Text Box: Integrated Water
Resources Management for
River Basin Organisations










Training Manual









                            June 2008




The purpose of this training material is to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the application of integrated water resources management (IWRM) for sustainable management and development of water resources. The training is particularly targeted at the staff of river basin organisations (RBOs).


Sustainable management of water resources is an important goal being adopted at national and international level in a bid to address water shortages, inequity, pollution and many other water problems. One of the key changes being adopted follows from the recognition that upstream/ downstream effects require management using a basin approach. As a result many countries are introducing new institutional arrangements for water resources management, including organizations to manage water resources at the basin level – (RBOs).


Creating new structures, or changing old ones, to meet the goals of integrated water resources management is not easy and there is evidence that the introduction of new river basin organizations does not run smoothly in many countries. In addition there is widespread uncertainty about what it means to implement the IWRM approach to water resources management on the ground.


Following from a series of case studies on River Basin Organisations (see box) Cap-Net has developed a foundation training programme for the management of water resources. The approach has been to focus on the key functions essential for sustainable management of water resources and they represent the core responsibilities of a water management agency. Organisations tasked to carry out these functions at the river basin level may or may not be called RBOs.


The initial target for these materials is the national level as it is believed that progress with trans-boundary water resources management is dependent upon appropriate structures and systems at national level.


To assist in determining progress toward sustainable management of water resources the training is anchored around a draft set of output indicators. These indicators are related to the main water management functions and assist the RBO to assess progress and determine effectiveness of its activities. One particular benefit is the opportunity for the RBO to adjust the indicators to match the priorities and state of development of the basin. These indicators may be seen as supplementary to those developed in South East Asia which focus mainly on organisational performance. (Makin et al, 2004[1])


The manual is presently in its first draft and is structured to address each of the key water management functions. It is expected that this approach will assist RBOs to identify strong and weak performance areas and take appropriate action to continue progressive improvement in water governance.


Paul Taylor, Director, Cap-Net

Text Box: Case studies on RBOs - Summary

The case studies1 and the subsequent workshop discussions presented an opportunity to assess the progress of RBOs in implementing IWRM. The first broad conclusion is that there is a lack of clear understanding as to what constitutes an RBO and the central functions of water resources management in a river basin.

The enabling environment of laws and policy were problematic in some cases with overlapping jurisdiction or unresolved policy issues but this was considered to be minor compared with other issues such as level of autonomy. 

River basin organisations are expected to be managers of the water resources in the basin addressing competing demands and bringing together the views of the different stakeholders to identify and address priority issues. However the studies found problems of lack of autonomy for the RBO and lack of recognition of the role of stakeholders which limited their opportunities to be heard and participate in decision making. 

The lack of autonomy was also evident in financial management where in most cases the RBO was not yet in a position to receive generated funds affecting not only the viability of the organisation  but also the ability to use economic instruments as a water management tool. The ability to set charges for various water services was centralised, absent or did not result in revenue to the RBO. This affects key elements of IWRM principles including the ability to use financial tools to address equity issues. 

On the operational side, in general the RBOs were unable to take on the broad water management objectives required for IWRM and tended to focus on priority issues of each basin. This was explained as due to a lack of human and financial resources as well as the pragmatic need to address urgent issues. RBOs are not well developed at the present time to implement the IWRM approach and lack not only capacity but also influence – again partly as a result of the lack of autonomy and delegated responsibility.

Other challenging issues include the lack of monitoring and enforcement as well as the limited capacity of the RBOs. The role of women was completely absent and in all cases political involvement had both benefits as well as problems. A widespread lack of understanding of the rationale for the introduction of river basin organisations, the meaning of IWRM and the goals of sustainable development of water resources also impacted negatively on progress.

Capacity gaps are widespread and lie both inside the RBO and outside. Indicators and benchmarking were identified as one important means to focus attention on those areas of greatest importance and impact.
1 http://cap-net.org/sites/cap-net.org/files/RBO%20Performance.doc




This training manual has been developed by Paul Taylor, Rikard Lidèn, Wangai Ndirangu, and Lee Jin. The programme was developed from a series of case studies in Mexico, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Malaysia and a planning workshop held in Sri Lanka. The case study authors Carlos Diaz Delgardo, Wangai Ndirangu, M.I.M. Mowjood and Lee Jin together with Klaas Schwartz, Paul Taylor, Arlene Inocencio; Eng Jayasinghe; and Vijay Parapinje participated in the planning workshop. Klaas Schwartz and Wim Douven compiled the case study findings into a summary report available on the Cap-Net web site.


The institutions contributing to the case studies and the content of the training materials are UNESCO-IHE, Nile IWRM-Net, LA-WETnet, Lanka CapNet, AguaJaring, SWECO and IWMI.


Cap-Net would like to acknowledge the various contributions mentioned above as well as the feedback from participants of the first training course that served to improve the materials significantly. Any omission or error is the responsibility of Cap-Net.


These materials are freely available for use, adaptation and translation as desired and can be downloaded from the Cap-Net web site or requested on CD together with all of the resource materials and Powerpoint slides. When using the materials please give appropriate acknowledgement to the source.




Module 1:  Introduction to Integrated Water Resources Management 1

1.      What is Integrated Water Resources Management?. 1

2.      Why IWRM?. 2

3.      Key Issues in Water Management 2

4.      Water Management Principles. 4

5.      Water Use, Impacts and Benefits. 5

6.      Implementing IWRM.. 7

Web References. 9

Module 2: Water Resources Management Functions at the River Basin Scale. 11

1.      Introduction. 11

2.      Basic Functions for Water Resources Management 12

3.      Water Management Objectives as a Way of Performing the Functions. 13

4.      Institutional Arrangements for Performing the Functions. 14

5.      Stepwise Approach to Conduct the Functions. 15

6.      Lessons. 17

Web References. 18

Module 3: Using Indicators to Measure Progress and Performance. 19

1.      Introduction. 19

2.      Indicators and their Use. 19

3.      Criteria for Developing Indicators. 21

4.      Minimum Indicators for Water Management at River Basin Level 23

5.      Lessons. 24

Web References. 24

Module 4: Stakeholder Participation. 28

1.      Introduction. 28

2.      Where and how should Stakeholders be Involved?. 29

3.      Stakeholder Inventory and Mobilisation. 30

4.      Stakeholder Organisation and Structure. 32

5.      Maintaining Active Participation. 34

6.      Lessons. 35

Web References. 35

Module 5: Water Allocation. 37

1.      Introduction. 37

2.      Water Management Objectives in Water Allocation. 37

3.      Water Resources System Analysis. 39

4.      Water Permits. 41

5.      Lessons. 44

Web References. 44

Module 6: Pollution Management 45

Learning Objectives. 45

1.      Introduction. 45

2.      Legal and Regulatory Framework. 45

3.      Planning for Pollution Control 48

4.      Planning and Implementation. 52

5.      Lessons. 53

Web References. 54

Module 7: Monitoring Systems. 55

Learning Objectives. 55

1.      Introduction. 55

2.      Why do we Need to Monitor?. 56

3.      Monitoring of Water Resources. 57

4.      Monitoring of Water Use. 60

5.      Monitoring of Pollution and Water Quality. 60

6.      Lessons. 62

Module 8: Information Management 64

1.      Introduction. 64

2.      Information Management Process. 64

3.      Information Management Tools. 67

3.      Guidelines for the Development of ICT Systems. 69

4.      Information Management Outputs. 70

5.      Lessons. 71

Web References. 71

Module 9: Economic and Financial Instruments. 73

1.      Introduction. 73

2.      Explaining Financial and Economic Instruments. 74

3.      Water as an Economic and Social Good. 75

4.      Applying Economic and Financial Instruments. 76

5.      Water Resource Management Goals. 77

6.      Economic and Financial Instruments and the RBO.. 79

7.      Lessons. 82

Web References. 82

Module 10:  Basin Planning for Water Resources. 83

1.      Introduction. 83

2.      Preparing for Basin Planning. 84

3.      Basin Planning Process. 86

4.      Implementation of the Basin Plan. 91

5.      Lessons. 91

Web References. 91

ANNEXURE 1: Sample Course Programme. 93

Acronyms. 94








Module 1:  Introduction to Integrated Water

Resources Management



Learning objectives


·          Appreciate the need for reforms to the way water is being managed.

·          Understand the main elements of an IWRM approach to sustainable management of water resources.


1. What is Integrated Water Resources Management?


At its simplest, integrated water resources management is a logical and appealing concept. Its basis is that the many different uses of water resources are interdependent. That is evident to us all. High irrigation demands and polluted drainage flows from agriculture mean less freshwater for drinking or industrial use; contaminated municipal and industrial wastewater pollutes rivers and threatens ecosystems; if water has to be left in a river to protect fisheries and ecosystems, less can be diverted to grow crops. There are plenty more examples of the basic theme that unregulated use of scarce water resources is wasteful and inherently unsustainable.


Could you give more examples where integration can be beneficial?


Integrated management means that all the different uses of water resources are considered together. Water allocations and management decisions consider the effects of each use on the others. They are able to take account of overall social and economic goals, including the achievement of sustainable development. This also means ensuring coherent policy making related to all sectors. As we shall see, the basic IWRM concept has been extended to incorporate participatory decision-making. Different user groups (farmers, communities, environmentalists) can influence strategies for water resource development and management. That brings additional benefits, as informed users apply local self-regulation in relation to issues such as water conservation and catchment protection far more effectively than central regulation and surveillance can achieve.


Management is used in its broadest sense. It emphasises that we must not only focus on development of water resources but that we must consciously manage water  development in a way that ensures long term sustainable use for future generations.


Integrated water resources management is therefore a systematic

process for the sustainable development, allocation and monitoring of water resource use in the context of social, economic and environmental objectives. It contrasts with the sectoral approach that applies in many countries. When responsibility for drinking water rests with one agency, for irrigation water with another and for the environment with yet another, lack of cross-sectoral linkages leads to uncoordinated water resource development and management, resulting in conflict, waste and unsustainable systems.




2.   Why IWRM?


Water is vital for human survival, health and dignity and a fundamental resource for human development. The world’s freshwater resources are under increasing pressure yet many still lack access to adequate water supply for basic needs. Growth in population, increased economic activity and improved standards of living lead to increased competition for, and conflicts over, the limited freshwater resource. Here are a few reasons why many people argue that the world faces an impending water crisis:


·     Water resources are increasingly under pressure from population growth, economic activity and intensifying competition for the water among users;

·     Water withdrawals have increased more than twice as fast as population growth and currently one third of the world's population live in countries that experience medium to high water stress;

·     Pollution is further enhancing water scarcity by reducing water usability downstream;

·     Shortcomings in the management of water, a focus on developing new sources rather than managing existing ones better, and top-down sector approaches to water management result in uncoordinated development and management of the resource;

·     More and more development means greater impacts on the environment; and

·     Current concerns about climate variability and climate change demand improved management of water resources to cope with more intense floods and droughts.


3. Key Issues in Water Management

Text Box: Box 1.1: Water Crisis - Facts

•	Only 0.4% of total of global water in the world is available for humans.
•	Today more than 2 billion people are affected by water shortages in over 40 countries.
•	263 river basins are shared by two or more   nations.
•	2 million tonnes per day of human waste are deposited in water courses.
•	Half the population of the developing world are exposed to polluted sources of water that increase disease incidence.
•	90% of natural disasters in the 1990s were water related.
•	The increase in numbers of people from
•	6 billion to 9 billion will be the main driver of water resources management for the next 50 years.

3.1 Water governance crisis


Sectoral approaches to water resources management have dominated in the past and are still prevailing. This leads to fragmented and uncoordinated development and management of the resource. Moreover, water management is usually in the hands of top-down institutions, the legitimacy and effectiveness of which have increasingly been questioned. Thus, weak governance aggravates increased competition for the finite resource. IWRM brings coordination and collaboration among the individual sectors, plus a fostering of stakeholder participation, transparency and cost-effective local management.


