Australia takes its water management expertise to Asia

Monday, 08 July, 2013

CSIRO scientists are applying their knowledge in trans-boundary river basin management to improve the livelihoods of people living in some of the poorest parts of Asia. CSIRO and its partners have begun work in the Koshi River Basin, which stretches from China, across the Himalayas through Nepal and discharges into the Ganges River in India - a home to millions of people who rely on its fertile floodplains for their livelihoods.

Image by Santosh Nepal.

There is growing pressure to address development challenges in the basin, in particular population growth and an increasing demand for energy, while working within constraints of natural hazards exacerbated by a changing climate, such as floods, drought, landslides, sediment movement and debris flow.

In a collaborative four-year project funded by AusAID, scientists from CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship will provide technical assistance to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development’s (ICIMOD) Koshi Basin Programme. CSIRO scientists will develop an integrated basin-wide modelling system to improve management of the Koshi River Basin.

The system will incorporate information on water availability, freshwater environments and the ecosystem services they provide and social considerations such as the effect of changes in water availability on livelihoods. It will contribute to development in the Koshi Basin in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner and support national and trans-boundary water reforms.


Images by Nabin Baral, ICIMOD.

The programme coordinator for the Koshi Basin Programme, Dr Wahid, admits “The knowledge base for in the Koshi Basin has been very poor. We know that things are changing when we go in the upstream, take for example the cryospheric dynamics of the river systems, and when we try to gather information from these very high mountains and very harsh places, it’s often been very sketchy, and that’s where we stumble all the time.”

That’s where CSIRO comes in, with the leader of the organisation’s Integrated Basin Modelling Stream, Geoff Podger, saying CSIRO will “take things that happen up in the mountains … and translate those impacts down through the system and have a look at what that does to the others”, offering,  “the ability to move away from perceptions about what happens, and actually put some science and facts behind what the impacts of these things could be”.

CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship director, Dr Carol Couch, noted, “Australia has a long history of managing a scarce and variable water resource, and sharing this resource amongst competing users.

“There is much the Australian water experience will bring to this project to help improve sustainable development and climate resilience, reduce water stress and inform water-related decision-making and trans-boundary issues. We will draw on the suite of large river basin assessments undertaken across Australia in recent years.”

CSIRO will learn from ICIMOD along the way, particularly in relation to sediment movement, snow melt and glacial processes. ICIMOD Director General Dr David Molden said the centre’s approach to river management “includes testing, piloting and monitoring the innovations needed to address common issues related to climate change, cryosphere, water resources management and livelihood promotion”. It will provide a platform for trans-boundary cooperation and integrated water resource management practices and policies.

CSIRO’s work this year will include a review and analysis of the existing knowledge base, capacity building and the development of a prototype model for the Koshi River Basin that incorporates information on water, climate, hydropower, freshwater environments, irrigation and social issues including poverty alleviation. The knowledge gained from this project will culminate in the development of a robust integrated basin-wide modelling framework using eWater’s hydrological modelling platform, Source.

Related Articles

Remote control for water and wastewater in Hawke's Bay, NZ  

Ovarro's Kingfisher CP-35 remote RTUs were chosen by Hastings District Council and Napier...

Thirsty emus look to smart solar for their daily drink

A solar-powered irrigation project has been designed to help ensure the sustainability and...

Strategic priorities for Australia's water utilities in 2024

Facing a rapidly growing population and long-term climate change, Australia's water utilities...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd