Water Resources Assessment

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Water Resources Assessment
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Haman, Dorota Z.
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
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Gainesville, Fla.
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"Original publication date April, 1994. Reviewed July, 2002."
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AE-245 Water Resources Assessment1 Dorata Z. Haman and Donald A. Brown2 1. This document is AE-245, one of a series of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date April, 1994. Reviewed July, 2002. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Dorota Z. Haman, Associate Professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611, Donald A. Brown, Pennsylvania Representative at the Earth Summit, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Larry R. Arrington, Interim Dean THE RELEVANCE OF CHAPTER 18 OF THE AGENDA 21 FOR STATE GOVERNMENTS PROTECTION OF THE QUALITY AND SUPPLY OF FRESHWATER RESOURCES: APPLICATION OF INTEGRATED APPROACHES TO THE DEVELOPMENT, MANAGEMENT AND USE OF WATER RESOURCES INTRODUCTION In 1987, the UN World Commission on Environment and Development linked the issue of environmental protection to global environmental economic growth and development. Headed by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, this commission published the report Our Common Future. The Brundtland Commission report concluded that the world was threatened by extraordinarily serious global environmental problems, caused in large part by development patterns that were leaving increasing numbers of people poor. Scientific evidence demonstrated rapid destruction of air, water, species of flora and fauna, deserts, forests, and other ecosystems as well as overuse of natural resources. It is predicted that the world population will more than double during the next century. As a result, a new development pattern is required for the entire planet that would "sustain" human development. The Brundtland Commission report thrust the concept of "sustainable development" into the mainstream of world debate, as the only manner to confront the twin problems of environmental degradation and necessary economic development. The need for sustainable development applies to both developing as well as developed nations of the earth. The developing world needs sustainable development to avoid the environmental destruction entailed by moving billions of the poorest people on earth to basic levels of human health and dignity. The developed nations must move to sustainable development to avoid environmental catastrophe entailed by the developed world's depletion of natural resources and its destruction of air, water, and the natural environment. In December 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations called for a meeting of all the nations of the Earth to confront the twin problems of environmental destruction and the necessity for


Water Resources Assessment 2 sustainable development. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was set for June of 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Rio Earth Summit was the largest international meeting in history. During the meeting five documents were signed. The first two, the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity, received most of the publicity in the United States, largely because of the role played by the United States in perceived weakening of the first and the refusal to sign the second. Other documents signed at Rio were the Rio Declaration, a nonbinding set of 27 principles that deal with the rights and responsibilities of nations relating to environment and development, and Forest principles Agreement, a nonbinding statement of principles for the sustainable management of global forests. Not widely publicized in the United States was the main substantive work of the Earth Summit, Agenda 21, the fifth document signed at Rio. Agenda 21 is a comprehensive blueprint for global action into the 21st century designed to solve the twin problems of environmental destruction and the necessity for sustainable development. It is an 800 page document comprising four sections and 40 chapters. Agenda 21 is based on the notion that humanity has reached a defining moment in its history. The nations of the earth cannot continue present policies that deepen economic divisions between rich and poor and that are causing the continued deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for life on earth. If the peoples of the world are to avoid environmental catastrophe they must move to implement policies and practices of sustainable development. Even though Agenda 21 is not binding on the signatory nations, it is expected to work as a set of normative principles that will determine appropriate international behavior in the next century. A new commission on sustainable development has been set up in the United Nations to review the efforts of the nations of the world to implement Agenda 21. In agreeing to Agenda 21 the nations of the earth have agreed to develop plans implementing Agenda 21 at the national, state, and local level. Agenda 21 calls for 2,500 specific actions. Agenda 21 addresses the pressing problems of today and also aims at preparing the world for the challenges of the next century. It reflects a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment cooperation. Its successful implementation is first and foremost the responsibility of governments. National strategies, plans, policies and processes, are crucial in achieving this. International cooperation should support and supplement such national efforts. In this context, the United Nations systems has a key role to play. Other international, regional, and subregional organizations are also called upon to contribute to this effort. The broadest public participation and the active involvement of the non-governmental organizations and other groups should also be encouraged. The program areas that constitute Agenda 21 are described in terms of the basis for action, objectives, activities, and means of implementation. Agenda 21 is a dynamic program. It will be carried out by the various actors according to the different situations, capacities, and priorities of countries and in full respect of all the principles contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. It could evolve over time in the light of changing needs and circumstances. This process marks the beginning of a new global partnership for sustainable development. Freshwater resources are an essential component of the earth's hydrosphere and an indispensable part of all terrestrial ecosystems. The freshwater environment is characterized by the hydrological cycle, including floods, and droughts, which in some regions have become more extreme and dramatic in their consequences. Global climatic change and atmospheric pollution could also have an impact on freshwater resources and their availability and, through sea-level rise, threaten low-lying coastal areas and small island ecosystems. Water is needed in all aspects of life. The general objective is to make certain that adequate supplies of water of good quality are maintained for the entire population of this planet, while preserving the hydrological, biological, and chemical functions of ecosystems, adapting human activities within the capacity limits of nature and combating vectors of


