INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT (IWRM) - AN INTRODUCTION
KASBOHM1, S. GROTHE2,
NGUYỄN THỊ HỒNG 5, LÊ THỊ KIM OANH5, NGHIÊM QUỲNH HƯƠNG5
1geoEncon Ltd., Greifswald, Germany;2University of Greifswald, Institute of Geography and Geology, Greifswald, Germany; 3Institute of Geological Sciences (VAST), Hà Nội; 4People’s Committee of Nam Định Province, Dept of Science and Technology, Nam Định; 5University of Greifswald, Institute of Geography and Geology, Greifswald, Germany as well as Hà Nội University of Sciences (VNU), Hà Nội.
water resources management (IWRM) is based on the four
World Bank et al.  estimate that theoretically, Việt
Water consumption has grown at more than twice the rate of the population for the past century. Although there is not yet a global water shortage, about 2.8 billion people, representing more than 40 % of the world’s population, live in river basins with some form of water scarcity. More than 1.2 billion of them live under conditions of physical water scarcity, which occurs when more than 75 % of the river flows are withdrawn .
The work  highlights that challenges faced by more and more countries in their struggle for economic and social development are increasingly related to water. Water shortages, quality deterioration and flood impacts are among the problems, which require greater attention and action. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process, which can assist countries in their endeavour to deal with water issues in a cost-effective and sustainable way.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced in March 2006 that it would
use its Water Financing Program 2006-2010 to help its member countries to
introduce IWRM in 25 river basins in the Asia-Pacific region. ADB considered
II. THE EMERGENCE OF INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
The International Conference on Water and the Environment held in
Since water sustains life, effective management of water resources demands a holistic approach, linking social and economic development with protection of natural ecosystems. Effective management links land and water uses across the whole of a catchment area or groundwater aquifer.
1 Projects, ADB, retrieved 2 April 2009,
The participatory approach involves raising awareness of the importance of water among policy-makers and the general public. It means that decisions are taken at the lowest appropriate level, with full public consultation and involvement of users in the planning and implementation of water projects.
This pivotal role of women as providers and users of water and guardians of the living environment has seldom been reflected in institutional arrangements for the development and management of water resources. Acceptance and implementation of this principle requires positive policies to address women’s specific needs and to equip and empower women to participate at all levels in water resources programs, including decision-making and implementation, in ways defined by them.
Within this principle, it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.
Since the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development
The three key objectives for national integrated water management are
priority for satisfying basic human and ecosystem requirements, the river basin
as basis for managing water resources and preparation of national action and
sustainable water use programs by 2000 . The term IWRM was to imply “an
inter-sectoral approach, representation of all stakeholders, all physical
aspects of water resources, and sustainability and environmental
considerations” . Since the 1990s IWRM has been promoted worldwide by the
Global Water Partnership [18, p. 1335]. According to information given on its
website, the Global Water Partnership (GWP) was founded by World Bank, United
Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Swedish International Development
Agency (SIDA) in
19963. It is a network used by government institutions, UN
agencies, development banks, professional associations, research institutions,
NGOs, and the private sector. Financial support is provided by European and
North American governments (e.g.
In order to support the worldwide process of IWRM implementation the GWP provides a toolbox4. The design of the toolbox is set up in three main modules:
1. Enabling environment (government legislation, policies, and rules);
3“A Water Secure World Global”, Water Partnership, AboutUs, 2008, retrieved 9 March 2009,
4 ToolBox Integrated Water Resources Management, Global Water Partnership, 2008, retrieved 9 March
2. Institutional roles (policies and programs of organizations);
3. Management instruments (direct action).
This concept considers a widely accepted theory whereby decision-making occurs at three different institutional levels. It was developed by  on the basis of an earlier work of OSTROM (1986). Institutional settings are described at: 1. Policy, 2. Implementation, and 3. Operational levels .
Furthermore, the GWP (2000) has established a definition according to which integrated water resources management is: “A process which 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”.
For [4, p.
2] the IWRM definition by GWP consolidates two broad conceptual bases, namely,
“integration” and “sustainability”. Integration is one of the interpretations
of the holistic approach. The holistic approach is desired for water resource
management, because of a high number of interrelationships between water
resources and land based activities. The integrative interpretation emerged in
the mid-1980s and focuses on key variables and relationships that significantly
contribute to variation in a system and therefore should be managed [18, p.
