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Planning for Environmental Water Allocations: An Example of Hydrology-based Assessment in the East Rapti River, Nepal

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Smakhtin, Vladimir; Shilpakar, Shilpakar
Date: 2005
Agency: International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Series: IWMI Research Report no. 89
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3919
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): allocation rules
water management
Abstract: "The protection of the aquatic environment is high on the world water resources agenda. Most developing countries, however, still lack the technical and institutional capacity to establish environmental water allocation practices and policies. The existing methods of assessment of environmental water allocations are either complex and resource-intensive (comprehensive holistic approaches) or not tailor made for the specific conditions of a particular country, region or basin (desktop methods). Detailed quantification of natural and present-day hydrology for such assessments in river basins in developing countries is also lacking. To promote emerging concepts of environmental flow assessment and management, it is important, among others, to change the dominating perception that environmental demand is the least important, create awareness among responsible authorities about the existing methodologies and processes that should be followed, and illustrate the applicability of these approaches through relevant case studies. "This report addresses these issues in the specific context of Nepal, where establishing a program of environmental water management is important to safeguard the beauty of the country and livelihoods of rural populations. The study uses the East Rapti River basin as an example. This basin includes one of the main tourist attractions in the country, the Royal Chitwan National Park. A hydrological simulation is first performed by a simplified data generation procedure, which works in data-poor regions. This is followed by the application of two hydrology-based environmental flow assessment techniques, the Tennant method and the Range of Variability Approach (RVA). The report also examines the possibility of using a more advanced hydrology-based method, the South African Desktop model. Some of these techniques are modified, following a discussion of their limitations. It is indicated that hydrologybased, desktop methods of environmental flow assessment represent a necessary first step in planning for environmental allocations in developing countries. It is shown that use can be made of complementary features of existing techniques to arrive at justified environmental water needs estimates even in conditions of limited, basin-specific, eco-hydrological knowledge."

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