Water Resources Assessment 3 water-related diseases. Innovative technologies, including the improvement of indigenous technologies, are needed to fully utilize limited water resources and to safeguard those resources against pollution. The widespread scarcity, gradual destruction and aggravated pollution of freshwater resources in many world regions, along with the progressive encroachment of incompatible activities, demand integrated water resources planning and management. Such integration must cover all types of interrelated freshwater bodies, including both surface water and groundwater, and duly consider water quantity and quality aspects. The multisectoral nature of water resources development in the context of socio-economic development must be recognized, as well as the multi-interest utilization of water resources for water supply and sanitation, agriculture, industry, urban development, hydropower generation, inland fisheries, transportation, recreation, low and flat lands management, and other activities. Rational water utilization schemes for the development of surface and underground water supply sources and other potential sources have to be supported by concurrent water conservation and wastage minimization measures. Priority, however, must be accorded to flood prevention and control measures, as well as sedimentation control, where required. Transboundary water resources and their use are of great importance to riparian states. In this connection, cooperation among those states may be desirable in conformity with existing agreements and/or other relevant arrangements, taking into account the interests of all riparian states concerned. The following program areas are proposed for the freshwater sector: (a) Integrated water resources development and management; (b) Water resources assessment; (c) Protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems; (d) Drinking-water supply and sanitation; (e) Water and sustainable urban development; (f) Water for sustainable food production and rural development; (g) Impacts of climate change on water resources. This publication addresses only those sections of Chapter 18 that deal with water resources assessment. It lists planning responsibilities at the state level and does not address the sections which deal only with national or international responsibilities or problems. The original numbering system of Agenda 21 has been retained so that anyone wishing to compare this document with the full Agenda 21 may easily refer to numbered paragraphs. WATER RESOURCES ASSESSMENT Basis for Action 18.23. Water resources assessment, including the identification of potential sources of freshwater supply, comprises the continuing determination of sources, extent, dependability, and quality of water resources and of the human activities that affect those resources. Such assessment constitutes the practical basis for their sustainable management and a prerequisite for evaluation of the possibilities for their development. There is, however, growing concern that at a time when more precise and reliable information is needed about water resources, hydrologic services, and related bodies are less able than before to provide this information, especially information on groundwater and water quality. Major impediments are the lack of financial resources for water resources assessment, the fragmented nature of hydrologic services and the insufficient numbers of qualified staff. At the same time, the advancing technology for data capture and management is increasingly difficult to access for developing countries. Establishment of national databases is, however, vital to water resources assessment and to mitigation of the effects of floods, droughts, decertification, and pollution.


Water Resources Assessment 4 Objectives 18.24. Based upon the Mar del Plata Action Plan, this program area has been extended into the 1990s and beyond with the overall objective of ensuring the assessment and forecasting of the quantity and quality of water resources, in order to estimate the total quantity of water resources available and their future supply potential, to determine their current quality status, to predict possible conflicts between supply and demand and to provide a scientific database for rational water resources utilization. 18.25. Five specific objectives have been set accordingly, as follows: (a) To make available to all countries water resources assessment technology that is appropriate to their needs, irrespective of their level of development, including methods for the impact assessment of climate change on freshwaters; (b) To have all countries, according to their financial means, allocate to water resources assessment financial resources in line with the economic and social needs for water resources data; (c) To ensure that the assessment information is fully utilized in the development of water management policies; (d) To have all countries establish the institutional arrangements needed to ensure the efficient collection, processing, storage, retrieval, and dissemination to users of information about the quality and quantity of available water resources at the level of catchments and groundwater aquifers in an integrated manner; (e) To have sufficient numbers of qualified and capable staff recruited and retained by water resources assessment agencies and provided with the training they will need to carry out their responsibilities successfully. 18.26. All states, according to their capacity and available resources, and through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, including cooperation with the United Nations and other relevant organizations, as appropriate, could set the following targets: (a) By the year 2000, to have studied in detail the feasibility of installing water resources assessment services; (b) As a long-term target, to have fully operational services available based upon high-density hydrometric networks. Activities 18.27. All States, according to their capacity and available resources, and through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, including the United Nations and other relevant organizations as appropriate, could undertake the following activities: (a) Institutional framework: (1) Establish appropriate policy frameworks and national priorities; (2) Establish and strengthen the institutional capabilities of countries, including legislative and regulatory arrangements, that are required to ensure the adequate assessment of their water resources and the provision of flood and drought forecasting services; (3) Establish and maintain effective cooperation at the national level between the various agencies responsible for the collection, storage and analysis of hydrologic data; (4) Cooperate in the assessment of transboundary water resources, subject to the prior agreement of each riparian state concerned; (b) Data systems: (1) Review existing data-collection networks and assess their adequacy, including those that provide real-time data for flood and drought forecasting;