1337]. Two concepts characterize the term “sustainability”. One concept of ‘sustainable
resources development’ considers an intergeneration fairness (i.e. fairness
between successive generations). It announces that sustainable development “implies meeting the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
. Another concept is the concept of intra-generation fairness (i.e. fairness
within a generation) with the triangle – key elements “Ecology – Economy –
Social Justice” formulated during the United Nations Conference of Environment
and Development (UNCED) in
III. IWRM – THE NATURAL AND HUMAN SYSTEM INTERACTION (GWP, 2000)
A central challenge of IWRM is to organize water management within physical-ecologic borders of river basins or catchment areas. Consequently political thinking and action have to take place in a new spatial context as a landscape unit is declared as an area of political action. This new spatial policy is contradictory to previous national water management policies that were traditionally aligned with territorial administrative borders, mainly based on hierarchical steering.
In frame to organize water management within borders of river basins or catchment areas GWP (2000) describes in detail the main fields of integration.
1. Natural system integration
1.1. Integration of Freshwater Management and Coastal Zone Management: Freshwater management and coastal zone management should be integrated. Freshwater systems are important determinants of conditions in the coastal zone and hence freshwater managers should consider the requirements of the coastal zone when managing water resources.
1.2. Integration of Land and Water Management: An integrated approach to the management of land and water takes as its departure the hydrological cycle transporting water between the compartments air, soil, vegetations, surface and groundwater sources. As a result, land use developments and vegetation cover (including crop selection) influence the physical distribution and quality of water and must be considered in the overall planning and management of the water resources.
Another aspect is the fact that water is a key determinant of the character and health of all ecosystems (terrestrial as well as aquatic), and their water quantity and quality requirements therefore have to be taken into account in the overall allocation of available water resources. The promotion of catchment and river basin management is an acknowledgement that these are logical planning units for IWRM from a natural system perspective.
1.3. “Green Water” and “Blue Water”: A conceptual distinction can be made between water that is used directly for biomass production and “lost” in evapotranspiration (“green water”) and water flowing in rivers and aquifers (“blue water”). Terrestrial ecosystems are “green water” dependent, whereas aquatic ecosystems are “blue water” dependent. Most water management, including the literature on IWRM, tends to focus on the “blue water”, thus neglecting rain and soil water management.
Management of “green water” flows holds significant potential for water savings (crop per evaporated drop in rain fed and irrigated agriculture), increasing water use efficiency and the protection of vital ecosystems.
1.4. Integration of Surface Water and Groundwater Management: The hydrological cycle also calls for integration between surface and groundwater management. The drop of water retained at the surface of a catchment may appear alternately as surface- and groundwater on its way downstream through the catchment. The widespread use of agro-chemicals and pollution from other non-point sources already pose significant threats to groundwater quality and force managers to consider the linkages between surface- and groundwater.
1.5. Integration of Quantity and Quality in Water Resources Management: Water resources management entails the development of appropriate quantities of water with an adequate quality. Water quality management is thus an essential component of IWRM. Clearly, institutions capable of integrating the quantity and quality aspects have to be promoted to influence the way human systems operate in generating, abating and disposing of waste products.
1.6. Integration of Upstream and Downstream Water-related Interests: An integrated approach to water resources management entails identification of conflicts of interest between upstream and downstream stakeholders. The consumptive “losses” upstream will reduce river flows. The pollution loads discharged upstream will degrade river water quality. Land use changes upstream may alter groundwater recharge and river flow seasonality. Flood control measures upstream may threaten flood-dependent livelihoods downstream. Such conflicts of interest must be considered in IWRM with full acknowledgement of the range of physical and social linkages that exist in complex systems.
2. Human system integration
2.1. Mainstreaming of Water Resources: When it comes to analyzing human activities or service systems, virtually all aspects of integration involve an understanding of the natural system, its capacity, vulnerability and limits. Such integration is inevitably a complex task and perfect integration is unrealistic. It involves three subtopics (i.e. providing fora and mechanisms to ensure that all stakeholders can participate in water resource allocation decisions, conflict resolution and trade-off choices).
Integrative measures are needed at all levels from the individual household to international product markets.
2.2. Cross-Sectoral Integration in National Policy Development: The IWRM approach implies that water-related developments within all economic and social sectors should be taken into account in the overall management of the water resources. Thus, water resources policy must be integrated with national economic policy, as well as with national sectoral policies. Conversely, economic and social policies need to take account of the water resource implications, for instance, national energy and food policies may have a profound impact on water resources - and vice versa. Cross-sectoral integration is divided in following sub-sectors: i) water for people; ii) water for food; iii) water for nature; and iv) water for industry and other uses.
