Managing Water Variability and Competing Demands in Complex River Basins

Convenor(s):
Adam Smith International; Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Stockholm International Water Institute

This event was webcasted live - visit SIWI Media Hub for more viewing and sharing options.

 

Sustainable use of water resources is a global challenge manifested at regional, national and local levels. The interplay between growing demands from multiple users, information about resource availability, and governance all pose challenges for water managers.

 

This seminar provides an opportunity to compare approaches to managing these challenges based on experience in a number of complex river basins. Issues to be highlighted include approaches to cross boundary planning and governance, setting limits on use, and mechanisms such as markets to manage competing demands between different sectors.

 

Case studies have been selected to showcase multiple water resources and geo-political situations. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority will provide an insight into how Australia has tackled these challenges against a background of water scarcity. The nexus between water and energy security and how this has influenced water management in the Rokel-Seli, Sierra Leone will be explored while the Mekong River Commission will consider the challenges involved in managing a transboundary river basin.

 

The seminar will conclude with a panel discussion to draw out additional perspectives and form conclusions about the ‘essential ingredients’ for sustainable water management.

14.00      Opening of seminar, welcome and introduction of facilitator
        Mats Eriksson, Stockholm International Water Institute

14.03     Introduction to the theme
    Lenka Thamae, Executive Secretary of the Orange Senqu Basin Commison

14.10     Presentation from Sierra Leone
        St John Day, Adam Smith International

14.35     Presentation on the Murray-Darling
        Russell James, Murray-Darling Basin Authority

15.00     Presentation on Itaipu Hydropower Dam    
    Jorge Habib Hanna El Khouri, Itaipu Binacional

15.25      COFFEE

15.45     Presentation from Zambezi
        Gavin Quibell, Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility

16.10   Presentation on Mekong
        Hans Guttman, Mekong River Commission

16.35   Discussion on experiences and recommendations
        Lenka Thamae, Executive Secretary of the Orange Senqu Basin Commison

17.20   Summary and closure of seminar
        Mats Eriksson, Stockholm International Water Institute

 

Sustainable use of water resources is a global challenge manifested at regional, national and local levels. The seminar compared different approaches to managing challenges based on experience in a number of complex river basins. Case studies were selected to showcase multiple water resources and geo-political situations.

Adam Smith International (ASI) explored the nexus between water and energy security and how this has influenced water management in the Rokel-Seli Basin, Sierra Leone. Competing demands for water from rural and domestic users, industry, energy and agriculture, together with the risks of water pollution were highlighted as key challenges. ASI outlined a number of overarching principles to be considered in responding to these challenges:

Participatory and institutionalised monitoring
Manage water locally and establish partnerships
Water allocation
Water laws and regulation
Improvements in water supply

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority provided an insight into how Australia tackled the issue of overuse of water resource in the Murray–Darling Basin and outlined the challenge of putting in place arrangements to achieve sustainability while satisfying a range of stakeholders. The presenter highlighted some of the essential elements in responding to such a challenge:

Taking a whole of basin approach to governance, including setting levels of use
Recovering substantial volumes of water to improve environmental outcomes while improving efficiency of water use to maintain productivity
Clear property rights over water and an effective water market
Genuine involvement of the community

Itaipu Binacional gave an overview of the Itaipu hydroelectric power plant on the Parana River on the border of Paraguay and Brazil. The presenter explained that the power plant provided a solution to the historic border dispute between the two countries and which has enabled them to now share the benefits of the river. The importance of community engagement in the process was highlighted as was the potential of the project to bring broader benefits through social and environmental initiatives.

The Mekong River Commission addressed the challenges involved in managing a transboundary river basin. These included pressure on the river with the development of hydropower and irrigation and cooperative use of the resource. Responses to the challenges include gaining experience in facilitating international cooperation, creating a basin development strategy and procedures to support cooperation in data and information sharing.

The Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF) outlined the challenges in managing water and energy demands in the Zambezi Basin which are expected to grow substantially with changing demographics. In addition, the anticipated impacts of climate change are likely to lead to greater variability in water supply and affect irrigation and hydropower users. The presenter gave an overview of a number of proposed responses to these challenges:

Managing trade-offs across the water and energy nexus
Exploring regional benefits and virtual water trading
Ensuring sovereign security in water, food and energy
Involving the private sector                                                                                                                                              

There were a number of similarities identified across the case studies. The challenges identified are often climate related, environmental or political. In responding, a trigger is often required to stimulate action towards reaching a solution.

The importance of local community involvement and establishing ‘rules’ such as a basin plan, treaty or water laws were issues applicable across all of the case studies. Similarly understanding and monitoring the water resource is crucial to underpin further action including forming agreements and deciding upon water sharing arrangements.

It was concluded that the value in cooperating with different stakeholders over water may form the basis for cooperation in other sectors.

Monday 14:00-17:30
Room K24
Register to the week
Back