A new framework for integrated, holistic, and transparent evaluation of inter-basin water transfer schemes

Sinha, Pammi, Rollason, Ed, Bracken, Louise J., Wainwright, John and Reaney, Sim M. (2020) A new framework for integrated, holistic, and transparent evaluation of inter-basin water transfer schemes. Science of the Total Environment, 721. p. 137646. ISSN 0048-9697

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137646


Water shortages are forecast to affect 50% of the world's population by 2030, impacting developing nations most acutely. To increase water security there has been a significant increase in Inter-basin Water Transfer (IBWT) schemes, engineering mega-projects that redistribute water from one basin to another. However, the implementation of these schemes is often contested, and evaluation of their complex impacts inadequate, or hidden from full public scrutiny. There is an urgent need to develop more integrated, holistic, and transparent ways of evaluating the multiple interlinking impacts of IBWT schemes of this scale. In this paper, we address this gap by outlining an experimental methodology to evaluate IBWT schemes using a multidisciplinary and transparent methodology which utilises publicly available data. We illustrate the method using a case study from the Inter-Linking Rivers Project in Northern India, comparing the results of the experimental approach against the official analysis of the proposed scheme produced by the State Government of Jharkhand. The results demonstrate that the proposed experimental method allows more detailed evaluation of spatial and temporal variability in water availability and demand, as well as holistic evaluation of the functioning of the proposed scheme under different future scenarios. Based on these results we propose a flexible framework for future evaluation of proposed water transfer schemes which embeds the principles of integrated assessment, transparency, and sound science which can be adapted to other IBWT projects across the world.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The research presented in this paper was funded by a Durham Doctoral Scholarship. PS would like to thank Durham University for providing the funding to support this research through a Durham Doctoral Studentship; The Water Resource Department, Govt. of Jharkhand for providing access to the pre-feasibility reports of Sankh-South Koel and South Koel-Subarnarekha water transfer links; Mr. Oliver Priestley-Leach, OPL Environmental Ltd., Sedgefield, UK for his guidance during the WEAP modelling; and Dr. Patrice Carbonneau, Department of Geography, Durham University for providing the rainfall datasets. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Dr. Sarah Woodroffe who provided invaluable comments on early drafts of the manuscript. We would also like to thank the extremely supportive and constructive comments provided by two anonymous reviewers, whose input has significantly enhanced the revised manuscript.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Integrated water resources management, Inter-basin water transfer, Water resource modelling, Water scarcity
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
H200 Civil Engineering
K400 Planning (Urban, Rural and Regional)
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2021 12:16
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2022 14:15
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47222

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