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Water use in River Basins

Page history last edited by Tassilo Tiemann 14 years, 3 months ago

Water Use Accounting for the Basins of Mekong, Karkheh, Volta, Limpopo, Nile, Niger, Yellow River, Sao Francisco, Indus and Ganges

The Challenge Program on Water and Food undertakes research to maximize water productivity in several of the world’s major river basins. The research must be underpinned by information on how much water there is in a basin, where it goes and how it is used. There should, furthermore, be an understanding of future constraints (such as the impact of climate change), opportunities (such as increased diversions for irrigation), and trade-offs (such as changed land use improving dryland productivity but leaving less water for downstream use).

Through a series of 12 working papers (Water International, 2009), Mac Kirby from CSIRO and his collegues describe the underlying concepts of water use accounts that provide monthly estimates of major water uses in a river basin. They have used them for historical estimates, and for prediction. Starting with rainfall (and in some basins snow), the accounts track the partitioning of water into runoff, and evapotranspiration by dryland vegetation. The runoff is tracked as it becomes flow down the rivers, with losses (such as evaporation and seepage) and gains (such as tributary inflows), storages in lakes and reservoirs, diversion for irrigation or other purposes, floods in lowland floodplains, and finally discharges to the sea. The account estimates the water use by the major irrigation industries and other uses. The account helps develop understanding of the water uses in a basin, and the likely consequences of large changes, such as climate change, land-use change, increased diversions and irrigation water use, and changed storages.

The water use accounts are developed as Excel spreadsheets. They are a tool for integrated water-resources management, and provide a sound basis for integrating hydrology, environment, social and economic issues, and policy and institutional issues in a river basin.

The twelve papers in the Series Water-use Accounts in the CPWF Basins are listed below. These are currently in the final stages of publication as CPWF working papers. Cite the papers only wih permission. Pease contact Maya (maya.janamma@gmail.com) or Simon (s.cook@cgiar.org)


  1. Model concepts and description

  2. Simple water-use accounting of the Ganges Basin Notes_on_simple_water_accounting_of_the_Ganges_Basin_20090615_MF[1].pdf

  3. Simple water-use accounting of the Indus Basin Notes_on_simple_water_accounting_of_the_Indus_Basin_20090615_MF[1].pdf

  4. Simple water-use accounting of the Karkheh Basin Notes_on_simple_water_accounting_of_the_Karkheh_Basin_20090603_MF.pdf

  5. Simple water-use accounting of the Limpopo Basin Notes_on_simple_water_accounting_of_the_Limpopo_Basin_20090603_MF.pdf

  6. Simple water-use accounting of the Mekong Basin Notes_on_water_use_accounting_of_Mekong_Basin_20090526_MF.pdf

  7. Simple water-use accounting of the Niger Basin

  8. Simple water-use accounting of the Nile Basin

  9. Simple water-use accounting of the São Francisco Basin Notes_on_simple_water_accounting_of_the_Sao_Francisco_Basin_20090714_MF[1].pdf

  10. Simple water-use accounting of the Volta Basin Notes_on_simple_water_accounting_of_the_Volta_Basin_20090603_MF.pdf

  11. Simple water-use accounting of the Yellow River Basin

  12. Spreadsheet description and use

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