Topic: Managing large rivers for shared benefit - International Riversymposium
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Topic: Managing large rivers for shared benefit

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Issues and Challenges of Transboundary Water Management with Special Reference to Kosi River
Shilpa Bagade(poharkar), IMS Law College, Noida, India

Variability of river discharges: A major challenge for water allocations and water management in India
Shivakumar Kanike and Biksham Gujja, AgSri Agriculture Consultants Hyderabad, India

Aboriginal Waterway Assessments: new tools for realising shared benefits in the Murray Darling Basin
Will Mooney and Peter Ingram, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Australia

Socio-cultural and Livelihoods flow assessment for Ramganga river, India
Neha Khandekar, Chicu Lokgariwar and Anil Gautam
People’s Science Institute, India

Supporting Basin Planning in India: Building on Experiences in Australia
Carmel Pollino, Amit Parashar, Geoff Podger, Rajendra Kumar Jain and Peter Wallbrink, CSIRO, Australia

Taming the Lower Brahmaputra River – Bangladesh initiative
Md. Habibur Rahman, Bangladesh Water Development Board

Stepping out of the ‘water-box’: Re-thinking transboundary water cooperation
Yumiko Yasuda, International Centre for Water Cooperation/ The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Sweden

Opportunities for Cross-border Collaboration in Monitoring and Management of River Biodiversity in Indus Basin – Moving from Conflict to Shared Responsibility
Vaqar Zakaria, Hagler Bailly Pakistan

Monday 12 September
13:30 – 15:00

Issues and Challenges of Transboundary Water Management with Special Reference to Kosi River

Shilpa Bagade(poharkar)
IMS Law College, Noida, India

Water is an international resource. It traverses borders without regard to politics or diplomacy. In its natural state, it abides by no laws other than those compelled by nature. When artificial partitions and management schemes are imposed on freshwater resources, the laws of nature can clash with the man. Transboundary watercourses and aquifers are today facing an increase in competing demands from both the human and environmental sectors.

The Kosi is a transboundary river system that flows through China, Nepal and India. It is one of the tributaries of the Ganges that flows through plains of the northern Indian state of Bihar. The region is prone to natural hazards like floods, droughts, landslides and debris flow. To understand the structure and nature of the basin, this paper describes the hydrology, meteorology, geology, geomorphology of the river and characteristics of water hazards in the basin well as. The issues relating due to erratic nature Kosi River will be explored in this paper. The Kosi River being one of the Himalayan Rivers, the issues relating to climate change as well as sustainable development will be discussed. In 1954, India and Nepal signed the Kosi Agreement to enable construction barrage and embankments as flood control and mitigation measures. Subsequently a revised version of the Agreement was signed in 1966.The paper will review the Kosi agreement between India and Nepal and explore the weakness of the agreement. The water relationship between India and Nepal will be highlighted in the perspective of International Law. The research methodology will be exploratory and descriptive and based on the secondary data. The paper will conclude with the suitable solutions.

About the author

Dr. Shilpa Bagade is Assistant Professor in IMS Law College Noida, India.She has presented 7 papers at various national and international conferences. Her topic of PhD was Management of Sharing of Transboundary Water Resources under International Legal Regime. She has worked as practicing advocate for 8 yrs.

Supporting Basin Planning in India: Building on Experiences in Australia

Carmel Pollino, Amit Parashar, Geoff Podger, Rajendra Kumar Jain and Peter Wallbrink
CSIRO, Australia

The Governments of India and Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Water Resource Management in 2009 (re-signed in 2014). The core of this is building technical capacity in management of water resources. The Indian National Water Policy defines the unit for water resource management as being at a basin scale. To progress the capacity building agenda, the Brahmani Baitarni Basin was selected as a focal catchment. In this presentation, we will overview the process undertaken in building shared capacity in technical components in Basin Planning over three years.

Capacity building activities were structured around different activities, including field trips, joint workshops, formal training activities and working as partners by modelling the neighbouring basins in parallel. Capacity building was targeted at project officers, water planners and policy makers in Central and State jurisdictions.

The initial focus was on sharing experiences from the Murray-Darling Basin (Australia). As the project has matured, the focus is now on building a methodology for India, defining key water issues for Brahmani Baitarni Basin, the modelling requirements and implementation, and reporting and communicating results. The next phase is for the India-Australia project teams to apply and adapt this methodology to other Indian basins.