3.2 Securing water for people


Although most countries give first priority to satisfying basic human needs for water, one fifth of the world’s population is without access to safe drinking water and half of the population is without access to adequate sanitation. These service deficiencies primarily affect the poorest segments of the population in developing countries. In these countries, meeting water supply and sanitation needs for urban and rural areas represents one of the most serious challenges in the years ahead. Halving the proportion of the population lacking water and



sanitation services by 2015 is one of the Millennium Development Goals[2]. Doing so will require a substantial re-orientation of investment priorities, which will be much more readily achieved in those countries that are also implementing IWRM.


3.3. Securing water for food production


Population projections indicate that over the next 25 years another 2-3 billion people will need food. Water is increasingly seen as a key constraint on food production, equivalent to if not more crucial than land scarcity. Irrigated agriculture is already responsible for more than 70% of all water withdrawals (more than 90% of all consumptive use of water).


Even with an estimated need for an additional 15-20% of irrigation water over the next 25 years - which is probably on the low side – serious conflicts are likely to arise between water for irrigated agriculture and water for other human and ecosystem uses. IWRM offers the prospect of greater efficiencies, water conservation and demand management equitably shared among water users, and of increased recycling and reuse of wastewater to supplement new resource development.


3.4. Protecting vital ecosystems


Terrestrial ecosystems in the upstream areas of a basin are important for rainwater infiltration, groundwater recharge and river flow regimes. Aquatic ecosystems produce a range of economic benefits, including such products as timber, fuel wood and medicinal plants, and they also provide wildlife habitats and spawning grounds. The ecosystems depend on water flows, seasonality and water-table fluctuations and are threatened by poor water quality. Land and water resources management must ensure that vital ecosystems are maintained and that adverse effects on other natural resources are considered and where possible reduced when development and management decisions are made. IWRM can help to safeguard an “environmental reserve” of water corresponding with the value of ecosystems to human development.


3.5. Gender disparities


Formal water management is male dominated. Though their numbers are starting to grow, the representation of women in water sector institutions is still very low. That is important because the way that water resources are managed affects women and men differently. As custodians of family health and hygiene and providers of domestic water and food, women are the primary stakeholders in household water and sanitation. Yet, decisions on water supply and sanitation technologies, locations of water points and operation and maintenance systems are mostly made by men.


The Gender and Water Alliance cites the example of a well meaning NGO that helped villagers to install pour-flush latrines to improve their sanitation and hygiene, without first asking the women about the extra two litres of water they would have to carry from distant sources for every flush. A crucial element of the IWRM philosophy is that water users, rich and poor, male and female, are able to influence decisions that affect their daily lives.






4. Water Management Principles


A meeting in Dublin in 1992[3] gave rise to four principles that have been the basis for much of the subsequent water sector reform.


Principle 1: Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment.

The notion that freshwater is a finite resource arises as the hydrological cycle on average yields a fixed quantity of water per time period. This overall quantity cannot yet be altered significantly by human actions, though it can be, and frequently is, depleted by man-made pollution. The freshwater resource is a natural asset that needs to be maintained to ensure that the desired services it provides are sustained. This principle recognises that water is required for many different purposes, functions and services; management therefore, has to be holistic (integrated) and involve consideration of the demands placed on the resource and the threats to it.


The integrated approach to management of water resources necessitates co-ordination of the range of human activities which create the demands for water, determine land uses and generate waterborne waste products. The principle also recognises the catchment area or river basin as the logical unit for water resources management.


Principle 2: Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policymakers at all levels.

Is stakeholder participation really possible in practice?


Water is a subject in which everyone is a stakeholder. Real participation only takes place when stakeholders are part of the decision-making process. The type of participation will depend upon the spatial scale relevant to particular water management and investment decisions. It will be affected too by the nature of the political environment in which such decisions take place. A participatory approach is the best means for achieving long-lasting consensus and common agreement. Participation is about taking responsibility, recognizing the effect of sectoral actions on other water users and aquatic ecosystems and accepting the need for change to improve the efficiency of water use and allow the sustainable development of the resource. Participation does not always achieve consensus, arbitration processes or other conflict resolution mechanisms also need to be put in place.


Governments have to help create the opportunity and capacity to participate, particularly among women and other marginalised social groups. It has to be recognised that simply creating participatory opportunities will do nothing for currently disadvantaged groups unless their capacity to participate is enhanced. Decentralising decision making to the lowest appropriate level is one strategy for increasing participation.



Principle 3: Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.

The pivotal role of women as providers and users of water and guardians of the living environment has seldom been reflected in institutional arrangements for the development and management of water resources. It is widely acknowledged that women play a key role



in the collection and safeguarding of water for domestic and – in many cases – agricultural use, but that they have a much less influential role than men in management, problem analysis and the decision-making processes related to water resources.


?IWRM requires gender awareness. In developing the full and effective participation of women at all levels of decision-making, consideration has to be given to the way different societies assign particular social, economic and cultural roles to men and women. There is an important synergy between gender equity and sustainable water management. Involving men and women in influential roles at all levels of water management can speed up the achievement of sustainability; and managing water in an integrated and sustainable way contributes significantly to gender equity by improving the access of women and men to water and water-related services to meet their essential needs


Is there anyone here who doesn't pay for water?


Principle 4: Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic good as well as a social good.

Within this principle, it is vital to recognise first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving social objectives such as efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources. Water has a value as an economic good as well as a social good. Many past failures in water resources management are attributable to the fact that the full value of water has not been recognised.


Value and charges are two different things and we have to distinguish clearly between them. The value of water in alternative uses is important for the rational allocation of water as a scarce resource, whether by regulatory or economic means.  Charging (or not charging) for water is applying an economic instrument to support disadvantaged groups, affect behaviour towards conservation and efficient water usage, provide incentives for demand management, ensure cost recovery and signal consumers’ willingness to pay for additional investments in water services.


Treating water as an economic good is an important means for decision making on the allocation of water between different water use sectors and between different uses within a sector. This is particularly important when extending supply is no longer a feasible option.


5.   Water Use, Impacts and Benefits


5.1. Impacts


Most uses of water bring benefits to society but most also have negative impacts which may be made worse by poor management practices, lack of regulation or lack of motivation due to the water governance regimes in place.


Each country has its priority developmental and economic goals set according to environmental, social and political realities. Problems and constraints arise in each water use area, but the willingness and ability to address these issues in a coordinated way is affected by the governance structure of water. Recognising the inter-related nature of different sources of water and thus also the inter-related nature and impacts of the differing water uses is a major step to the introduction of IWRM.



Table 1.1: Impact of water use sectors on water resources




Positive Impacts

Negative Impacts





·     Purification

·     Storage

·     Hydrological cycle




·      Return flows

·      Increased infiltration

·      Decreased erosion

·      Groundwater recharge

·      Nutrient recycling

·      Depletion

·      Pollution

·      Salinisation

·      Water logging

·      Erosion

Water supply & sanitation

·      Nutrient recycling


·      High level of water security required

·      Surface and groundwater pollution



5.2. Benefits from IWRM


Environment benefits


·     Ecosystems can benefit from applying an integrated approach to water management by giving environmental needs a voice in the water allocation debate. At present these needs are often not represented at the negotiating table.

·     IWRM can assist the sector by raising awareness among other users of the needs of ecosystems and the benefits these generate for them. Often these are undervalued and not incorporated into planning and decision-making.

·     The ecosystem approach provides a new framework for IWRM that focuses more attention on a system approach to water management: -protecting upper catchments (e.g. reforestation, good land husbandry, soil erosion control), pollution control (e.g. point source reduction, non-point source incentives, groundwater protection) and environmental flows. It provides an alternative to a sub-sector competition perspective that can join stakeholders in developing a shared view and joint action.


Agriculture benefits


·     As the single largest user of water and the major non-point source polluter of surface and groundwater resources, agriculture has a poor image. Taken alongside the low value added in agricultural production, this frequently means that, especially under conditions of water scarcity, water is diverted from agriculture to other water uses. However, indiscriminate reduction in water allocation for agriculture may have far-reaching economic and social consequences. With IWRM, planners are encouraged to look beyond the sector economics and take account of the implications of water management decisions on employment, the environment and social equity.

·     By bringing all sectors and all stakeholders into the decision-making process, IWRM is able to reflect the combined “value” of water to society as a whole in difficult decisions on water allocations. This may mean that the contribution of food production to health, poverty reduction and gender equity, for example, could over-ride strict economic comparisons of rates of return on each cubic metre of water. Equally, IWRM can bring



into the equation the reuse potential of agricultural return flows for other sectors and the scope for agricultural reuse of municipal and industrial wastewaters.

·     IWRM calls for integrated planning so that water, land and other resources are utilised in a sustainable manner. For the agricultural sector IWRM seeks to increase water productivity (i.e. more crop per drop) within the constraints imposed by the economic, social and ecological context of a particular region or country.


Water supply and sanitation benefits    


·     Above all, properly applied IWRM would lead to the water security of the world’s poor and unserved being assured. The implementation of IWRM based policies should mean increased security of domestic water supplies, as well as reduced costs of treatment as pollution is tackled more effectively.

·     Recognizing the rights of people, and particularly women and the poor, to a fair share of water resources for both domestic and household-based productive uses, leads inevitably to the need to ensure proper representation of these groups on the bodies that make water resource allocation decisions. 

·     The focus on integrated management and efficient use should be a stimulus to the sector to push for recycling, reuse and waste reduction. High pollution charges backed by rigid enforcement have led to impressive improvements in industrial water-use efficiencies in the industrialised countries, with benefits for domestic water supplies and the environment.

·     Past sanitation systems often focused on removing the waste problem from the areas of human occupation, thus keeping the human territories clean and healthy, but merely replacing the waste problem, with often detrimental environmental effects elsewhere. Introduction of IWRM will improve the opportunity for introduction of sustainable sanitation solutions that aim to minimise waste-generating inputs, and reduction of waste outputs, and to solve sanitation problems as close as possible to where they occur. 

·     At a practical local level, improved integration of water resource management could lead to greatly reduced costs of providing domestic water services, if for instance more irrigation schemes were designed with a domestic water component explicitly involved from the start.


6.   Implementing IWRM


The case for IWRM is strong – many would say incontestable. The problem for most countries is the long history of sectoral development. As the Global Water Partnership puts it:


“IWRM is a challenge to conventional practices, attitudes and professional certainties. It confronts entrenched sectoral interests and requires that the water resource is managed holistically for the benefits of all. No one pretends that meeting the IWRM challenge will be easy but it is vital that a start is made now to avert the burgeoning crisis.”


IWRM is, above all, a philosophy.  As such it offers a guiding conceptual framework with a goal of sustainable management and development of water resources. What it does demand is that people try to change their working practices to look at the bigger picture that surrounds their actions and to realise that these do not occur independently of the actions of others.  It also seeks to introduce an element of decentralised democracy into how water is managed, with its emphasis on stakeholder participation and decision making at the lowest appropriate level.




All of this implies change, which brings threats as well as opportunities. There are threats to people’s power and position; and threats to their sense of themselves as professionals.  IWRM requires that platforms be developed to allow very different stakeholders, often with apparently irreconcilable differences to somehow work together.


Because of the existing institutional and legislative frameworks, implementing IWRM is likely to require reform at all stages in the water planning and management cycle. An overall plan is required to envisage how the transformation can be achieved and this is likely to begin with a new water policy to reflect the principles of sustainable management of water resources. To put the policy into practice is likely to require the reform of water law and water institutions. This can be a long process and needs to involve extensive consultations with affected agencies and the public.


Figure 1.1: IWRM and it linkages to the subsectors


Implementation of IWRM is best done in a step-by-step process, with some changes taking place immediately and others requiring several years of planning and capacity building.


