Water is a vital part of the environment and a home for many forms of life on which the well-being of humans ultimately depends. Disruption of flows has reduced the productivity of many such ecosystems, devastated fisheries, agriculture and grazing, and marginalized the rural communities which rely on these.
Various kinds of pollution, including transboundary pollution, exacerbate these problems, degrade water supplies, require more expensive water treatment, destroy aquatic fauna, and deny recreation opportunities.
Integrated management of river basins provides the opportunity to safeguard aquatic ecosystems, and make their benefits available to society on a sustainable basis.
Developing Mechanism for Resolving Water Conflicts
The most appropriate geographical entity for the planning and management of water resources is the river basin, including surface and groundwater. Ideally, the effective integrated planning and development of transboundary river or lake basins has similar institutional requirements to a basin entirely within one country.
The essential function of existing international basin organizations is one of reconciling and harmonizing the interests of riparian countries, monitoring water quantity and quality, development of concerted action programmes, exchange of information, and enforcing agreements.
In the coming years, it is expected that management of both, national and international watersheds will greatly increase in importance. A high priority should therefore be given to the preparation and implementation of integrated management plans, endorsed by all affected governments and backed by international agreements.
Managing Trans-Boundary River Basins
Trans-boundary disputes will be expected to emerge as water becomes scarce thus, increasing source of risk in the future, with conflicts over water.
Where rivers, lakes, aquifers cross national boundaries trans- boundary agreements for water allocation and sharing need to be enshrined between countries within international treaties.
Read Also: Guide to Proper Water Resource Management
We require well-trained and qualified personnel. We should identify, as part of national development plans, training needs for water-resources assessment and management, and take steps internally and, if necessary with technical co-operation agencies, to provide the required training, and working conditions which help to retain the trained personnel.
Governments at both national and state level must also assess their capacity to equip their water experts and other specialists to implement the full range of activities for integrated water-resources management.
This requires provision of an enabling environment in terms of institutional and legal arrangements, including those for effective water- demand management.
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