Highly dynamical nature of water resources systems (spatiotemporal variability)


Uncertainty issues in modeling and human behavior

Sustainable water resources planning
and management


Sustainable water resources systems are those designed and managed to best
serve people living today and in the future.


The inclusion of sustainability criteria along with the more common economic,
environmental, ecological and social criteria used to evaluate alternative water
resources development and management strategies may identify a need to
change how we commonly develop and use our water resources.


Sustainable water resources systems are those designed and operated in ways
that make them more adaptive, robust and resilient to an uncertain and changing
future. They must be capable of functioning effectively under conditions of
changing supplies, management objectives and demands. Sustainable systems,
like any others, may fail, but when they fail they must be capable of recovering
and operating properly without undue costs.


Sustainability requires that public and private institutions also change over time in
ways that are responsive to the needs of individuals and society.


Throughout the water resources system planning and management process, it is
important to identify all the beneficial and adverse ecological, economic,
environmental and social effects

especially the long
-
term effects


associated
with any proposed project.

Concluding remarks

Effective water resources planning and
management is a challenge today, and will
be an increasing challenge into the
foreseeable future.
Loucks

et al., 2005.

References

See Lecture Notes


Thanks
for your attention and time for
more questions and discussion