6.1    Policy and legal framework


Attitudes are changing as officials are becoming more aware of the need to manage resources efficiently. They see too that the construction of new infrastructure has to take into account environmental and social impacts and the fundamental need for systems to be economically viable for maintenance purposes. However, they may still be inhibited by the political implications of such a change. The process of revising water policy is therefore a key step, requiring extensive consultation and demanding political commitment.


Water legislation converts policy into law and should:

·     Clarify the entitlement and responsibilities of users and water providers;

·     Clarify the roles of the state in relation to other stakeholders;

·     Formalise the transfer of water allocations;

·     Provide legal status for water management institutions of government and water user groups;

·     Ensure sustainable use of the resource.




Bringing some of the principles of IWRM into a water sector policy and achieving political support may be challenging, as hard decisions have to be made. It is therefore not surprising that often major legal and institutional reforms are only stimulated when serious water management problems have been experienced.


6.2    Institutional framework


For many reasons, developing country governments consider water resources planning and management to be a central part of government responsibility. This view is consistent with the international consensus that promotes the concept of government as a facilitator and regulator, rather than an implementer of projects. The challenge is to reach mutual agreement about the level at which, in any specific instance, government responsibility should cease, or be partnered by autonomous water services management bodies and/or community-based organisations.


The concept of integrated water resources management has been accompanied by promotion of the river basin as the logical geographical unit for its practical realisation. The river basin offers many advantages for strategic planning, particularly at higher levels of government, though difficulties should not be underestimated. Groundwater aquifers frequently cross catchment boundaries, and more problematically, river basins rarely conform to existing administrative entities or structures.


In order to bring IWRM into effect, institutional arrangements are needed to enable:

·     The functioning of a consortium of stakeholders involved in decision making, with representation of all sections of society, and a good gender balance;

·     Water resources management based on hydrological boundaries;

·     Organisational structures at basin and sub-basin levels to enable decision making at the lowest appropriate level; and

·     Government to co-ordinate the national management of water resources across water use sectors.


Web References


Cap-Net, 2003. Integrated Water Resources Management. Tutorial available at:



GWP Background paper No. 4. Integrated Water Resources Management available at: http://www.gwpforum.org/gwp/library/TACNO4.PDF




Integrated Water Resources Management

Purpose: to draw out the progress with IWRM in the region/ country and action at river basin level.

Activity: (30 minutes)
Provide participants with cards and marker pens. Standard advice is one idea/sentence/ bullet per card. Each person completes a card for each question: 
•	Has river basin management of water resources been introduced where you live?
•	What is the biggest challenge for implementing IWRM in the basin.

The participant will stand up, state the country and river basin/ organisation they represent and read the card which will then be displayed on a wall.

Organise the cards on the wall e.g. by country, status, common challenges. Summarise the results of the two questions at the end of the session.







Module 2: Water Resources Management Functions at the River Basin Scale


Learning Objectives


·     Learn the main basic functions for water resources management which need to be performed at the river basin scale to implement IWRM.

·     Discuss institutional arrangements and introduce a process-thinking to conduct the water resources management functions.

·     Appreciate that it takes time to fully perform water resource management functions and that the goals have to be set in relation to what can realistically be met.


1.   Introduction


Most countries try to decentralise water resources management by delegating responsibility and resources. The reason is that local organisations and communities have better knowledge of the water and socio-economic situation and also are the most affected by decisions taken on how to manage the resource. Centralised national or regional governments have difficulties to allocate and regulate water in a river basin as they are unaware of local interests and priorities. Government should, however, provide the rules and establish a framework for the water management in a river basin (GWP, 2003).

What is the state of water governance in  your country?

How is it being



?The boundaries for a river basin provide a natural unit for water resources management. A river basin is a closed region where water management directly affects the inhabitants and other stakeholders of the basin. Although, the river basin may cover different administrative units there are thus incentives for these units to cooperate. A basin society with local know-how and with representatives of all stakeholders, including governmental bodies, is thus the ideal governing institution for

de-centralised water resources management.


Water resources management is one part of the overall management of the environment and the preservation of ecosystems, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Water resources management therefore needs to be coordinated with other disciplines and sectors that affect the water resources or are affected by how well the water is managed.



Which actors impact the quality of surface water?


Is there any other essential function that should be included based on your experience?


On the river basin scale there are thus many actors that have roles and responsibilities for management of the environment and society, which are all linked to the status of the water resources. For successful implementation of IWRM all these actors have to be involved.


It is therefore logical that IWRM on the river basin scale should be focussed on a set of basic water resources management functions. This module thus includes a description of the basic water resources management functions (Section 2) and introduces water management objectives as a way for performing these functions (Section 3). These functions and water management objectives are further elaborated in Modules 4-11. This module further discusses the institutional arrangements options that exist for conducting the functions



(Section 4) and gives a stepwise approach for building the institutional capacity for this (Section 5).



2.   Basic Functions for Water Resources Management


The suggested basic functions for water resources management in a river basin are presented in Figure 2.1, and Table 2.1 gives a definition of these functions. To illustrate the functions a number of activities have been exemplified for each of the functions. Flood and drought management are not addressed in these materials and have been given separate attention by Cap-Net.





Plaque: Information
Plaque: Flood & Drought
Plaque: Monitoring
Plaque: Economic




Table 2.1: Functions of water resources management in a river basin


Example of activities

Stakeholder participation – Implementing stakeholder participation as a basis for decision making that takes into account the best interests of society and the environment in the development and use of water resources in the basin. [Module 4]

·     Develop and maintain an active stakeholder participation process through regular consultation activities.

·     Provide specialist advice and technical assistance to local authorities and other stakeholders in IWRM.

Water allocation Allocating water to major water users and uses, maintaining minimum levels for social and environmental use while addressing equity and development needs of society. [Module 5]

·     License of water uses including enforcement of these.

Pollution control Managing pollution using polluter pays principles and appropriate incentives to reduce most important pollution problems and minimise environmental and social impact. [Module 6]

·     Identify major pollution problems.

·     License and manage polluters.

Monitoring of water resources, water use and pollutionImplementing effective monitoring systems that provide essential management information and identifying and responding to infringements of laws, regulations and permits. [Module 7]

·     Carry out hydrological, geographical and socio-economic surveys for the purposes of planning and development of water resources.

·     Develop, update and maintain a hydrometric database required for controlling compliance of water use allocation.

Information management – Providing essential data necessary to make informed and transparent decisions for development and sustainable management of water resources in the basin. [Module 8]

·     Define the information outputs that are required by the water managers and different stakeholder groups in a river basin.

·     Organise, co-ordinate and manage the information management activities so that the water managers and stakeholders get the information they require.

Economic and financial management – Applying economic and financial tools for investment, cost recovery and behaviour change to support the goals of equitable access and sustainable benefits to society from water use. [Module 9]

·     Set fees and charges for water use and pollution.



River basin planning – Preparing and regularly updating the Basin Plan incorporating stakeholder views on development and management priorities for the basin. [Module 10]

·      Conduct situation analysis with stakeholders.

·      Assess future developments in the basin.


The water resources management functions comprise a general framework for implementing IWRM for any river basin in the world. For any specific country, region or river basin some of the functions may be more relevant than others. However, for an inhabited river basin with competing water demands all these functions need to be performed to achieve sustainable management of the water resource and to improve livelihoods. In most countries the water resource management functions are guided by the national water laws and policies. Typically these are regulatory functions. Water allocation and pollution control in Table 2.1 are direct examples of such regulatory functions. The other functions may be partly regulatory but also serves as support for each other. For example, the functions of financial and information management are essential to enable the implementation of all regulatory functions.


3.   Water Management Objectives as a Way of Performing the Functions


Functions of water resources management are very complex tasks and may involve many different activities conducted by many different players. They can also be implemented to a different level of ambition. To successfully perform these functions with limited resources therefore requires careful planning.


An important step for conducting the functions is to formulate relevant water management objectives related to each function. These water management objectives should delineate the functions into more manageable and understandable parts. Whereas the functions are general, the objectives should take the specific conditions of the river basin and the institutional resources into account. The water management objectives thus set the goal for the water resources management in the basin and lay out the strategy for how to implement the functions.


The water management objectives guide the activities to be carried out and the roles and responsibilities to be given (Figure 2.2). The activities and roles determine the needed capacity to meet the objectives.




Because of often limited financial and human resources of the institutions responsible for water resources management the process may be constrained by the institutional capacity, which means that the capacity governs the possible activities to carry out and thus which objectives that can be fulfilled. A water management objective that is not realistic to fulfil within a reasonable time frame is not serving any purpose.















Figure 2.2:     The process for conducting and measuring progress of the water resources management functions




Have you set

objectives for any of these functions in your RBO?

?The water management objectives should further be formulated to be measurable so that output indicators can be linked to each of them. Through regular monitoring of these indicators there will be feedback on how well the objectives are being fulfilled and whether the performance of the function is proceeding according to plan. The setting of water management objectives should therefore also take into account the physical possibility and institutional capacity to monitor these indicators.


4.   Institutional Arrangements for Performing the Functions


There is no blue-print for designing an organisational framework to meet the water management objectives and to exercise all the water resources management functions. An important aspect is that there are many institutions as well as water authorities that must be involved in conducting water resources management (Figure 2.3).


Environmental, land and

infrastructure management functions


Status of water resources


River Basin



Other regional authorities


Other Ministries


Ministry of



Water resources

management functions











Figure 2.3: Institutional arrangement for performing the water resources management functions

The structure and organisational framework are dependent on the national policies. Normally a river basin organisation (RBO) has regulatory functions as discussed in Section 2. Regulatory responsibilities related to the water resources management functions may, however, also be given to other institution than to the regional water authorities. Examples are pollution control that may be the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment or flood and drought management that may be within a general disaster management framework run by Local Government.


For an RBO it is therefore important to avoid dual responsibilities. If other institutions have the regulatory responsibility the RBO should act as a stakeholder and interact with these institutions in the best way possible.




As indicated in Figure 2.3 there are also related management areas, which directly influence the water resources but which are not part of the basic water resources management functions. An example is land management guiding agricultural fertilizer usage and soil conservation measures, both of which affect quality of the water resources. Also in this case the RBO must act as a strong stakeholder and interact with the relevant ministry or institution.


Box 2.1:  Separated Water Management Functions


·     In Kenya the Tana Water Resources Management Authority under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation is responsible for the implementation of IWRM in the Tana River basin. However, the responsibility for pollution control and soil conservation is vested with the National Environment Management Authority and the Ministry of Natural resources, respectively. Coordination between the different water resources management functions is made through the basin stakeholder forum, the Tana Catchment Area Advisory Committee.


·     In Malaysia the Selangor Waters Management Authority (SWMA) under the Selangor State Government has been given the powers to protect, regulate and manage the water resources in the Sungai Langat River Basin. SWMA is responsible for licensing and enforcing of water allocation and also does the monitoring of water abstraction. However, basin planning is made by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment under the Federal Government, supervised by a steering committee in which SWMA is represented.


5.   Stepwise Approach to Conduct the Functions


As a first step to establish an institutional arrangement for performing the water resources management functions, the roles and responsibilities of the different local institutions must be defined. Which institution has the responsibility for each function and how should the other organisations support the responsible institution.


As the second step each institution, e.g. the RBO, must define clear water management objectives for the functions it is responsible for and how they should interact with other responsible organisations. These water management objectives should preferably be presented, discussed and clarified in a process involving the major stakeholders of the river basin. This will create ownership and acceptance of the functions and objectives. The water management objectives should be part of the River Basin Plan so that they are clearly recognised and adopted at appropriate levels. As a third step the institutions should identify the activities and necessary institutional capacity to meet the water management objectives and to conduct the functions set in the statutes. To conduct the third step a simple activity and capacity matrix approach can be used (Figure 2.4). Such matrix can be used to analyse



the factors, steps, requirements and links necessary for capacity to be present for a certain objective.