About the author

Dr. Carmel Pollino works as a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO. She has 15 years of experience working in Environmental Flows, Risk Assessment, Integrated River Basin Planning and Ecological Modelling. Carmel has experience working water quality and quantity issues, considering ecological outcomes within broader systems, including complex governance, stakeholder and cultural contexts. Carmel has worked with Australian agencies in developing methods for and in evaluating the outcomes of Basin Planning, these methods have recently been applied in India.

Variability of river discharges: A major challenge for water allocations and water management in India

Shivakumar Kanike and Biksham Gujja
AgSri Agriculture Consultants Hyderabad, India

Water resources management is key challenge in India. Assumed importance with increasing scarcity, climate induced uncertainty, excessive ground water exploitation and changes in intensity and periodicity of rainfall. Decisions of water allocations for large dams are based on average annual discharge data over long period of time. No major changes in long term averages, but inter and intra annual variations are increasingly becoming unpredictable. We specifically looked the discharge variability into a major dam SriRamSagarProject (SRSP) in Telangana state completed in 1977 to store 2,600 million cubic meters (MCM). The dam intended to supply 5,660 MCM of water for irrigation, drinking and minor industry in two stages. During 2015 SRSP received 420 MCM, which is 12% of allocated water of 3455 MCM. Water allocations are made on the principle of 75% dependability. Annual inflows into SRSP varied from 33900 to 544 MCM which is + 344 to -93% of the average (7436 MCM). In addition large variations within a year during rainy season, July to October is from 426% to -92%. Similarly, larger variation at daily level is observed. SRSP received highest 1155 MCM on single day which is three times of year 2015.

The paper using long term discharge data at various gauging stations have demonstrated the variability from year to year, within a year and at daily level and we argue that allocating water based on water discharges are somewhat mis-leading. An advanced system of predicting water flows into dam, well in advance, based on rain fall could improve the efficiency in water storage and provide enough basis for various stakeholders and uses within a project. A scientific method of water management considering the variability within a year, months and daily will significantly improve the water availability to irrigation, drinking water and preparedness for droughts and floods.

About the author

Dr.Shivakumar Kanike had obtained Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Worked extensively on exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Central and Southern and North-Eastern parts of India. Initiated the programs for collection and management of baseline data that helped for mining activities and construction of nuclear power plants. Associated with Freshwater programme for WWF-International and NGOs, influenced several processes such as river basin water management, Civil Society Dialogue on specific issues such as Water Conflicts and Interlinking of Rivers. Presently working on issues such as environmental impact assessment, energy budget and informed for decision making on infrastructure and power projects. Dr. Kanike is actively taking part in improving the water productivity of major crops, developing appropriate responses for adaptation and mitigation of climate change in India and some of the African countries.

Monday 12 September
15:30 – 17:00

Aboriginal Waterway Assessments: new tools for realising shared benefits in the Murray Darling Basin

Will Mooney and Peter Ingram
Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Australia

Australia’s largest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), is home to over 70,000 Indigenous people. The rivers, waterways, wetlands and floodplains of the MDB are integral to the cultural traditions, livlihood and wellbeing of Traditional Owners. However, modern water management has largely ignored their rights and interests. This presentation will consider how the concept of shared benefits is being developed to drive greater recognition of and responsiveness to cultural values in the MDB. In particular, it will focus on the development of tools and mechanisms to document and assess Aboriginal people’s priorities and influence water planning and delivery.

This presentation will use the Aboriginal Waterways Assessment tool (AWA) as a case study of approaches to realising shared benefits in environmental water management. The AWA is a methodology, developed in partnership between the Murray Darling Basin Authority, MLDRIN and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations. It allows for consistent assessments of cultural significance and environmental health of sites acoss Nation’s traditional region, supporting Traditional Owners to articulate and advocate for their watering objectives. The presentation will outline recent applications of the tool within the Murray Darling Basin.

The presentation will also consider other approaches to realising shared benefits and highlight challenges, limitations and opportunities.

The Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigneous Nations has been at the forefront of developing approaches and policy for Aboriginal engagement in water management for nearly 20 years. The presentation will draw on this wealth of knowledge to chart emerging trends in water management in the MDB.

About the author

Will Mooney is the Executive Officer for the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN). MLDRIN is a confederation of Traditional Owners in the Southern half of the Murray Darling Basin (Australia).