2.3. Macro-Economic Effects of Water Developments: In situations where large amounts of capital are mobilized for water sector investments the macro-economic impacts are often quite large and deleterious to overall economic development. The increased demand for goods and services in the non-water sectors caused by the capital inflows raises their prices and thus leads to inflation. This has often induced long-term macro-economic effects that are far from desirable.
2.4. Basic Principles for Integrated Policy-Making: Cross-sectoral and “integrated” policy-making is extremely hard to achieve in practice but there are five basic principles with focus to economic planners, land use policy-makers and other water-related policies.
2.5. Influencing Economic Sector Decisions: The decisions of economic sector actors (from trans-national or large state-owned companies to individual farmers or households) will in most countries have significant impact on water demands, water-related risks and the availability and quality of the resource. These decisions will not be water sensitive unless clear and consistent information is available on the full costs of their actions.
2.6. Integration of all Stakeholders in the Planning and Decision Process: The involvement of the concerned stakeholders in the management and planning of water resources is universally recognized as a key element in obtaining a balanced and sustainable utilization of water.
2.7. Integrating Water and Wastewater Management: Water is a renewable and reusable resource. Where use is non-consumptive and returned after use, mechanisms are needed to ensure that wastewater flows are a useful addition to resource flows or water supply. Reuse of water can be provided to individual users but to be effective reuse opportunities have to be designed into the political, economic, social and administrative systems.
5 European Environmental Agency - Environmental Terminology and Discovery Service (ETDS), retrieved 26 August 2009, <http://glossary.eea.europa.eu/EEAGlossary/D/DPSIR>
IV. THE DRIVING FORCES - PRESSURE - STATE - IMPACTS - RESPONSE (DPSIR) ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK: AN EXAMPLE
Most environmental reports compile sets of physical, biological or chemical indicators. They generally reflect a systems analysis view of the relations between the environmental system and the human system. For any communication with stakeholder, it is recommended to classify all these data and the kind of reports. Environmental indicators may be used as a powerful tool to raise public awareness on environmental issues (Fig. 1). Providing information on driving forces, impacts and policy responses, is a common strategy to strengthen public support for policy measures . The European Environment Agency has introduced for that in 1999 the DPSIR framework assessment for reporting on environmental issues .
DPSIR-framework “The causal framework for describing the interactions between society and the environment adopted by the European Environment Agency: driving forces, pressures, states, impacts, responses (extension of the PSR model developed by OECD)”. European Environmental Agency (EEA)5.
Figure 1. The DPSIR framework for reporting on environmental issues (Smeets & Weterings, 1999)
According to this systems analysis view, social and economic developments exert Pressure (P) on the environment and, as a consequence, the State (S) of the environment changes, such as the provision of adequate conditions for health, resources availability and biodiversity. Finally, this leads to Impacts (I) on human health, ecosystems and materials that may elicit a societal Response (R) that feeds back on the Driving forces (D), or on the state or impacts directly, through adaptation or curative action.
In order to demonstrate this DPSIR-framework it is recommended to
follow an example like  have published it. They report about eutrophication
of marine and coastal environment in
The work  defined agriculture, industry, traffic, water treatment plants etc. as Driving forces. These mentioned elements are responsible for substantial loads of nutrients in the environment. For instance use of fertilizer and manure in agriculture and effluents from communal and industrial wastewater treatment plants contribute to the emission of nutrients in a river basin. Traffic and energy production also contributes by emitting nitrous oxides to the atmosphere. They identified direct discharges, riverine inputs (average river concentrations of nutrients) and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen as Pressure. The nutrient concentrations (e.g. sum of NO3, NO2 and NH4; phosphate) and the molar ratios of nutrients (e.g. N/P ratio) are useable to characterize the Status. In European coastal waters nutrients in the summer period are used for primary production, resulting in a decrease of the nutrient concentrations. For this reason, the winter period is preferred to use for indicator purposes. Algal blooms, toxic mussels and oxygen depletion are typical indicators to describe the Impacts. There is large natural annual phytoplankton variability, but intensity of phytoplankton blooms, including those of toxic algae, may be a general indicator of primary production increase. The increased production and sedimentation of plant biomass may also lead to increased oxygen consumption in the deep soft-bottom areas affecting benthic communities. As Responses to Impacts they recommend to limit human consumption of toxic mussels and as Responses to Driving forces they demand an emission abatement (end of pipe treatment).
V. THE WATER
SITUATION IN VIỆT
Typically, the discussion to IWRM-activities is linked commonly with a focus
to water scarcity. But also the availability of a certain water quality is a
part of IWRM-related investigations. This aspect may is mainly to consider for
Việt Nam has 10 major river basins (> 10,000 km²) that are
dominated by the catchment areas of the Red River in the north and the Mekong
River in the south [19, p. viii)]. Red River and Mekong basins alone carry 75%
of the annual runoff. Theoretically, Việt
The total mean annual runoff is 830 BCM (billions of cubic metres).