The capacity matrix is created by first identifying the activities for producing the final output for the objective. For example, if the water management objective is disseminated knowledge of the water resources, the initial activity could be to monitor river runoff in the field, the second activity to deliver the data on a regular basis to the main office, the third activity to quality assure and store the data, and the fourth activity to analyse and present the data in an understandable way to the stakeholders.


For each of these activities the necessary human skills, organisational and financing support and external links must be defined. If one of the intermediate activities is not fulfilled because of insufficient capacity it means that the organisation lacks the ability to meet the objective. The capacity matrix is therefore a good tool to work backwards to find all necessary factors necessary for meeting the water management objectives and implementing the functions.


How is prioritisation made in your river basin organisation to meet the limited



?In the case resources are not sufficient to build capacity for all water management objectives it is important to prioritise the individual objectives. By decreasing the number of objectives resources may be released for fulfilling other. If instead resources are cut generally and evenly over the organisations (that is often the case) there is a large risk that the institutional capacity fails for all basic water resources management functions.


The development of an institutional arrangement for conducting all water resources management functions is a long and on-going process. It is long because in almost all cases financial resources are not sufficient and it is thus necessary to introduce measures in a step-wise approach. It is also a never-ending process since changes occur (naturally or by human influence) in the river basin that forces water management priorities to be reformulated. An adaptive development process is therefore essential.


Figure 2.4: Matrix for identifying activities and factors necessary for an RBO to meet the water management objectives




Water Management Objective

Human skills & abilities

Organisational Support

Financial Support

External Support


Final activity to meet the objective



·     Technical skill

·     Administrative skill

·     Managerial skill

·     Knowledge

·     Conflict resolving and consensus building ability



·     Will & motivation

·     Drive & energy

·     Concentration

·     Work ethic

·     Efficiency





·     Staff

·     Technical facilities

·     Office facilities

·     Equipment

·     Transport

·     Spares

·     Fuel

·     Service & maintenance


 Specified objectives

·    Vision

·    Values

·    Policies

·    Strategies

·    Interests



·    Planning

·    Designing

·    Sequencing

·    Mobilising



·    Government budget

·    Generated income

·    Grants from donors


Budget items

·    Salaries

·    Investments

ü   equipment

ü   vehicles

ü   materials etc.


·    Running expenses

ü   Fuel

ü   Spares

ü   Communication

ü   Rental etc.


Input from other water organisations

·  National and   bi-lateral authorities

·  Water Supply Services

·  Universities


Stakeholder fora

·  Basin committees or councils

·  Local Governments

·  Water users


Cross-sectoral support

·     Governmental ministries

·     NGOs



Intermediate activity









Intermediate activity






Initial activity / boundary for producing the output






6.   Lessons


A review of river basin water resources management world-wide reveals that implementation of IWRM is still in its early stages. The river basin organisations are still looking for their role and responsibilities and struggle with limited human and financial resources. There are examples of well performing RBOs but common problems exist (Box 2.2).


Text Box: Box 2.2: Common RBO problems
Case studies of river basin organisations in different parts of the world gave the following conclusions:
•	No clear role;
•	Lack of autonomy; 
•	Poor recognition among stakeholders;
•	Lack of human and financial resources;
•	Lack of adaptive management; and 
•	Inadequate cross-sectoral coordination.


With this perspective the lessons are:

·     River basin management should be focussed on the water resources management functions;

·     Different actors may have the responsibility for performing the water resources management functions;

·     The RBO must work as a regulatory body for functions it has been given responsibility for, but also act as an active stakeholder to promote actions in the areas outside of its jurisdiction; and




Conducting the water resources management functions are a long and on-going process and must be made at a rate corresponding to the available resources.


Web References


GWP, 2003 Effective Water Governance, Global Water Partnership Technical Committee, TEC Background Papers No. 7, http://www.gwpforum.org/gwp/library/TEC%207.pdf


Cap-Net (2007) Performance and Capacity of River Basin Organizations, Cross-case Comparison of Four RBOs. http://cap-net.org/sites/cap-net.org/files/RBO%20Performance.doc


Water Resource Management Functions


Purpose: To demonstrate how water resources management functions are managed in a basin.


Activity: Work in river basin groups. (1 hr)


·     Task 1: Choose one of the key water resources management functions in your river basin. Who has the responsibility for this and which other governmental organisations need to coordinate with the responsible institution?

·     Task 2: Formulate the most prominent water management objectives relevant for implementing the above function in your river basin!

·     Task 3: Choose an output indicator for each of the water management objectives!


Report back


Summarise the outcome of the discussions (30 minutes).




Ask whether the water management objectives are realistic. Check whether the indicators

measure the objective.










Module 3: Using Indicators to Measure Progress and Performance


Learning Objectives


·     Understand how indicators can be applied to measure progress with IWRM and facilitate cooperation between river basins.

·     Appreciate the use of indicators to establish goals and measure performance.


1.   Introduction




Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been the basis of water sector reforms in many countries and has been widely proposed as a process or an approach to guide countries towards more sustainable management of water resources. Reforms in water resources management have been carried out to manage water at the river basin level or catchment level because of the importance of upstream – downstream relationship of water resources.


The question that arises very quickly when addressing sustainable management of water resources, whether through an IWRM approach or not, is “how do we know progress is being made?” This is a very important question as it links to the suitability and effectiveness of laws and institutions and also the strategies and approach being used. Given the core principles behind the IWRM approach of Economic efficiency, social equity and environmental sustainability we have no way to make these visible and test them unless there is a method to answer the question posed above.


Have you a system to measure progress?


?Indicators are one approach to measure progress. In this module indicators are used to measure the expected ‘outcomes’ of water resources management and not the process. The term ‘minimum indicators’ is used in recognition that:

It is better to start with a small set of indicators that are feasible to monitor and to improve over time; and

There are many other indicators that could be used to measure progress beyond this basic level.


This module will:

·     Define indicators and how they are used;

·     Present the criteria for the development of indicators;

·     Relate the minimum set of indicators to water resources management functions; and

·     Propose a minimum set of indicators for measuring progress towards sustainable management of water resources.


2.   Indicators and their Use


Indicators provide an effective tool to measure progress and performance.


An indicator is the representation of a trend tracking the measurable change in a system over time. Generally an indicator focuses on a small, manageable set of information that gives a sense of the bigger picture.


From this it can be seen that:

·     There is no need to measure everything; and




The choice of indicator is important as to whether it gives sufficient ‘sense of the bigger picture’.


Indicators have not been applied very much for the measurement of the performance of water resources management although they have been used very successfully in water utilities. Two important uses in water utilities have been a) to keep stakeholders informed of the performance of the utility and b) to help the utility identify action areas.


Well selected indicators can assist the manager of water resources to maintain a focus on the important work areas and take strategic decisions to address problem areas.


IWRM emphasises the integrated approach to water resources management, bringing together various stakeholders or interest groups to participate in management decisions on water. It can therefore be seen that indicators of IWRM may also serve an important function of keeping stakeholders informed of progress and performance of the water resources management system, enhancing transparency, trust and commitment whilst also assisting the RBO to focus action on priority areas.


2.1    Use of indicators


Water sector reforms have been driven by the concern for more efficient use of water resources to speed socio-economic development whilst taking into account the needs of future generations. These laudable goals are meaningless unless there is some process to establish whether any progress is being made to achieve them. Introducing indicators to report on the situation immediately provides a benchmark against which future reports can be measured.


Indicators are useful to:


Can you give an example for each use and suggest other benefits from using indicators?


Measure progress over time against various water management objectives providing information relevant to policy;

·     Measure performance against a target to evaluate the effect of policy actions and plans;

·     Present information to the public or stakeholders in a simplified way; and

·     Identify areas for increased attention by an organisation.


The benefit of this to the RBO is that successes or weaknesses in the water management system may be tracked allowing an appropriate response to be justified to decision makers and implemented.


Indicators have two core functions:

·     To provide system information to inform the RBO, the public and policy makers; and

·     To translate data into policy relevant information. That is, they describe, show trends and communicate the results of implementing objectives.




It is evident that indicators have to be developed to measure the specific issues considered important. For the purposes of addressing implementation of the IWRM approach and the goal of sustainable management of water resources this module takes water resources management functions as the starting point. Indicators discussed in this document therefore relate directly to water resources and only indirectly to the organisation(s) responsible for managing the water resources.


3.   Criteria for Developing Indicators


The most important point in developing indicators is not to be too ambitious. Start with what can be realistically done or else failure is guaranteed.


Indicators may change with time to reflect the status of the river basin. For example at an early stage of water resources management it may be enough to record the numbers of polluters with permits. Later when all polluters are licensed then it may be more appropriate to look at compliance with licenses and water quality objectives for the river.


Several criteria can be identified for choosing indicators. Not all indicators may comply with all criteria and criteria may change for different circumstances. In our context of addressing water resources management an overarching criterion is that the indicators relate to river basin water management objectives and are:



Give an example of an indicator for some of these criteria.


?Simple, easily measured, understood and applied
The data used for indicators should be in a format that is easy to use, can be measured using standard techniques, explained using established principles, and easily used for analytical purposes.  The more complex the indicator the less useful it will be. The data collected should be reliable and collected using standard, defensible methods.


b)                 As few as necessary

The capacity to measure and report is usually limited by financial and human resources, especially in developing countries. Being burdened with an excessive number of indicators may mean that the system fails to achieve the expected benefits or does not work at all.


Indicators reduce the number of measurements and parameters that normally would be required to give an exact description of a situation. As a consequence, the number of indicators and the level of detail contained in the indicator set need to be limited. A set with a large number of indicators will tend to clutter the overview it is meant to provide.


c)                 Use existing information where possible

It is preferable that the information needed to measure an indicator is available through existing data sources and monitoring programs or that data collection can occur through existing programs. This will improve the cost effectiveness of the system.


d)                 Relate at the appropriate scale

            An indicator should be related to the specific situation it is "indicating" information about. The indicator should be measurable at an appropriate scale, both temporally and spatially. For example, if a monthly time step has been chosen as the temporal scale for assessing water quantity then all of the indicators chosen for this parameter, be they baseflow, stream flow etc. should have data that are available on that same temporal scale or another indicator considered. Similarly at the spatial level if data are expected to represent the river basin then the indicator information has to be collected at that level.


e)                 Detect change

The indicator should be able to detect change and thus be useful for identifying progress with a management objective or performance of a system or the River Basin Organisation. If the indicator does not reflect change because it was poorly selected or the situation has changed then another indicator should be identified. 


f)                   Comparable, repeatable and defensible between sites and times



IWRM is implemented using a set of common principles and the progress and performance of IWRM implementation is best measured using indicators that are comparable between river basins and even between countries. This will improve transboundary water resources management as well as national measures of progress with water sector reform.


Figure 3.1: Summary of the process for developing indicators































g)                 Suitable for integration

IWRM is an integrating approach. This is one of the most difficult aspects of IWRM yet is most likely to be achieved using indicators that can be integrated at a particular scale. For example bringing together indicators on water quality, water availability



and allocation on a map of the river basin serves a particularly valuable method of integrating information into a visual format to influence stakeholders and decision making. Integrating information from different organisations may be necessary to give an overall perspective on IWRM.


4.   Minimum Indicators for Water Management at River Basin Level


Water management objectives may vary for each basin according to circumstances and progress with improving water resources management. A sample set of water management objectives has been drawn from the internationally accepted principles of IWRM and based upon the situation of a relatively young RBO. Following from the discussion above and the key functions of water resources management discussed elsewhere in this manual a draft set of basic indicators has been developed (Table 3.1). The indicators represent the expected result from the implementation of each water management function. In each of the subsequent modules of these materials the water management objectives and indicators are discussed.