Socio-cultural and livelihoods flow assessment for Ramganga river, India

Neha Khandekar, Chicu Lokgariwar and Anil Gautam
People’s Science Institute, India

Manipulation in the natural flow regimes of rivers in the form of diversions or in-channel structures has resulted in a growing deterioration in the condition (health) of riverine ecosystems. Major manipulations like large hydroelectric dams or storage reservoir structures for irrigation extensively modify natural patterns of river flow leading to loss of spiritual, recreational and livelihood-providing values of water systems. There exists a strong bond between the river and riparian dwellers as their lives and livelihoods are intricately woven with river flows. The knowledge of flow regime of the river is transferred from one generation to another in the form of myths, stories and rituals. A large disturbance frays the threads of this intricate relationship, causing memories of a free flowing river and the associated belief systems to fade.

Ramganga river flows through Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh till its confluence with the Ganga. With major irrigation and hydroelectric projects existing on Ramgana river, its flows are extremely modified. This research is an attempt to capture the evolution of the relationship between riparian communities and the river with changes in it’s flows and, quantify the flow regimes needed to maintain this relationship. PSI research team traveled along the river and conducted detailed participatory rural appraisal exercises, focused group discussions and in-depth interviews with residents of selected villages at five cross sections identified in the main stretch of the river.
The paper presents a methodology used for assessment of socio-cultural flows and presents evidence that suggests that identities and livelihoods of riparian communities are intricately linked with healthy, near-natural flow regimes. The socio cultural flows are those that satisfy the expectations recorded historically in form of mythology and folklore but also those that are needed to satisfy the traditional livelihoods practiced along the banks.

About the authors

The authors are senior researchers at People’s Science Institute (PSI), Dehradun- a not for profit research and technical support organisation located at the foothills of Himalayas. For this study, PSI research team was a part of a larger multi-disciplinary team to assess Environmental Flows using Building Block Methodology. Besides the authors, the research team from PSI included Dr Ravi Chopra, Chicu Lokgariwar and Dr Debashish Sen as senior researchers, who guided all along the entire study with their valuable inputs. Dr Ajay Joshi trained the team and helped in conducting participatory rural appraisal exercises. Ravinder Singh and Bhuvan Joshi helped in conducting PRA, in-depth interviews and focused group discussions. The financial support for this study came from WWF-India under its Living Ganga Programme (sponsored by HSBC bank).

Taming the Lower Brahmaputra River- Bangladesh initiative

Md. Habibur Rahman
Bangladesh Water Development Board

The Brahmaputra is the largest braided sand-bed river in the world and exhibits a highly variable and unpredictable pattern of multiple channels enclosing myriads of large and small sand bars and islands. It enters Bangladesh from Assam naming as the Jamuna, meets with the Ganges and combine river becomes the Padma. The Padma again merges with the Meghna River and eventually falls into the Bay of Bengal.

Normal bank-full discharge of the Brahmaputra River during monsoon is about 40,000 m3/sec and its 100-year discharge exceeds 100000m3/sec. The rise in level from low water to 100-year peak is about 7 m. In last 60 years from 1950 to 2010, the average width of the braided system increased from about 8 km to 12 km, and about 1250 km2 floodplain was lost by erosion along both riverbanks. The Brahmaputra system carries huge sediment discharge from the upper catchment causing change in land elevations resulting frequent severe flood and reducing the navigability.

During 1960, flood embankments have been built along parts of the Brahmaputra to help protect the communities from flooding, but riverbank erosion often associated with widening has caused breaches and has required repeated retirements of Embankments.

Bangladesh is a very densely populated country (about 2500 people per km2 along the river) with continuous decrease of agricultural land due to river erosion. By narrowing the river up to 6-8 km, about 700 km2 of lost land may be reclaimed.
For taming the lower Brahmaputra, Bangladesh has initiated a management plan, for flood control and river erosion, river stabilization to improve navigability and land reclamation considering capital dredging and river training works and other interventions. Uncertainty over future factors including earthquakes, climate change and developments in upper riparian countries may pose sever challenges to the government initiative.

About the author

Mr. Md. Habibur Rahman is currently working as an Additional Chief Engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board. He has a professional career of 32 years in implementation and management of water resources development projects in Bangladesh. His remarkable work in the coastal zone is “Char Development and Settlement Project (CDSP)” aiming at poverty alleviation through effective management of water resources, protection against tidal and storm surges, improved drainage. He is also acting as the Project Director of “River Management Improvement Program (RMIP)” for sustainable management of lower Brahmaputra river basin from upstream of Bangabandhu bridge up to the Indian boarder. The Program will bring immense benefits and huge economic development for people living there. Mr. Rahman obtained his bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in 1983 and Master of Engineering in Water Resources Development from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand in 1990.

