What is Water Resources Management?

Water resource management refers to the approach towards planning, distributing and managing the used water. Currently, the majority of the world are placing so much pressure on a water resource. The global population is growing at an alarming rate. based on the current water demand,  the global community faces a 40% shortfall between forecast in demand and availability of the supplies of water resources by the year 2030. Immedicable shortage of water, hydrological unreliability and extreme climate variability are perceived as the greatest threats to the world’s stability and success. Climate change will eventually worsen the condition by changing hydrological cycles, making water resources more uncertain and increasing the prevalence and strength of floods and water. The robustness of sustainable water resources management will significantly reduce the backend of growing demand, water shortage, growing unpredictability, more significant climate extremes and overall challenges.

Challenges to Sustainable Water Resource Management

The top three challenges to achieving sustainable water resources management are; pollution, deforestation, and climate change.

1. Pollution

Nearly all the water resources in seas, ocea8ns, lakes and rivers have been polluted by humans. Activities such as dumping of wastes, spillage of oil on the ocean flow, disposal of industrial wastes to the rivers and lakes cause immense damage to the planet’s scarce resources. There is a constant conflict between water resource management and environmental management, especially when it comes to waste disposal. People always desire a clean environment, and a convenient way to dispose of their waste are usually water bodies or bare lands – in terms of no human lives nearby. Whether the waste contains soluble substances that can be taken into surface water by surface runoff or infiltrated into groundwater by recharge water is ignored or avoided in most cases. Even when a landfill is developed, there are no major hydrogeological considerations in most cases.

Besides, regulatory complexity and planning are to blame. Most countries face complicated policies and regulatory land regarding the management of water resources. However, if proper water management is not implemented in the near future, a major drift is developing, and soon, a conflict driven by water quality will be realized.

2. Climate Change

Nature partakes in water resources management by replenishing through groundwater levels, precipitation and surface runoff. However, climate change poses a greater challenge towards sustainable water resources management. Climate change reports around the world indicate increasing temperatures and reduced precipitation. These two aspects have direct impacts on our water resources as they are part of the hydrological cycle. Reduced rainfall leads to decreased surface water flow –  a direct impact of climate change on water resources. An indirect climate change impact is on reduced groundwater recharge, especially to shallow aquifers. Evaporation may also alter the water quality in these shallow systems by increasing salinity. In arid regions where perennial rivers mainly recharge shallow aquifers, recharge is significantly reduced by reducing river flows. Without adequate monitoring, however, climate impacts on water resources are difficult to establish. Thus, hindering sustainable water resources management.

 

3. Deforestation and Encroachment

Deforestation and the inability of governments to control the rate at which humans encroach into water catchment areas is another great challenge to sustainable water resources management. Through planting more trees and implementing policies that guide tree harvesting will act as a control measure to reducing the high rate of water reduction in the world. The challenge, however, will always be whether the future generations will access clean and safe freshwater. People require water resources fresh water for drinking, domestic, irrigation and livestock drinking. Therefore, it is apparent that humanity has to choose now to safeguard and play a vital role in managing the available water resources. Likewise, deforestation brings about considerable effects to the environment and speeds up climate change. Eventually, the water resources on our planet become insufficient and ultimately get extinct. Therefore, humanity needs to realize the ultimate protection of water as an indispensable resource.

With the above three challenges notwithstanding, water being a shared resource in most cases, a collaborative approach between governments, stakeholders, communities and individuals is necessary.  Thus, the birth of integrated water resource management in recent years.

 

sustainable water resources management
                                                                                                                                                 Source: gwp.org

 

Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRA)

IWRM is a framework for improving water resource management based on four key principles established at the 1992 Dublin Conference on Water and the Rio de Janeiro Summit on Sustainable Development. These principles hold that:

    1. Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource that is necessary to sustain life, development, and the environment;
    2. Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners, and policymakers at all levels;
    3. Women play an important role in water provision, management, and safeguarding; and
    4. Water has an economic value.

IWRM Approaches For Sustainable Water Resources Management?

Suitably, the establishment of Integrated Water Resource Management is basically basin or watershed planning. It entails a process that promotes coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources to reduce economic and social welfare in a balanced manner without jeopardizing the sustainability of the vital ecosystem. An IWRA process involves best practices of making decisions while taking necessary actions and considering multiple or more viewpoints on the management of water resources. The decisions and actions can be related to the following situations: river basin planning, planning of task forces, planning of new capital facilities, control of reservoirs releases, regulating flood plains, and coming up with new policies and regulations. Integrated water resource management consists of five components, water resource management, purpose and services, the discipline of knowledge, governments and interested groups and stakeholder groups.

A comprehensive IWRM includes integrating land and water, upstream and down streams, groundwater, surface water and coastal resources. Since water management is very complex and involves many actors and contributors,  knowledgeable at different levels. The achievement of management plans in such contexts is dependent on their ability to accommodate cooperation between the actors and integration between different sources of knowledge. Therefore the flow of data between actors. Fusing knowledge from different disciplines like engineering, law, finance, economics, politics, history, sociology, life science, psychology, mathematics, environment, natural resources, and other fields establishes necessary possibilities, decisions and actions.