Volume 15, Issue 4

December 1999




Asit K. Biswas, President, Third World Centre for Water Management, and Chairman, Committee on International Collaboration, International Water Resources Association, Mexico

E-mail: akbiswas@cablevision.net.mx

Abstract: The issue of management of international rivers has proven to be a difficult subject to deal with at major international fora. Even though the subject has become increasingly important since the 1970s, international organizations are conspicuous by the ir absence in this area in terms of playing an active role in facilitating operational agreements. The paper briefly reviews developments in this since 1972. It provides a historical background to how the Register of International Rivers was prepared in 1976 and published in 1978. This document is widely quoted, but one would be hard pressed to identify a single reference in recent years that is correct. This probably indicates that very few people have actually read it, but are quoting the text from secondary and tertiary sources.


Aaron T. Wolfa, Jeffrey A. Nathariusb, Jeffrey J. Danielsonc, Brian S. Wardd and Jan K. Pendere

aOregon State University; bAlabama Office of Water Resources; cRayth on, EROS Data Center; dOregon State University; eLegacy, Inc

Abstract: It is becoming acknowledged that water is likely to be the most pressing environmental concern of the next century. Difficulties in river basin management are only exacerbated when the resource crosses international boundaries. One critical aid in the assessment of international waters has been the Register of International Rivers-a compendium which listed 214 international waterways that cover 47% of the earth’s continental land surface. The Register, though, was last updated in 1978 by the now defunct United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The purpose of this paper is to update the Register in order to reflect the quantum changes that have taken place over the last 22 years, both in global geopolitics and in map coverage and technology. By accessing digital elevation models at spatial resolutions of 30 arc seconds, corroborating at a unified global map coverage of at least 1:1 000 000, and superimposing the results over complete coverage of current political boundaries, we are able to provide a new register which lists 261 international rivers, covering 45.3% of the land surface of the earth (excluding Antarctica). This paper lists all international rivers with the ir watershed areas, the nations which share each watershed, their respective territorial percentages, and notes on changes in or disputes over international boundaries since 1978.


Asit K. Biswas, President, Third World Centre for Water Management, Member, World Commission on Water, Mexico

E-mail: akbiswas@cablevision.net.mx

Abstract: Global water demands are likely to increase steadily in the foreseeable future due to increases in population growth in the developing world and changes in percapita demand as a result of changing lifestyles in nearly all parts of the world. Since all exclusively national sources of water that could be used economically have already been developed, or are in the process of development , there would be tremendous pressure to develop international water bodies, which are often the only new sources of water that could be used cost-effectively. The se international water sources have not been developed in the past, primarily because of absence of agreements on water allocations between the countries concerned. Thus, the potential for conflicts in the 21st century between the countries on various international water bodies is likely to be much higher than at present. International organizations can play an important role as mediators in conflicts on international water bodies. However, except for Eugene Black, President of the World Bank, who played a critical role in the 1950s on the formulation of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, their contributions have been somewhat marginal. The se organizations have become increasingly risk-averse during the past three decades, and their leaderships have given the potentially thorny issue of development of international rivers a wide berth. In 1970, the United Nations decided to take up the case of the law of the non-navigable uses of international watercourses. Some 27 years later, the UN General Assembly approved, on 8 July 1997, a convention on this subject. The convention, though a use ful step, is very broad, general and vague, and thus is likely to be of only limited help to the negotiators on the various international watercourses. Even when the convention is ratied, agreements on the development and management of international water bodies are likely to be achieved only through protracted negotiations between the countries concerned, as has been the case in the past.