Opportunities for Cross-border Collaboration in Monitoring and Management of River Biodiversity in Indus Basin – Moving from Conflict to Shared Responsibility

Vaqar Zakaria
Hagler Bailly Pakistan

Pakistan is testing some innovative approaches to management of river biodiversity in the Indus Basin that is affected by development of hydropower using public-private partnership models. The model primarily relies on long term financing of conservation from sales of electricity, thereby making the consumers directly pay for conservation of biodiversity. The allocations for protection and management of biodiversity are made on a transparent basis by the electricity regulator, for both the construction period and an operation period that extends to thirty years. Protection activities are contracted out by the Project owners to third parties that work under collaboration agreements signed by the project owners and the government under the framework of Biodiversity Management Plans. Systematic data collection under comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation Plans is undertaken, based on a standard set of biodiversity, water quality, hydraulics, and hydrology indicators, to track changes in the ecosystem over time. The paper will share the experience in setting up the institutional and financial frameworks being tested for management of biodiversity at the basin level, and explore the opportunities for setting up standardized data collection protocols across the border in the basin to provide a foundation for sharing data and results of research. Such an initiative is expected to create an environment that will promote development of basin level management options that can help both countries meet their energy needs while minimizing harm to the biodiversity in rivers.

About the author

Mr. Vaqar Zakaria is a recognized environmental specialist in Pakistan with experience in environmental assessment and protected area management. He served on the National Council for Conservation of Wildlife and was instrumental in setting up the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation, where he established the Deosai National Park for the protection of the only remaining population of the Himalayan Brown Bear in Pakistan. His recent work includes preparation of the environmental impact assessment and Biodiversity Action Plan for the Gulpur Hydropower Project located in Critical Habitat on the Poonch River where he helped the project owners and financing institutions in setting up institutional arrangements for long term financing of biodiversity management at basin level. His current engagements include management of the Poonch River Mahaseer National Park, the Musk Deer National Park, and the Margallah Hills National Park. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in chemical engineering from MIT.

Stepping out of the ‘water-box’: Re-thinking transboundary water cooperation

Yumiko Yasuda
International Centre for Water Cooperation/ The Hague Institute for Global Justice, Sweden

Cooperation over transboundary water basin is important for regional development, peace and security. However, transboundary water cooperation often poses challenges as it involves sharing limited water resources and agreeing on how it is managed. Under the Water Diplomacy project, a research was conducted with an aim of identifying the key factors affecting transboundary water cooperation, as one of the steps contributing to overcoming challenges facing transboundary water cooperation.

The proposed presentation will discuss the framework and preliminary result from the analysis of the two case studies: The Brahmaputra River and the Jordan River. Based on review of existing literature, a legal-political-economy analysis framework was developed as a way to analyse key factors affecting cooperation. Key components of the framework includes: biophysical and material conditions, formal institutions, customary rules, actors’ interests and their agency, processes and power dynamics. The preliminary analysis from case studies validates that these are the important factors affecting the transboundary water cooperation.

The research also identified possible opportunities for water cooperation through regional economic cooperation. Too often, only water experts discuss transboundary water cooperation, with a focus only on water issues. This lack of multi-sectoral approach often creates an upstream-downstream dichotomy, focusing the issue only on how to share the water ‘pie’ and manage flow. Focusing the attention only on solving transboundary water issues creates ‘hydro-hegemon’ an influential state actor who could make things difficult for riparian state with disadvantaged geographic location with less political power, and often traps the discussion resulting in stalemates. However, seeking solutions for cooperation outside of the ‘water box’ would allow identifying possible new avenues for transboundary water cooperation boosting, for example, regional economic cooperation.

About the author

Dr. Yumiko Yasuda is a water and environmental governance specialist. She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the International Centre for Water Cooperation (jointly established by the Stockholm International Water Institute and Uppsala University) and the Hague Institute for Global Justice, and conducts research on water diplomacy using the Jordan river and the Brahmaputra river as case studies. Dr. Yasuda’s PhD thesis examined the influence of formal and informal rules and norms on NGOs working within the Mekong River basin. Her research benefits from her work experiences in both private and public sectors related to water and environment in Asia, Pacific, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.