This has been developed as a tool from which an RBO can build its own set of indicators that match the stage of development of the basin.


Undoubtedly there will be some areas that the RBO is performing well and beyond the indicators shown in Table 3.1. There will also be other areas where performance is not so good. In the context of sustainable management of water resources one weak function area can have a negative effect on all the others and a goal for the RBO is to achieve satisfactory performance across all the functions.


4.1    Example of pollution management


Controlling pollution takes time and there may be many obstacles. A first ambition level should be set that is realistic and so the water management objective for pollution control may be:


·                   The extent of the pollution problem in the basin is known and progress being measured;

·                   Minimum indicators can be chosen from what will be readily available through a monitoring system or through the administrative system for example:

ü             Polluters licensed according to the regulations (measured by the number of permit/ license holders); and

ü             Extent and seriousness of surface water pollution (measured by samples or by complaints),


The first indicator reports on the outcome of the pollution management process as demonstrated by the number of registered polluters in the basin and the information is therefore readily available if the system has been established.


The second indicator requires a monitoring system to be set up and therefore is more demanding. However an assessment of the pollution problem is essential and the question is therefore only one of scale – how many sample points and how many parameters to measure and how often to measure. Over time the system may become more sophisticated and have more historical data so that the water quality objectives can be adjusted and the indicator more specific.


Starting to collect and report on the indicators sets the base-line for future comparison and therefore a basis to assess progress in the basin.


5.   Lessons


Indicators are useful tools for measuring progress and motivating action in specific areas.

Indicators should be limited to those that can reasonably be measured within the resources of the RBO. Start small, build up gradually.


Web References




Hooper, 2006 Key Performance Indicators of River Basin Organizations. Criteria for ranking indicators available at:



Walmsley, J. Carden, M. Revenga, C. Sagona, F. &M. 2001. Indicators of sustainable development for catchment management in South Africa – Review of indicators from around the world available at:



Makin, I.W., Parks, Y.P. & Linklaen Arriens, W. 2004. Supporting the development of effective and efficient River Basin Organizations in Asia. A discussion of the application of organizational benchmarking approaches available at:





Purpose: To encourage thinking about the indicators in the context of each river basin and what data is being collected.

Activity: Each river basin represented in the course is asked to do ‘homework’ each night and report on its own data for the indicators of water resource management functions presented that day. 

Task – For the indicators presented at the end of each module answer the question ‘Can your river basin report on this indicator?’

Report back: The facilitator will ask for feedback each morning.

Facilitator: Select two river basins to report back. Collect answers from all river basins and summarise results.

Table 3.1: Minimum Indicator Set for Water Resources Management



Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition




Allocating water to major water users and uses, maintaining minimum levels for social and environmental use while addressing equity and development needs of society.

Major water users are known and are managed through a licensing (or permit) system.

Number of surface and groundwater users licensed according to the regulations.


Number of licenses issued. May be further subdivided by use.

Water allocation is in line with sustainable use, economic efficiency and social equity principles.



Water allocation criteria include use efficiency, economic benefit and social goals.


Examine allocation criteria for compliance with IWRM principles.


% of time environmental and social reserve is maintained in major water courses.


Number of records from water resource monitoring stations with flows lower than the reserve divided by the total records x 100. A determination of the reserve is required.



Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition



Managing pollution using polluter pays principles and appropriate incentives to reduce most important pollution problems and minimise environmental and social impact.

The extent of the pollution problem is known and progress being measured.


% of surface water quality samples complying with water quality objectives.


Number of samples below set standard. Simplest approach is to base the determination on measurements of a few key water quality parameters.

% of ground water quality samples complying with water quality objectives.


Number of samples below set standard. Simplest approach is to base the determination on measurements of a few key water quality parameters.

Major polluters are known and are managed through a licensing (or permit) system.

Number of polluters licensed according to the regulations.


Number of licenses issued.



Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition



Prepare and regularly update the Basin Plan incorporating stakeholder views on development and management priorities for the basin, and using it to inform the annual work plans of the RBO.

Basin planning synthesises technical and social priorities for the basin and acts as a basis for action and accountability to the stakeholders.


Water management activities driven by Basin plan.


Examine the link between the basin plan and current water management activities.


Stakeholder priorities reflected in the basin plan.


Examine the basin plan for stakeholder consultation and content.





Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition




Implement effective monitoring systems that provide essential management information and identify and respond to infringements of laws, regulations and permits.

The water allocation system is effective and permits are being complied with.


Proportion of water allocation permit holders complying with permit conditions.


From monitoring visits the number not complying with conditions divided by the total number of visits.

The Pollution control system is effective and permits are being complied with.


Proportion of water pollution permit holders complying with permit conditions.


From monitoring visits the number not complying with conditions divided by the total number of visits.

Knowledge of water resource availability is a basis for management.


Number of water resource monitoring stations producing reliable data.


Number of stations with reliable data records.

Total water storage capacity.


The water storage capacity in artificial storage structures above a minimum size (say 5,000 M3).

% groundwater monitoring stations with declining water levels.


Comparison of water levels over a 5 year period.



Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition



Applying economic and financial tools for cost recovery and behaviour change to support the goals of equitable access and sustainable benefits to society from water use.

Water use efficiency improving through use of economic and financial instruments.


Charges and fees for water allocation favour the poor and efficient water use.


Examine for the application of economic and financial tools in water allocation.

% revenue received.


Total revenue divided by the total amount billed.

Pollution reducing through use of economic and financial instruments.


Pollution charges give incentive to reduce pollution.



Examine for the application of economic and financial tools in water pollution.

% revenue received.


Total revenue divided by the total amount billed.






Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition



Provide essential data necessary to make informed and transparent decisions for development and sustainable management of water resources in the basin.

Essential information is processed and packaged at the right level for specific managers and stakeholders to support transparent decision making and to gain commitment and political support for the decisions made.


Data base is established in formats compatible with other river basin organisations.


Data base is transferable across basins in the country and for transboundary systems.

Water management information is available to managers and other stakeholders as required.


Examine availability of basin data and reports on water resource management indicators.



Water Management Objectives

Progress indicator

Unit/ definition



Implement stakeholder participation as a basis for decision making that takes into account the best interests of society and the environment in the development and use of water resources in the basin.

Effective cooperation between government agencies with responsibilities for water management or water use in the basin.

Number of meetings of Government agencies with water interests to consult and collaborate on water management.


Number of formal or ad hoc meetings at interagency level.

Stakeholder participation is institutionalised in the management of the river basin.


Formal stakeholder structures established with clear roles and responsibilities in water resources management.


Examine basin water management structure for stakeholder organisations and allocated management roles.

Basin stakeholders (male and female) represented in decision making bodies at all levels.


Representatives from stakeholders serving in government water management structures.




Module 4: Stakeholder Participation


Learning Objectives


·     Learn how to identify and categorise stakeholders.

·     Consider different stakeholder structures and responsibilities in water resources management.

·     Get guidance on how to maintain stakeholder participation over time.


1.          Introduction




The notion that stakeholders should have a say in the management of the water resources on which they depend is one of the building blocks of the concept of integrated water resources management. (IWRM) Integrated water resources management has found its way into the national water policies and water laws of many countries and consequently so has the concept of stakeholder participation.


Why do we need stakeholder participation? The main reason is that only the stakeholder interest in, and acceptance of, the water resources management system make it possible to implement in reality. Several benefits from stakeholder participation can be found:

·     It leads to informed decision-making as stakeholders often possess a wealth of information which can benefit water resources management;

·     Stakeholders are the most affected by lack of water resources or poor management decisions on water resources and they are therefore able to prioritise actions in the basin;

·     Consensus at early stages of development projects can reduce the likelihood of conflicts which can harm the implementation and success of such projects;


What other benefits of stakeholder

involvement are there?

?Stakeholder participation can reduce costs and improve effectiveness of water resources management; and

·     The involvement of stakeholders can build trust between the government and civil society, which can possibly lead to long-term collaborative relationships.


My water management objectives for Stakeholder Participation in the basin are:
•	Ensure stakeholder participation is institutionalised in the management of the basin water resources.
•	Establish effective cooperation between government agencies with responsibilities for water management or water use.


The activities associated with these objectives (Box 4.1) emphasise creation of links between different governmental bodies, especially on policy issues, and creation of a structure of stakeholder organisations addressing water resources management.


This module will give an overview on how stakeholders should be involved in water resources management and describe how to identify and mobilise stakeholders. We also look at stakeholder structures in the basin and the roles and responsibilities that they may have and finally some pointers are given to maintain active participation.


2.   Where and how should Stakeholders be Involved?


In countries where water reforms have taken place and water laws have been revised it is often found that stakeholders are identified in the water law and have the possibility to contribute to water management through legal stakeholder structures. This provides an important platform for their formal involvement and collaboration with water management organisations of government.


Stakeholder involvement is much more than public hearings to get feedback on governmental directives or regulations. It is about identifying the public concerns and values and developing broad consensus on plans and new reforms. It is also about utilising the vast amount of information and knowledge that stakeholders hold to find workable, efficient and sustainable solutions to good management of the water resources.




Stakeholders live in the basin and are directly affected by decisions on water resources management either as holders of allocation permits or as water consumers and participants in basin economic and social development. In general stakeholders should be involved in all parts of the water resource management process. Some functions of water resources management where stakeholders play an essential role are given in Table 4.1.


Table 4.1: Possible stakeholder roles in water resources management

Water Management Function

Stakeholder roles

Basin planning

Problem identification, priority setting, situation analysis, approval.

Water Allocation

Advisory, monitoring and reporting, decision making.

Pollution control

Monitoring, reporting, permitting


The roles and responsibilities in some countries will be determined by law. For example in Zimbabwe stakeholder Catchment Councils are empowered to actually take the water allocation decisions whereas in South Africa the Catchment Management Agencies can be delegated such powers by the Minister when they have developed the necessary capacity. In many other countries such decisions are not even made at the basin level and are made at national level by central government officials.


?To develop IWRM plans and plan for development projects a large amount of data and information are needed. It is important to make sure that there is no data and information with the stakeholders that have been omitted. The local knowledge of stakeholders is for them obvious and if this is not taken into account it will build mistrust for the managing authority both because the stakeholders have not been engaged and because the authority seems incompetent.

Give examples of essential information that stakeholders may have for water resources



Monitoring of water use and pollution effluent is in practice impossible without participation of stakeholders. The measurements of all water abstractions and effluent discharges by a centralised organisation would require an enormous amount of human and financial resources. Monitoring should therefore be built on self-monitoring, which reduces the demand on RBO resources.


For a river basin organisation to carry out the main water resource management functions of river basin planning, water allocation, pollution control and monitoring effectively it requires a participatory approach. One of the main functions of an RBO is therefore to create a stakeholder participation process in the river basin. This process involves the identification, mobilisation, organisation and capacity building of stakeholders but also, which is more difficult, to maintain the level of involvement over time. As indicated above, the different parts of water resources management may need different ways of stakeholder involvement. The RBO must also take this into account when designing the stakeholder participation.


3.   Stakeholder Inventory and Mobilisation


3.1    Stakeholder inventory


A first step for an RBO is to identify and group the stakeholders in the river basin.


In identifying the key stakeholders the following questions should be considered:

·                Who are the potential beneficiaries from water management decisions?

·                Who might be adversely impacted?

·                Have vulnerable groups who may be impacted been identified?

·                Have supporters and opponents of changes to water management systems been identified?

·                Are gender interests adequately identified and represented?

·                What are the relationships among the stakeholders?


Although the above questions are fairly straight-forward the initial identification of stakeholders is not easy. One problem is often to define the system boundaries. Water affects society in many ways and the socio-economic development of a major river basin in a country may affect stakeholders on the national and even international scale.




A second problem is one of representation - it is not possible to consult everyone and for formal stakeholder structures there is need for representation to be legitimate. It is therefore important at an early stage to categorise the stakeholders. These categories should recognise the different interests and provide the basis for determining representation in water management structures.