Mikiyasu Nakayamaa, Budhi Gunawanb, Tsuneaki Yoshidac and Takashi Asaedad

aUnited Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan; bInstitute of Ecology, Padjadjaran University, Indonesia; cGraduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, Japan; dGraduate School of Science and Engineering, University of Saitama 255 Simo-Ohkubo, Japan

Abstract: Forced population displacement caused by dam construction has been regarded as the most serious issue of water resources development. Nevertheless, the best practice is still not yet established. This paper aims to examine the performance of the involuntary resettlement scheme applied to the Cirata Dam project in Indone sia to obtain clues for improvement. Aquaculture development in the reservoir succeeded in creating new jobs for resettlers. Most resettlers ended up with less farmland than they had previously owing to the increase in land price. The land-for-land compensation scheme is preferable to cash compensation. Participation of resettlers in the planning and implementation of the resettlement scheme still had room for improvement. Some intermediate mechanism, between villagers and those implementing the resettlement scheme, should be devised. More careful and stream lined efforts should have been made as regards the secondary development of the project, so that those displaced could enjoy the benefits.


John Briscoe, Senior Water Advisor, The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA

Abstract: A companion paper in the previous issue of this journal (Briscoe, 1999) describes the changing face of infrastructure financing in developing countries. This paper deals with the financing of major infrastructure in the water-related sectors-hydropower, water supply and sanitation, irrigation, and overall water resources management (including the environment). The overall level of investment in water-related infrastructure in developing countries is estimated to be of the order of $65 billion annually, with the respective shares about $15 billion for hydro, $25 billion for water and sanitation and $25 billion for irrigation and drainage .About 90% of this investment comes from domestic sources, primarily from the public sector. Water-related infrastructure accounts for a large chunk-about 15%-of all government spending. This heavy dependence on the public sector means that the global ‘winds of change’ in the respective roles of government and the private sector have major implications for the financing and structure of the water economy. The paper describes how each of the ‘sub-sectors’ is adapting to the se winds of change. First, in recent years competition and private sector provision have emerged as the characteristics of the new electricity industry. This change poses a fundamental challenge to hydro which, to a much greater degree than thermal, has risks (hydrological, geological, social and environmental) which are better assumed by the public than the private sector. The future of private hydro, and thus of hydro itself, depends heavily on the ability of the public sector to both share risks with the private sector, and to provide predictable social and environmental rules of the game. Second, the urban water supply sector is in the early stage s of equally profound change. In recent years there has been a dramatic shift towards the private sector, in developed and developing countries alike. An outline of the future shape of a competitive urban water sector is emerging: it is one in which a growing number of private companies will compete with revitalized (and often corporatized) public utilities. Capital will, increasingly, come from the private capital markets, with the critical government role being that of light, transparent benchmarking and regulation. Third, the adaptation to the winds of change is least advanced in the public irrigation sector, which has long been characterized by public financing and ‘rent seeking’ by bureaucracies, politicians and private beneficiaries. It is only in recent years, and only in a few countries, that the irrigation sector has modernized. In the se cases irrigation has become like any other utility, in which accountable, autonomous agencies provide users with the services the users want. In many instances, farmers have become responsible for the costs of operating and maintaining the ir systems; in some instances they are responsible for meeting the full costs of replacement, rehabilitation and new investments. Where the se changes have taken place, there have not only been sharp swings in the relative proportion of private and public spending, but there have been dramatic improvements in the efficiency of investment and operation and, in most cases, major positive environmental impacts.


John J. Pigram, Centre for Water Policy Research, University of New England, Armidale, Australia

Abstract: The era of environmental concern ushered in by the World Conservation Strategy and the Brundtland Commission in the 1980s was given renewed impetus following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 and the adoption of Agenda 21. Water was a key resource singled out for attention and governments around the world have made a commitment to ecologically sustainable management of the resource. Australia is no exception and a number of processes are under way aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the country’s limited water endowment. In recent years the Australian water industry has increasingly come under criticism as the perceived source of widespread resource degradation and extensive impairment of rive rine environments. At the same time, growing demands for alternative uses of water have arisen for a wide range of environmental purposes. Addressing these criticisms and satisfying these demands have prompted moves for far-reaching adjustment to water allocation systems and a new approach to water management, a key component of which is the use of economic instruments to bring about change. Among measures introduced to improve water management are the encouragement of water markets and tradable water entitlements, and the rationalization of water pricing. These measures have had a mixed reception from water users, particularly in the irrigation sector, and have come under scrutiny with regard to their rationale and e ffectivene ss in promoting efficiency and equity in rural water use. The challenge remains to identify the most appropriatemix of incentive-based and regulatory mechanisms for the management of Australia’s water resources.