Water Resources Assessment 5 (2) Improve networks to meet accepted guidelines for the provision of data on water quantity and quality for surface and groundwater, as well as relevant land-use data; (3) Apply standards and other means to ensure data compatibility; (4) Upgrade facilities and procedures used to store, process, and analyze hydrologic data and make such data and the forecasts derived from them available to potential users; (5) Establish databases on the availability of all types of hydrologic data at the national level; (6) Implement "data rescue" operations, for example, establishment of national archives of water resources; (7) Implement appropriate well-tried techniques for the processing of hydrologic data; (8) Derive area-related estimates from point hydrologic data; (9) Assimilate remotely sensed data and the use, where appropriate, of geographical information systems; (c) Data dissemination: (1) Identify the need for water resources data for various planning purposes; (2) Analyze and present data and information on water resources in the forms required for planning and management of countries' socio-economic development and for use in environmental protection strategies and in the design and operation of specific water-relprojects; (3) Provide forecasts and warnings of flood and drought to the general public and civil defence; (d) Research and development: (1) Establish or strengthen research and development programs at the national, subregional, regional, and international levels in support of water resources assessment activities; (2) Monitor research and development activities to ensure that they make full use of local expertise and other local resources and that they are appropriate for the needs of the country or countries concerned. (e) Scientific and technological means: 18.29. Important research needs include (a) development of global hydrologic models in support of analysis of climate change impact and of macroscale water resources assessment; (b) closing of the gap between terrestrial hydrology and ecology at different scales, including the critical water-related processes behind loss of vegetation and land degradation and its restoration; and (c) study of the key processes in water-quality genesis, closing the gap between hydrologic flows and biogeochemical processes. The research models should build upon hydrologic balance studies and also include the consumptive use of water. This approach should also, when appropriate, be applied at the catchment level. 18.30. Water resources assessment necessitates the strengthening of existing systems for technology transfer, adaptation and diffusion, and the development of new technology for use under field condias well as the development of endogenous capacity. Prior to inaugurating the above activities, it is necessary to prepare catalogues of the water resources information held by government services, the private sector, educational institutes, consultants, local water-use organizations and others. Human Resource Development 18.31. Water resources assessment requires the establishment and maintenance of a body of well-trained and motivated staff suffiin number to undertake the above activities. Education and training programs designed to ensure an adequate supply of


Water Resources Assessment 6 these trained personnel should be established or strengthened at the local, national, subregional or regional level. In addition, the provision of attractive terms of employment and career paths for professional and technical staff should be encouraged. Human resource needs should be monitored periodically, including all levels of employment. Plans have to be established to meet those needs through education and training opportunities and internationprograms of courses and conferences. 18.32. Because well-trained people are particularly important to water resources assessment and hydrologic forecasting, personnel matters should receive special attention in this area. The aim should be to attract and retain personnel to work on water resources assessment who are sufficient in number and adequate in their level of education to ensure the effective implementation of the activities that are planned. Education may be called for at both the national and the international level, with adequate terms of employment being a national responsibility. 18.33. Recommended actions include: (a) Identifying education and training needs geared to the specific requirements of countries; (b) Establishing and strengthening education and training programs on water-related topics, within an environmental and developmental context, for all categories of staff involved in water resources assessment activities, using advanced educational technology, where appropriate, and involving both men and women; (c) Developing sound recruitment, personnel, and pay policies for staff of national and local water agencies. 18.34. The conduct of water resources assessment on the basis of operational national hydrometric networks requires an enabling environment at all levels. The following national support action is necessary for enhanced national capacities: (a) Review of the legislative and regulatory basis of water resources assessment; (b) Facilitation of close collaboration among water sector agencies, particularly between information producers and users; (c) Implementation of water management policies based upon realistic appraisals of water resources conditions and trends; (d) Strengthening of the managerial capabilities of water-user groups, including women, youth, indigenous people and local communities, to improve water-use efficiency at the local level.