Nearly 57% is discharged in the Mekong basin, more than 16% in the Red -
The country’s total groundwater reserves amount to estimated 48 BCM,
with annual exploitable groundwater at about 6-7 BCM. In the 1990s the annual
withdrawals was less than 1 BCM. However the largest and growing municipalities
Hồ Chí Minh City and Hà Nội rely primarily on groundwater. In Việt
With a local view the estimation of surface water situation by World
Bank is to find again e.g. in . They describe that in Việt
The work  offer a detailed overview to the six hydrogeological
groundwater regions in Việt
Some recent local water-related developments in the context of
environmental, economic and social state are described by  as well as 
for industrial activities in rural areas.  as well as  visualize the
mirroring of socio-geographical conditions in typical water consumption
behavior in rural areas of North Việt
VI. THE ADB-STRATEGY FOR INTRODUCING IWRM IN RIVER BASINS: 25 IMPORTANT ELEMENTS
 has mainstreamed IWRM principles into water projects in several
countries in South and Southeast Asia and on a region wide scale in
1. River basin organization: Build capacity in new or existing RBO, focusing on the four dimensions of performance (stakeholders, internal business processes, learning and growth, and finance) under the Network of Asian River Basin Organization’s (NARBO) benchmarking service.
2. Stakeholder participation: Institutionalize stakeholder participation in the river basin planning and management process including active participation of local governments, civil society organizations (academe, NGOs, parliamentarians, media), and the private sector, and an enabling framework for meaningful stakeholder participation in project specific planning decisions.
3. River basin planning: Prepare or update a comprehensive river basin plan or strategy, with participation and ownership of basin stakeholders, and application of IWRM principles in land use planning processes.
4. Public awareness: Introduce or expand public awareness programs for IWRM in collaboration with civil society organizations and the media.
5. Water allocation: Reduce water allocation conflicts among uses and geographical areas in the basin with participatory and negotiated approaches, incorporating indigenous knowledge and practices.
6. Water rights: Introduce effective water rights or entitlements administration that respects traditional or customary water use rights of local communities and farmers and farmer organizations.
7. Wastewater permits: Introduce or improve wastewater discharge permits and effluent charges to implement the polluter pays principle.
8. IWRM financing: Institutionalize models whereby all levels of government contribute budget to IWRM in the basin.
9. Economic instruments: Introduce raw water pricing and/or other economic instruments to share in IWRM costs, stimulate water demand management and conservation, protect the environment and pay for environmental services.
10. Regulations: Support the development and implementation of a legal and regulatory framework to implement the principles of IWRM and its financing in the basin, including tariffs, charges, quality standards and delivery mechanisms for water services.
11. Infrastructure for multiple benefits: Develop and/or manage water resources infrastructure to provide multiple benefits (such as hydropower, water supply, irrigation, flood management, salinity intrusion, and ecosystems maintenance).
12. Private sector contribution: Introduce or increase private sector participation in IWRM through corporate social responsibility (CSR)-type contributions.
13. Water education: Introduce IWRM into school programs to increase water knowledge and develop leadership among the youth, including responsibility for water monitoring in local water bodies.
14. Watershed management: Invest to protect and rehabilitate upper watersheds in collaboration with local communities and civil society organizations.
15. Environmental flows: Introduce a policy and implementation framework for introducing environmental flows and demonstrate its application.
16. Disaster management: Investments in combined structural and nonstructural interventions to reduce vulnerability against floods, droughts, chemical spills and other disasters in the basin.
17. Flood forecasting: Introduce or strengthen effective flood forecasting and warning systems.
18. Flood damage rehabilitation: Investments in the rehabilitation of infrastructure after floods.
19. Water quality monitoring: Initiate or strengthen basin-wide water quality monitoring and application of standards.
20. Water quality improvement: Invest in structural and nonstructural interventions that reduce point and non-point water pollution.
21. Wetland conservation: Invest to conserve and improve wetlands as integral part of the river basin ecosystems.
22. Fisheries: Introduce measures to protect and improve fisheries in the river.
23. Groundwater management: Institutionalize and strengthen sustainable groundwater management as part of IWRM.
24. Water conservation: Institutionalize a policy and implementation framework to promote efficiency of water use, conservation, and recycling.
25. Decision support information: Improve on-line publicly available river basin information systems to support IWRM policy, planning, and decision-making, including dissemination of “tool boxes” and good practices.
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