One common way to categorise stakeholders is as follows:

1.    Water users defined as those who need a water-use permit according to the water law and policies. They may be subdivided by competing use such as farmers, utilities, industry, mining, local government, hydropower and so on;

2.    Governmental institutions that according to their public service role have a stake in water management in the river basin. It is particularly important to identify government institutions that have influence or impact on water management such as agriculture (land use), environment (land use, pollution management, ecosystem health) so as to engage them in policy development; and

3.    Civil society and its non-governmental organisations.


Depending on the status of the basin and the RBO the next steps may be to raise awareness of the stakeholders in coming changes to water resources management, to engage them in structures for water management, or just to consult with them on specific proposals. The purpose will determine the scale and outcome of the next activities.


An actual inventory of stakeholders in the basin is demanding and should not be underestimated. In many river basins, especially where communication is poor, finding all stakeholder groups is cumbersome and requires much time. It is also important to note that for many stakeholders the inventory is the first time they come in contact with the RBO. Moreover, in countries with large part of informal water outtakes a visit or interest from a governmental body is not always seen as positive.


The inventory must therefore be made with care and include information exchange. This further demands resources as the RBO representatives must take their time to answer questions from the stakeholders. This first meeting with the stakeholder may determine the relation between the RBO and the stakeholder for a long time and may thus affect how successful the future stakeholder participation process will be.


3.2    Stakeholder mobilisation


Can you have

too much


?Stakeholder mobilisation may take place at any time for specific reasons. It is common to mobilise people to provide information or to contribute to a planning process and when, as is often the case, there is no further contact they will not be very receptive in the future. It is important to be honest to yourself as well as to the community what the expectations are as often stakeholder participation is carried out just to say it has been done. Is the intention behind the mobilisation manipulative participation (Table 4.1) or self-mobilisation?




A simple and direct way of mobilising the stakeholders is to invite them to come to workshops in which more information about the RBO is provided, and in which problems or other situations with respect to water resources management in the sub-basins are heard and discussed. Again these types of early contacts are very important not just for organising the stakeholders but also to build the long-term relation between the stakeholders and the RBO.


Figure 4.1: Types of stakeholder participation

Manipulative participation	Participation is simply a pretence
Passive participation	People participate by being told what has been decided or has already happened. Information shared belongs only to external professionals
Participation by consultation	People participate by being consulted or by answering questions. No share in decision-making is conceded and professionals are under no obligation to take on board people’s views
Participation for material incentives	People participate in return for food, cash or other material incentives. Local people have no stake in prolonging practices when the incentives end
Functional participation	Participation is seen by external agencies as a means to achieve project goals, especially reduced cost. People may participate by forming groups to meet predetermined project objectives
Interactive participation	People participate in joint analysis, which leads to action plans and the formation or strengthening of local groups or institutions that determine how available resources are used. Learning method is used to seek multiple viewpoints. 
Self-mobilization	People participate by taking initiatives independently of external institutions. They develop contacts with external institutions for resources and technical advice but retain control over how resources are used
SOURCE:  Dalal-Clayton B, Bass S (2002)

Mobilisation may be through information material distribution, visits to communities, participation in community meetings or by bringing representatives to a specific meeting. Again the actual means and scale of the stakeholder participation intervention should be determined by the expected outcome of the process.


4.          Stakeholder Organisation and Structure


4.1    Formal stakeholder structures


Depending upon the specific legal situation new water management systems usually define some structure for stakeholder participation. This is particularly important as a formal stakeholder structure makes the work of the RBO much easier, limiting the need for continued stakeholder mobilisation and ensuring a formal and regular link to the stakeholders. In many countries stakeholders are given a legal status and will create their own entity in a river basin. In other countries the stakeholders have only an advisory function.




There is no blue-print for how to build the structure of stakeholder fora. Figure 4.2 shows the possible links between governmental bodies and stakeholder organisations at different levels. For large river basins there is a practical need for introducing sub-basin committees or similar. Each of these sub-committees has a number of representatives in the main river basin committee. Likewise, stakeholders belonging to a certain sector may have a branch organisation (e.g. water user associations, farmer unions) that is represented in the sub-basin or basin committees.


Figure 4.2: Possible links between stakeholders and governmental bodies


























If there are no guidelines in the national water law or policies the stakeholder forum should basically be decided by the stakeholders themselves. Because the stakeholders normally are diversified with different backgrounds, education and interest it is, however, recommended that the RBO takes a leading role in the building process.


For the RBO to take this leading role it is beneficial to understand the stakes of different interest groups among the stakeholders, where they wish to participate, and what their expectations and skills are. It is also good to understand the power and key stakeholders and the relationships between them. In situations where the stakeholder structures have decision making power there is usually a formal process to identify the membership and the representation of different stakeholder groups.


Text Box: Box 4.2: Stakeholder responsibilities

In Zimbabwe sub-catchment councils have the responsibility to monitor water usage by permit holders. They are legally allowed to raise a levy to cover the costs of this task. Catchment councils, made up from chairpersons of sub-catchment councils, have responsibility to allocate water and also to prepare Basin plans with the support of the RBO (ZINWA).

The funding for the Catchment Council comes from the water allocation fees paid to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
It is important to clarify early on the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholder structures in the water resources management process. The water management objectives for the basic functions of the RBO will give guidance. The objectives on basin planning, water allocation, pollution control and monitoring will determine the need and level of stakeholder involvement. For example the water users may be given the responsibility to do monitoring on the local scale under supervision of the RBO. In this case the structure of the stakeholders must be designed to enable easy communication on the local scale. Another example is that the objectives for basin planning may require consensus among the major stakeholders on water development plans. In this case formal stakeholder structures are invaluable.




In such basin committees an essential issue is representation: how are different stakeholder groups represented in the central forum. Procedures and guidelines must be clarified on how different groups are represented and how these representatives are selected and replaced from time to time. Clear and documented rules for this are important to obtain equitable participation.


4.2    Government as a stakeholder


Cross-sectoral coordination deserves a special mention under stakeholder participation. Coordination between different sectors often means the cooperation, or at least exchange of information, between different governmental ministries and departments. It is therefore closely linked to the water management objective of effective cooperation between government agencies with responsibilities for water in the basin.


As indicated in Figure 4.2 inter-ministerial committees are located in between the columns for stakeholders and governmental bodies. This is because many governmental organisations may be managing water resources, users of water resources or have responsibility for programme areas that directly impact on water resources management. Local Governments are in many cases responsible for the water supply and sanitation and are therefore in the category of water user. At the same time Local Government is obviously an important stakeholder when it comes to water resources allocation or basin planning for development.


The Environment Agency is another example as a partner to an RBO in that they often have responsibility for water pollution management – the RBO is then a stakeholder to influence how the Environment Agency sets policy and implements this programme. Agriculture may establish policies and programmes on land management, cropping or irrigation that directly affect the management of water resources in a basin and again the RBO should see itself as a stakeholder in the policy decisions of the Ministry of Agriculture.


For an RBO it is therefore essential to coordinate its work with other ministries, either through inter-ministerial structures or directly with corresponding local departments of other ministries. This coordination is in many cases needed in parallel with the RBO interaction with the basin committees where there may be ministry representatives. If this coordination is neglected the RBO risks to be limited in its possibility to manage the water resources effectively.


Stakeholder participation must therefore normally be carried out at several levels.


5.   Maintaining Active Participation


Despite the long and difficult process of mobilising and organising the stakeholders, the largest challenge for an RBO is probably to maintain active stakeholder participation in a river basin. A key is to ensure that the stakeholders see the benefit of their participation. For many stakeholders water resources management may seem only negative since they suddenly are faced with restriction of water abstractions and effluent discharges or demands on self-monitoring. In addition they have to take time from their own work activities and means of getting an income. In this perspective, it is a large responsibility of the RBO to provide and present concrete benefits of being involved in the water resources management process in the river basin.


Below are a number of guidelines to keep in mind for promoting active stakeholder participation:




Information dissemination – Information is enormously important to keep up the stakeholders’ interest for water resources management and to create a sense of local ownership of the process. A variety of information tools are available (workshops, information leaflets, web pages, visits and consultations on the ground, etc) and is described in detail in another part of this manual. A particular activity is to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed of the status of water resource management in the basin through regular reports on key indicators;

·     Capacity building of the stakeholders – Stakeholder participation is often hampered because the capacity of the stakeholders is too low or some stakeholders know much more than others. It is important to recognise that there are stakeholders in every basin that are knowledgeable people but others may need to be brought to a similar level for effective participation. The RBO should have an active capacity building programme for new members to be sure that they have the exposure and support to enable them to perform the responsibilities they are tasked with;

·     Giving responsibility and clear roles – Without responsibility and clear roles no-one will continue to attend meetings;

·     Parallel development of the water resources – Concrete development of the water resources and addressing problems in the basin is key for promoting participation. Water resources management basically aims at improving the accessibility to water which gives socio-economic development and better living conditions for the stakeholders. Development projects are not just a sign of that the water resources management gives something back to the stakeholders, it also gives opportunity to discussion and participation while it is being developed. It is therefore important for RBOs to, as much as possible, coordinate development projects with the participatory process. A long delay between planning and decision and the commencement of actual development on the ground ?

Give examples of other services that you provide to the stakeholders.


is very de-motivating for stakeholder participation; and

·     Providing services – The RBO often sits on a large knowledge and information base that is valuable for the stakeholders. Examples may be river flow statistics for design of small weirs or water outtakes, rainfall statistics and soil type information for agriculture planning, groundwater aquifer characteristics, etc. Especially in situations where the RBO needs the stakeholders’ participation for monitoring it is essential to offer valuable data in return.


6.   Lessons


·     Stakeholder participation, especially in the early stages, needs a lot of resources.




Without active lobbying, women’s representation becomes low in the stakeholder fora.

·     The large stakeholders dominate and set the agenda, which make the small-scale stakeholders uninterested to participate.

·     The immediate needs for rural small-scale stakeholders are normally not considered in large-scale river basin management.


Text Box: Box 4.3: HOW ARE YOU DOING? 

Measure progress with stakeholder participation in your basin:
•	Are Government agencies in the basin with water interests consulted for collaboration on water management?
•	Are formal stakeholder structures in place with clear roles and responsibilities in water resources management?
•	Are basin stakeholders represented in decision making bodies of the basin?


Web References


US EPA, Engaging and Involving Stakeholders in Your Watershed available at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/outreach/documents/stakeholderguide.pdf


UNESCO (2003) Participation, Consensus building, and Conflict management Training Course available at:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001333/133308e.pdf


Dalal-Clayton  B. Swiderska K, Bass S (2002) Stakeholder Dialogues on Sustainable Development Strategies. Lessons, Opportunities and Developing Country Case Studies. Environmental Planning Issues No 26, November 2002. International Institute For Environment and Development. London, United Kingdom available at:  http://www.nssd.net/res_book.html#casestudies



Purpose: To raise the awareness about stakeholder issues and challenges of real stakeholder participation in basin management.

Activity: Organise a debate between those in favour of stakeholder participation and those against.
In favour - argue why stakeholders should be involved in water resources management in the basin and the extent of involvement.
Against- argue why stakeholders should NOT be involved in water resources management in the basin.

Facilitator: Ask the participants to choose which side they want to be on. Allow 15 minutes for each group to prepare their lines of argument. (Allow 30 minutes for the debate and 15 minutes for summing up.)







Module 5: Water Allocation


Learning Objectives


·               Learn the basic elements of water allocation and the links to other RBO functions.

·               Get a basic understanding of system analysis.

·               Understand how to develop procedures for water permits.


1.   Introduction


Access to clean water is a human right and is vested in the law of most countries. The right to groundwater and surface water is also commonly linked to the ownership of land. As water resources have become more scarce in many parts of the world there is a common view emerging that management of water resources needs to be improved.


