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Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) – Part 1

Column by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong 9/18/12

 IWRM was born out of The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development created at the International Conference on Water and the Environment held in Ireland in 1992. The statement had two sections that promoted “integrated management:” (1) “Protecting aquatic ecosystems -Integrated management of river basins provides the opportunity to safeguard aquatic ecosystems, and make their benefits available to society on a sustainable basis”; and (2)”Resolving water conflicts -…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.”

The Dublin Statement was prepared for the “Earth Summit” or United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also held in 1992. “Integrated Water Resources Management” was featured in Chapter 18 of Agenda 21, an international document signed for the United States by President George H.W.Bush.

 http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/ Agenda 21  recommended that all states “…adopt an integrated approach to environmentally sustainable management of water resources, including the protection of aquatic ecosystems and freshwater living resources.” It gave a target of the year 2000 for all states “to have designed and initiated costed and targeted national action programmes, and to have put in place appropriate institutional structures and legal instruments.” In 1997, the U.N. General Assembly Adopted the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 stating that there is an urgent need: (a) “To assign high priority… to the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for integrated watershed management, including issues related to pollution and waste, the interrelationship between water and land, including mountains, forests, upstream and downstream users, estuarine environments, biodiversity and the preservation of aquatic ecosystems, wetlands, climate and land degradation and desertification, recognizing that subnational, national and regional approaches to fresh-water protection and consumption following a watershed basin or river basin approach offer a useful model for the protection of fresh-water supplies.”

According to the Global Water Partnership (GWP, ) “IWRM is defined as a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.” Under IWRM, water needed for ecosystem functioning and to meet basic human needs has priority above all other water uses. Only water resources in excess of these basic needs is “available” for allocation to other uses. http://www.gwptoolbox.org/ 

IWRM is implemented through a national water resources policy which sets goals and objectives for the management of water resources at the national and regional scales. Policies include the integration of water and land use law and the holistic management and allocation of resources across entire basins. River Basin Organizations (RBOs) established by authorities provide input for “basin-wide planning to balance all user needs for water resources.” Shared Vision Planning is a process used to engage broad stakeholder participation in water planning and operating decisions. http://www.sharedvisionplanning.us/resCase.cfm 

IWRM was introduced in the United States on the federal level by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,) the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM,) the International Hydrological Programme (IHP,) the Global Water Partnership and The Nature Conservancy. http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/ 

Early this year, the Council on Environmental Quality’s Interagency Climate Change Adaption Task Force, with input from USACE, released the final “National Action Plan (NAP): Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate “ which was based on IWRM. The goal of the NAP is that “Government agencies and citizens collaboratively manage freshwater resources in response to a changing climate in order to ensure adequate water supplies, to safeguard human life, health and property, and to protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems.” Action 17 of NAP is to: “Work with States and interstate bodies (e.g., River Basin Commissions) to incorporate IWRM into planning and programs, paying particular attention to climate change adaptation issues.”

The CAWWG (Federal Climate Change and Water Working Group) consists of USACE, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS,) and the Bureau of Reclamation. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/ccawwg/  This is supported by Landscape Conservation Cooperatives – “a network of public-private partnerships that provide shared science to ensure the sustainability of America's land, water, wildlife and cultural resources.” http://www.doi.gov/lcc/index.cfm  and Climate Science Centers. http://www.doi.gov/csc/index.cfm  The western states also have the Western States Water Council (WSWC) http://www.westgov.org/wswc/  supported by the Western States Federal Agency Support Team (WestFAST) http://www.westgov.org/wswc/WestFAST.htm 

In the Klamath Basin, the federal Dept. of Interior - Bureau of Reclamation is implementing IWRM through the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/docs/Basin%20Study%20Framework_022211.pdf  This scheme is being implemented under the Secure Water Act as planning for the impact of Climate Change.

General information on IWRM can be found at http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/IWRM%20global%20Part2.htm



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