Herath M. Gunatilakeand Chennat Gopalakrishnanb

aDepartment of Agricultural Economics, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka; bDepartment of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Abstract: Benefits of water resource projects often fall short of original expectations owing to sedimentation of reservoirs. This study estimates the cost of reservoir sedimentation in Mahaweli reservoirs including impact on hydropower production, irrigation water supply, extra cost of water purification and loss of fisheries yields. The present value of the cost of sedimentation is estimated to be US$26 406 620. Of the different type s of costs, lost hydropower production is the most significant as it accounts for 66.6% of the total cost. The benefits of prevention of reservoir sedimentation alone are inadequate to compensate for the costs involved. Using soil erosion control measures at farm level offers a better solution for reservoir sedimentation compared with de-silting. Among the available erosion control me thods, stoned terrace is the least-cost solution to reservoir sedimentation.


Seung-Hoon Yooand Chang-Young Yangb

aTechno-Economics and Policy Program, College of Engineering, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea; bDivision of Economics and International Trade, Hoseo University, Republic of Korea

Abstract: The ‘twin water crises’ in terms of both quantity and quality clearly demand that researchers provide policy makers with available and responsible information regarding the role of water utility. This paper employs input-output (I-O) analysis to examine the role of water utility in the national economy, using a specific application to Korea. A static I-O framework is employed, focusing on three topics in its application: the impacts of water supply investments and the inter-industry linkage effect, the water supply shortage costs, and the impacts of the rise in water rates. In addition, potential uses of the results are illustrated from the perspective of policy instruments. The overall results indicate that water supply investment and water shortage have a big influence on the standard of living and industrial production, but raising water rates in order to encourage conservation or to create investment funds has a minor effect on general price levels.


Dennis Wichelns, Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, USA

Abstract: Irrigation water policies can be enhanced by conside ring the economic dimensions of farm-level decisions and public goals regarding limited land and water resources. The definitions of three efficiency terms used to describe the performance of irrigation systems-irrigation, water use and economic efficiency-are reviewed, with a focus on the unique role of economic efficiency in policy analysis. Policies that modify economic parameters can motivate farmers to choose crops and irrigation methods that are consistent with public goals. Such policies include water prices or allotments, subsidies for improving irrigation methods, and the removal of output price distortions that favour crops with large water requirements in water-short regions. An example of economic issues regarding water policy in the Nile Valley and Delta is included.


A.J. Adeloye, N.R. Nawaz and M. Montaseri, Department of Civil & Offshore Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, UK

Abstract: The majority of published studies on the impacts of climate change on reservoired water resources systems have concentrated on the influence of the climatechange-modified inflow series. However, for reservoirs the direct net evaporation (i.e. evaporation less rainfall) fluxes on the reservoir surface are also affected by climate change and, depending on the magnitude of the change, could have significant effects on the assessed impacts. In this study, we have performed reservoir storage-yield-reliability planning analyses on two multiple reservoir systems, one in England and the other in Iran, to investigate the possible effects of reservoir surface net evaporation flux for both baseline and climate-change conditions. The results showed that, under baseline conditions, consideration of net evaporation will require lower storages for the English systems and higher storages for the Iranian systems. The practical significance of this is that English systems analysed without conside ration of surface fluxes represent an over-de sign which can provide a buffer against future shortages, whereas the under-de-sign caused by ignoring surface fluxes in the Iranian systems will exacerbate the problem of such shortages. Perturbing the baseline inflow and climatological time-series data using a number of recently published climate-change scenarios produced different impacts at high and low yields for both systems. Possible explanations are offered for these impacts and suggestions are made for further studies.

Workshop on Challenges to Urban Water Management in Developing Countries, Stockholm Water Symposium, Stockholm, 11 August 1999

Workshop on Integrated River Basin Management in Latin America, Mexico City, 26-28 April 1999