In river basins where there is water scarcity, or will be in the future, there is a need to regulate the water usage to ensure sustainable, equitable and efficient utilisation of the resource. The regulation of the water resources is normally made through a permit or licensing system, which enable the government or state authorities to allocate the resources taking into account all stakeholder interests, including the environment. In countries with abundant water resources this may not be needed but with the increased pressure on the water resources, both in terms of quantity and quality, this is becoming a rare situation.



My water management objectives for Water Allocation in the basin are:
•	Ensure major water users are known and are managed through a licensing or permit system.
•	Implement water allocation in accordance with sustainable use, economic efficiency and social equity principles.




This module outlines how water allocation is conducted through a permit or license system. Section 2 gives an explanation of equity and defines the water management objectives. Section 3 describes the fundamentals of water resources system analysis, which water allocation is often based on, while Section 4 gives guidance on how to develop water permits.


2.   Water Management Objectives in Water Allocation


Water allocation is about allocating water to users and uses while maintaining necessary levels for basic human needs and the environment. In water scarce regions, equitable and reasonable utilisation of the water resources is one of the key parts of IWRM and is normally expressed explicitly as a water governance principle in international and national water laws and policies.


Equity in this sense does not mean that everyone should be given an equal amount of water. It means that everyone has fair opportunities to access, use and control of the water resources. It also means that everyone must take the responsibility for the negative side effects of abstracting water so that no part of the society will be disadvantaged.


2.1    Water resources management objectives


In regions of water scarcity or competition the first water resources management objective linked to allocation is therefore to have a water permit system in place to enable the authorities to control water usage (Box 5.1)


This allocation system or procedure is also the appropriate vehicle to implement other water management objectives related to equity and efficiency. (Box 5.1)




The first water management objective identifies the need for an allocation system and the second water management objective prescribes some of the criteria that should be used when making allocation decisions.


2.2    Linkage to other water management functions


Water allocation is, together with pollution management in many ways the centre of the RBO’s work (Figure 5.1) supported by other functions.


Figure 5.1: The water allocation and pollution control functions are dependent on input from the other functions


Basin planning provides the setting for water allocation. It provides the naturally available surface and groundwater resources and the environmental flow requirements. It also gives present and projected future socio-economic conditions, water demand and infrastructural development. All this information is the basis for how much water is needed and how much can be allocated in the river basin.


Financial management gives the tools to encourage and, if necessary, force efficient use of water. In especially water-scarce regions this function is fundamental for sustainable water use.


Stakeholder participation and information management give transparency and ownership to the decided allocation. This is a prerequisite for the water users to respect the allocation system. Through participatory activities coordination between different water uses is also made possible. Monitoring of water use and water resources is necessary to enforce the water allocation.


If water policies have been developed, which is normally done on the national scale, and all these other functions are in place, the water resources management function of water allocation boils down to one difficult element: to develop procedures for authorising water licenses or permits.


3.   Water Resources System Analysis




One of the fundamentals of water allocation (and pollution control) is that any form of abstraction, transfer, storage or other influence on a natural stream has effects in the entire downstream river system.


To analyse the effects of a new requested activity in a river for authorisation purposes, the whole river system must therefore be analysed as one unit. This is normally called system analysis. Although, this may seem like a technically simple exercise, it is not, and the lack of understanding of the principles of system analysis is one of the main obstacles for equitable water allocation in river basins. Before discussing procedures for water permit it is therefore important to go through some of these principles.


The main principles that have to be understood by the RBO and have to be educated to the stakeholders are:

1.             Water allocation has to take into account the temporal variation of river runoff;

2.             Water allocation must be made on the appropriate scale;

3.             Water allocation is influenced by the assumed future socio-economic development, especially in water-scarce regions; and

4.             Water allocation is in almost all cases based on uncertain input data and can therefore not provide guarantees.


Figure 5.2 shows an example of a natural flow variation in a river basin. What is important to understand for the stakeholders is that what governs the guaranteed water at a certain point in the river is the minimum flow for an infinite long period with natural variation in rainfall and runoff. In a system with storage dams, this occasion of minimum yield does not have to be the same as the day or month with the lowest natural runoff. A longer period of semi-dry conditions may in this case be governing the ensured yield. Because of the temporal variation in river runoff the allocated water must therefore be associated with a certain probability of supply for the user. For example urban water supplies are normally given a higher probability of supply than agricultural water hence the raw water costs more and the urban utility is given preferential access in times of shortage.



Figure 5.2:     The long-term available water resources of a river basin are governed by the dry periods





System analysis is to compare all water demands in a river basin with the water availability in the system, both for existing and future water conditions, as well as with current and possible future water infrastructure. Even in river basins that are little committed in terms of water use the system normally becomes very complicated.


When analysing a water permit application it is therefore essential to choose the correct scale. This scale has to be chosen so that effects of the water abstraction on downstream stakeholders are not overlooked but at the same time keeping the system small enough to be workable and understandable. Again for individual stakeholders, the explanation that his/her abstraction is only one of many and that the accumulated effects of all abstractions may be affecting others located very far away is important to accept water allocation decisions.


Text Box:  Fig. 5.3:    The Maputo River basin in Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa is still committed to a limited degree. A system analysis conducted however reveals that the description of allocated water in the river basin is very complicated.





Groundwater resources are an important part of the system analysis. Although normally small compared to surface water resources, the availability of groundwater does not vary as much with the seasons. During dry periods, which govern the allocated amount of water, the contribution from groundwater may be significant.


An essential part of the system analysis is to predict the future socio-economic development. In general terms, the more development, the more water demand although improved economic conditions also provides for water demand management. The assumed economic development thus directly influences how much water can be allocated to guarantee a sustainable situation also during future conditions. Since socio-economic development is very difficult to forecast, the normal procedure is therefore to do system analysis under different scenarios. This means that the decision on water allocation also has to include a choice of which scenario of economic development to adopt. 


The final principle that must be acknowledged by all stakeholders is that system analysis is not an exact science. There are many examples where different analyses have come up with totally different safe yields, which have caused conflicts between stakeholders. The reason for this is the inherent uncertainty in the inputs for the system analysis: hydrology, groundwater yields, water uses, future development, etc. Thus a water permit procedure must take into consideration this uncertainty.


4.   Water Permits




Considering the difficulties of allocating water by taking everything into account, as described in the previous chapter, the water management objectives may be seen as a guide to priority setting for implementing water allocation. A situation where all major water users are known and are registered at the RBO is a very important first step. Water allocation is based on the principal that everyone in the river basin is involved. The existence of water users that by-pass the rules will inevitably mean that the allocation system will fall apart.


The next step is to give all major users a permit to abstract water or build storage. This permit may be with or without limitations. In a river basin with abundant water resources it may be sufficient to allow open permits as long as they are registered and provide monitoring information. In most cases, however, water resources are not abundant and the permit must therefore be conditioned with limitations in use, etc. How this permit system is structured is often controlled by the national water law. In many cases the water law gives a minimum abstraction for which a water permit is needed, what institution has the authority to approve such permit and who has the regulatory responsibilities.


How are decisions on allocation of water made in your river basin and who are involved?

?If stakeholder participation in the water allocation process is not, or only partly, directed by the water laws the structuring of stakeholder fora is an essential task for the RBO. Even if the central RBO is the institution assigned with authorising the permits it may be beneficial to create a decentralised organisation where the decision is taken at a local scale and with participation of the stakeholders. To strive for management at the lowest appropriate level, is therefore recommended delegating water allocation to local authorities, water user groups or stakeholder committees.



Box 5.2: Example from Mozambique




When the responsibilities and participatory structure of the permit system are in place the next step is to develop general rules and principles for water allocation. These rules should be established in conjunction with the stakeholder structures.


4.1    Allocation Criteria


Besides prioritisation of different sectors, the rules and criteria of water allocation should address major issues such as:

·               Acceptable probability of supply for different sectors and users;

·               Legal certainty – period of time the permit is valid;

·               Public review mechanisms and possibility for stakeholders to challenge new permits or the misuse of permits;

·               Conflict resolution or appeal mechanisms;

·               Levies and fees for application and abstracted water volumes; and

·               Definition of extreme conditions, e.g. droughts when special rules may apply.


The basic information that needs to be included in an application for a water permit and which provides the base for the approving process is:

·               Where is the water abstracted and from what source;

·               How much and when is water abstracted;

·               How is water abstracted; and

·               What is the abstracted water used for.


The general rules and principles must guide how this information is analysed. A full system analysis for the entire river basin is in practical terms impossible to conduct for every water permit application. The rules must therefore provide guidance for what procedure to follow depending on the type of abstraction.


In certain cases, e.g. in parts of the river basin with no water scarcity or if the water abstracted is small in volume, the approval procedure may be simplified. On the other hand if a significant storage is to be built with large outtakes and altering of the river regime a full system analysis must probably be made covering all downstream river reaches.


As a minimum a hydrological assessment must be made for all water permit applications where the abstraction is compared with the available water resources taking into account water use for basic human needs and environment.


The next step involves a comparison with the available water resources taking all other outtakes into account. This analysis involves prioritisation, reliability of supply and certification issues of water and is therefore much more complicated. This step is where the water management objective of equity and social priorities is addressed.

Do you have a system for re-allocation of water to higher priority needs?


Allocation mechanisms should be applied that promote efficient use and favour uses that have greater impact on social and economic development. These criteria may be more difficult to apply initially but will become necessary as water resources become more limited. This has been one of the main drivers for some countries to adopt the market approach to water allocation allowing the sale of water permits.


The setting of criteria for water allocation should include all the above issues; prioritisation, reliability of supply and efficiency of use.

 At the same time it must be simple enough to be applicable and understandable for the stakeholders.


4.2    Management Tools




Since system analysis is very complicated to conduct a way to handle this is through regular river basin studies where the basin is analysed as a whole and the results are presented in the basin plan. In such case the basin plan includes directives on which sectors are prioritised in different parts of the river basin and to what level. As long as the water permit applications fall within the basin plan a simplified authorisation process can be applied.


The technical tools needed for an RBO for a water permit system include:

·                   Geographical Information System (GIS);

·                   Hydrological modelling tools;

·                   System analysis modelling tools


The GIS is a fundamental tool for water allocation where the water users’ locations are stored and displayed in a map format. The GIS can also be linked to databases giving details on the stakeholders, type of water use, abstraction volumes, permit status, etc. Hydrological models are needed since observed river runoff in general never covers sufficient detail needed for water allocation. Experience is that models must be updated continuously for doing the basic analysis of new water permits required by the water management objectives. System analysis tools are needed at least for doing the regular basin analysis and plans.


For an RBO it is therefore important to have access to these tools and to build up an institutional capacity for using them. The tools need to be used on a regular basis to be accurate and to maintain the human skills.





5.   Lessons


Many river systems of the world are already over-utilised because of lack of water allocation systems. Experience of water allocation in river basins has also shown that large stakeholders use their power and political influence to favour themselves. Economic instruments for steering the abstractions to more beneficial use of the water are still very rarely applied.


The major lessons therefore are:

·               In a water scarce river basin, all major water users should be known and should have a permit.

·               Clear guidelines and criteria must exist for how and by whom water allocation decisions are taken.

·               These guidelines and criteria shall take into account the fundamental basics water use: sustainability, equity and efficiency.




Text Box: Box 5.3: HOW ARE YOU DOING? 
Measure progress with water allocation in your basin:
•	Are surface water users licensed according to the regulations?
•	Are groundwater users licensed according to the regulations?
•	Do water allocation criteria include requirements for use efficiency; consider economic benefit and social goals?
•	Is the environmental and social reserve maintained in the river?


Web References


United Nations, 2000, Principles and practices of water allocation among water-use sectors, Water Resources Series, No. 80, United Nations available at:  http://cap-net.org/sites/cap-net.org/files/wtr_mngmnt_tls/78_water_allocation.pdf


Water Allocation

Purpose:  To share experience on water allocation systems and criteria.

Activity: Break into three groups and discuss for 45 minutes.

For river basins represented in the group -
•	Discuss how the water allocations are made and the existing water allocation criteria and analyse whether the criteria address the IWRM goals of equity, economic efficiency and sustainability;
•	Propose improved allocation criteria.

Report back: 30 minutes.

Facilitator: It is possible that there are minimal criteria for allocation, discuss the implications of this.






Module 6: Pollution Management


Learning Objectives


·     To establish a basis for water pollution management.

·     To understand approaches and options including steps for planning pollution control measures.

·     Derivation of management interventions, tools and instruments needed to fulfil the pollution control objectives.


1.   Introduction


Why does pollution generate little interest and

practical action?


Water resources management entails two closely related elements, i.e. the maintenance and development of adequate quantities of water of adequate quality. Thus, water resources management cannot be conducted properly without paying due attention to water quality.




Managing water pollution is clearly one of the most critical challenges to sustainable management of water resources. Without urgent and properly directed action, many countries and particularly developing countries face mounting problems as water resources become more contaminated. Pollution is increasing rapidly with urbanisation, industrialisation and population growth, yet many countries have inadequate institutional and legislative systems to address the problem effectively.




My water management objectives for Pollution control in the basin are to:
•	Measure the extent of the pollution problem and the progress being made.
•	Ensure major polluters are known and are managed through a licensing or permit system.


This module discusses:

a)                 The framework for action on pollution;

b)                 The process of preparing a pollution control plan; and

c)                 Implementation.


2.     Legal and Regulatory Framework


2.1    Water management objectives for pollution Control


Empowered by the national legislation the managing organisation needs to establish water management objectives for pollution that are feasible within the intended time frame and are measurable (Box 6.1). The initial objectives will revolve around the need to understand the scale and scope of the problem and start to control the sources of pollution.


Is the policy framework supportive of pollution control in your country?


?Pollution control objectives require supportive legislation, policies and institutions - institutions that will assume the responsibilities for issuance of permits, coordination etc. Often the primary responsibility for pollution control lies with another authority other than the water management agency. Moreover, policy statements regarding water pollution control may be found scattered within the legislative framework in connection with the establishment of environmental legislation, but also within the framework of water resources management, and some other aspects within the public health regulation.


The River Basin Organisation or the water management authority may take the role of a stakeholder when discussing with the agency responsible for pollution management. Clearly mechanisms for multi-stakeholder participation are essential.


2.2    Principles for pollution management


In establishing the legal and regulatory environment for pollution management there are several important principles or guides to be applied:

i)               Prevent rather than treat: Clean up of polluted sites and water bodies is generally much more expensive and challenging than applying measures to prevent pollution from occurring in the first place;




Use the precautionary principle: Establishment of a causal link between the substance and pollution may take a very long time to establish and often is too late;

iii)            Apply the polluter-pays-principle: Costs of pollution prevention, control and reduction measures should be borne by the polluter. This is an economic instrument ensuring that costs are distributed fairly and encouraging changes in polluter behaviour. To the extent possible pollution control should be financed from revenues paid by polluters;

iv)           Apply realistic standards and regulations: Standards must be achievable and the regulations enforceable otherwise they result in more harm than having no standards and regulations, because they create an attitude of indifference, both among polluters and administrators alike;

v)             Balance economic and regulatory instruments: RBOs will best achieve results by a mixture of regulations aimed at predictable goals and economic incentives for polluters to modify their behaviour;

vi)           Apply water pollution control at the lowest appropriate level: Decisions or actions for water pollution control should be taken as close as possible to those affected but adapted to administrative and technical capacity at that level, in full consultation and involvement of affected groups; and

vii)          Establish mechanisms for cross-sectoral integration: Pollution control requires co-operation, co-ordination and information exchange across water-related sectors, such as health, agriculture, environment and forestry.


2.3    Types of pollution


Broadly, pollution may be classified in two categories:

a)                 Point source pollution that refers to sources that is easily recognisable. The common characteristic of point source discharges is that they are identifiable and are the easiest to monitor and control; and


b)             Non point source pollution or diffuse pollution refers to pesticides or fertilisers from agricultural fields; urban run-off and erosion from poor land use practices and other similar situations. This is much more difficult to identify and control.


2.4    Pollution control approaches



Do you effectively control point source pollution?


A pollution control program may approach the problem from the perspective of water quality criteria for the receiving water bodies (water body control) or by placing a limit to the volume and/or strength of the discharges entering the environment (effluent/emission control).


In case of managing quality of receiving water bodies this is technically demanding and difficult to manage. The first priority in establishing a pollution management system should be to manage point source pollution and once this is effective to turn attention to non point sources and receiving water quality.


a)                 Regulation of point sources

Point source pollution is most often controlled through a system of licences or permits. These regulate and set conditions for discharge of polluting substances into the environment. The permit system should contain incentives to reduce or stop discharges altogether and this may be done through a combination of the fees plus education or financial support for movement to better technology or recycling.


b)                 Regulation of non-point source pollution



In order to manage non-point source pollution the relationship between pollution and land-use activities must be established. This will often require a geographical information system to hold and to relate data associated with land use (e.g. cropping intensity, vegetation clearance and soil erosion information). Evidently, control of non-point pollution sources will rely heavily on coordination with other sectors for example agriculture and urban authorities and cooperation in policy setting.


c)                 Community Monitoring 

One approach to pollution control is to engage the community. In practice any regulatory agency has difficulty in monitoring the large geographic areas necessary to control pollution. The impact of pollution is usually felt at the community level and therefore they are a logical resource to use. Ways in which they may be involved are:

·               Holders of pollution permits may be required to report their own discharges and also the quality of the receiving water on a defined frequency;

·               Water user associations and other groups can be encouraged, and given means to report episodes of pollution; and

·               Schools can be provided with kits to assess river health and the state of the catchment to both raise awareness of pollution risks and to stimulate response by the appropriate authorities.


2.5    Groundwater protection


Groundwater requires a special mention because it usually requires special efforts to protect it from pollution. General pollution control for discharges and measures taken to prevent non-point source pollution on land can apply equally to groundwater protection; practically any activity on the surface can have an effect on the quality of underground water. Being out of sight, it is not always apparent that damage has been, or is being, done to the groundwater resource and yet clean-up of groundwater pollution is expensive and may take hundreds of years.


The need to prevent groundwater pollution is therefore important because of the long term impact as well as the dependency on groundwater resources for many drinking water supplies.


The concept of groundwater pollution risk is based on the interaction between the potential pollution load and the vulnerability derived from the natural characteristics of the strata. Critical areas for groundwater pollution are determined by comparing the vulnerability map with a potential contaminant load map drawn up on the basis of records of industrial activity, urban development, mining activities, waste disposal sites, and agricultural field.


Have you any examples of serious groundwater pollution?



The framework for groundwater pollution control requires measures such as:

·               Identification of threats to groundwater from point or diffuse sources, and by both conservative and degradable pollutants in the basin;

·               Classification of groundwater in terms of vulnerability and definition of source protection zones; and




Policies and strategies on how polluting activities may be controlled to reduce or to eliminate the risks.


Text Box: Box 6.2: Applying a mix of regulation and economic instruments

Prior to 2006 the majority of businesses in Kigali disposed of their wastewater on-site. Growing concern for groundwater quality drove the city authority to forbid underground disposal of wastewater and issued a time-bound notice to major businesses to attain minimum effluent standards before discharging to the storm water drains. Stiff consequences were specified for non-compliance. National government in consultation with Rwanda Environmental Management Agency, have provided tax waiver on purchase of technology that protected the environment. A good number of the polluters have complied and because the effluent standards were very stringent, many have opted to re-use the water for non-potable purposes.


3.   Planning for Pollution Control


Pollution control planning comprises the following elements:

·               Identification and initial analysis of water pollution problems and future predictions;

·               Define management objectives and strategy;

·               Derive management interventions, tools and instruments needed to fulfil the pollution management objectives; and

·               Establish an action plan for implementation, monitoring and updating of the plan.


3.1    Problem identification and analysis


The first step is identification and assessment of existing and potential water quality problems. The objective of the assessment is not to solve the problems but to identify and list the problems, and to identify priority areas within which more detailed Text Box: Box 6.3: Impact of pollution

Hartebeesport dam in the North Western Province of South Africa was completed in 1924 and is an important source for water supply and irrigation water for commercial farms downstream. Gradually, discharges from wastewater treatment plant and municipal areas around Johannesburg and Pretoria have increased the pollutant levels in the feeding streams, and eventually resulted in algal blooms and high pollutant levels in the dam water. This change in the water quality has rendered dam water unsuitable for tobacco farming. Consequently, the farmers downstream of the dam were forced to alternative crops. A nearby water supply treatment facility also indicated that it now costs much more to treat water.

investigations should be carried out.


a)                 Categorisation of water quality problems

Identified water quality problems may fall into different categories requiring application of different management tools and interventions for optimal resolution of the problems.




For example, if a problem exists at the basin scale it might be necessary to consider imposing general effluent standards, regulations or other relevant measures. In contrast, if the problem is limited to a small geographic region it might only be necessary to consider local regulation or intervention to settle a dispute.


It may also be useful to categorise water quality problems as either “impact issues” or “user-requirement issues”. Impact issues are those that result in environmental damage or impact for example on the health of the community downstream. User-requirement issues are those which derive from an inadequate matching of user-specified water quality requirements (demand) and the actual quality of the available resources (supply). (Box 6.3).


b)        Prioritisation of action

Even if all existing and potential water quality problems could be identified it is not feasible to solve them all at once and priorities have to be established.


The process of assigning priority to water quality problems requires a management decision and some important aspects to be considered include:


·     economic impact

·   duration of impact

·     human health impact

·   type of pollution

·     impact on ecosystem

·   geographical extent of impact

Text Box: Box 6.4: Pollution is a political issue
It is sometimes easy to set up the pollution management system but often difficult to implement. One of the main reasons for this is that government is the regulator but often the most significant polluter. In South Africa the management of pollution is the responsibility of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. They find it very difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute another arm of government, the Local Authority, who are responsible for much of the pollution occurring from inadequately treated sewage.

As an example, the uncontrolled growth of water hyacinth in a water body may lead to a deterioration in water quality from oxygen depletion, may also hamper navigation, affect fishing and increase the cost of water supply treatment with considerable economic consequences. Thus, based on this simple analysis, combating the proliferation of water hyacinth should be given a higher priority than might be indicated by purely environmental considerations.

For ease of communication with stakeholders and measuring progress it is common that the quality of water resources in a basin is classified using a simple colour coding on a map. This is a very effective tool to mobilise support from politicians and others to the action plan.


Figure 6.1: Pollution status in the Tana River Basin
















3.2    Management objectives and strategy


Establishing objectives for water pollution control, is essentially a definition of the contribution to the ultimate goal which might only be achievable after some considerable time due to financial, human or other constraints. The more separated the objective is from the initial situation the more difficult it is to achieve because a lot of assumptions and uncertainties need to be included.


a)                 Objectives

Water management objectives for pollution control need to be realistic and measurable such as those under 2.1 above. The objectives identified also provide a means by which the performance of the responsible organisation will be measured and it is in everyone’s interest that they be realistic.

Rounded Rectangle: If the present situation is characterised by extremely scarce financial and human resources and major obstacles to economic and social development, it would not be appropriate to define very high standards of water pollution control in the objective, simply because this situation would most likely never occur.






b)                 Strategy Development

Strategy development involves making important decisions on how to implement the programme. The strategy decision will be influenced by cost, feasibility, human resources, legal and regulatory framework as well as effectiveness.


Figure 6.2: Overview of the process for preparation of a pollution control plan