TWINBASINXN: Promoting Twinning of River Basins for Developing Integrated Water Resources Management Practices


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The main objective of TwinBasin is to support effective use of research and development in the field of IWRM by promoting twinning of BO. This will be achieved by creating a world-wide forum dedicated to identifying and sharing knowledge and best practices, as well as staff exchanges for in-depth know-how transfer.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) takes the form of a co-operation framework signed by a wide range of organizations, both public and private, which have an interest in the deployment of IWRM practices through twinning of organizations. It is a voluntary agreement, entered into by organizations, prepared to be active participants in developing consensus on issues of common interest, and who are willing to commit both human and financial resources for this purpose, by participating in the operation of Specific Interest Groups (SIGs).

This MoU implies public commitments from signatories, from which: to co-operate in the production of recommendations and guidelines for developing twinning and related services of twinning activities (exchange of information, exchange of personnel) and of common knowledge representation systems and dissemination practices.

The project will support staff mobility between twinned BO for enhancing peer-to-peer exchanges and hands-on periods (0,5 to 2 months).

Definition of Mobility:

According to the project rules, mobility will concern missions of Basin Organizations (BO) staff members for developing exchanges of capacities and competences. Mobility activities should avoid short missions and missions aiming to formalize and ratify agreements of twinning and partnership between Basin Organizations. The objectives and consequently the outcomes of the exchanges of personnel have to be clearly identified and related to the improvement of capacities within the BOs, particularly, in order to develop IWRM.

There are two kinds of missions eligible to the project:

  • “Familiarization” missions aiming at deepening the understanding of the peer organizations as a whole, or of one of its major activities. Those missions usually cover 1-2 weeks and rarely involve more than two visitors at a time. They are notably useful when signing or renewing a partnership agreement.
  • Training or capacity building aiming at intense training of one visitor at a time in a restricted field, usually technical (study or research department, etc...). Those training usually cover several weeks.

More than 36 Twinnings (including 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last call projects) were approved and supported in 2005-2007. Some Twinning projects have been already closed as the missions were successfully achieved and activities proposed were very efficient. However, the majority of twinning projects are still running and mission reports have not been prepared yet.

After deep analysis of available mission reports it was identified that different projects focused on various specific areas of interest based on IWRM. Those areas concerned with implementation of WFD, GIS development, draught problems prevention, groundwater (exploitation and protection), automated monitoring, monitoring networks, administrative framework (organization of River basin authority), capacity building, dam sedimentation, water quality aspects, automated hydrologic information system and community participation.

The lessons learnt during the Twinning project mission are very useful for basin organizations and global IWRM practice:

Segura (Spain)-Crete (Greece) project had a numerous expectations and a range of specific goals.

During the visit to Spain (mission 1 and 2) Greece experts gained practical experience and exchanged information on economical analysis of water (cost analysis of desalinated water, the impacts to the environment; the cost analysis and the reuse of water); the characterization of river basin (water resources - characteristics, hydrology, climatology hydrogeology, infrastructure - hydraulic systems, Segura river dams, wells, conjunctive use of surface and ground water, water uses – consumption per use, reuse of treated water, modernization of agricultural practice); the impact of human activities (agricultural patterns and the consumption of water to irrigate hydroponic crops); the identification of pressures - establishment of reference condition for surface water bodies; registration of protected areas and the application of GIS (as well as discussion about AQUATOL water resource management and planning system). Moreover, the observation of Segura River Basin Confederation will be useful for organization of Directorate of Water in Region of Crete.

During the visit to Greece (mission 3 and 4) the following useful information was obtained: 1) the information about capabilities and functioning of models RIBASIM and HYMOS used to perform IWRM in the island of Crete (comparison with the tools used in SRB), 2) possibility of making IWRM based mainly in groundwater resources (discussion of unique technologies to apply the groundwater to flowers and other crop production); 3) information about the structure of water administration in Greece (as well as the information about the characteristics of the budgets for the Region of Crete and the structure of investment projects around the water resources and agriculture)

Jucar(Spain)-Buzau(Romaina) project (2005) is focused on flood prevention, automatic hydrologic systems, monitoring networks and administrative framework

During the visit to Spain (mission 1 and 2) the following lessons were learnt: 1) Romanian experts obtained useful information to compare the treatment of temporary streams (simplification of approach in the treatment of temporary streams) which could solve river basin characterization problem; 2) possibility to improve heavily modified water bodies (HMWBs) delineation as reaches located downstream reservoirs using biological indexes; 3) new methodology to assess morphological pressures; 4) the functioning of Automatic hydrologic information system; 5) the functions of Biological monitoring network.

The visit of Spanish experts to Romania was the part of mission 3 and 4 fulfillment. 1) Administrative structure of basin Authorities was compared and it was identified that Apele Romane had more responsibilities and functions (because there was single line of management); 2) information exchange on dams, their functioning and safety programs; 3) comparison of biological monitoring network helped to assess the complexity of both networks.

Water Agency of Seine-Normandie (France) – Basin Agency of Algerian Hodna Soummam (Algeria) twinning project is focused on development of system of payment for withdrawal of water by industry, tourism and services (judicial, technical and administrative and elaboration of communication plan)

The lessons learnt during the visit of French experts to Algeria have proved that global actions are required to develop water policy. Water policy actions have to be multidisciplinary and should take into account the needs of all stakeholders (institutions, users, polluters). Complementarities of competencies allow proposing concrete solutions on a particular project.

Jucar(Spain)-Buzau(Romaina) project (2006) is focused on economic analysis in water management, implementation and improvement of monitoring networks and their adaptation to the WFD requirements

A visit to Romania (Mission 5 and 6) helped Spanish experts learn methodologies for:

1) Economic analysis – the detailed information about water tariffing and billing was provided. There is a basic price established at the national level in Romania, and this is later adapted to the type of user and resource origin, having as a result different situations on the global balance and for the different RBOs in Romania. Price varies according to the services provided to users including management (planning, exploitation, hydrological and quality control, hydraulic works: dams, channels), treatment and distribution. The major difference observed between the Jucar and Buzau RBOs referred to the amortisation system / cost-recovery focus (infrastructure amortisation is not taken into account in Romania) and to the water price (some RBOs show a deficit, but there is an overall compensation when all economic results are put together). In Romania, a single price for water is established for the whole country, depending on the type of resource (surface, groundwater and Danube) and the user that it’s destined to (industrial,communal manager, agrozootechnic, electric power plants, irrigation, fisheries). In Spain, there is a price for each infrastructure (users) in each RBO;

2) Monitoring networks – important information was provided on qualitative monitoring networks (surface and ground water) as well as the water policy applied. Other topics discussed in Buzau-Ialomita RBO and at the Ministry of Environment and Apele Romane covered the political will of decentralisation for decision making in environmental and more specifically in water issues, public participation as one of the priorities, and the functioning of the Black Sea Commission and the International Danube Committee.

During the visit to Spain (as a part of mission 7, 8 and 9) Romanian experts found out important information regarding: 1) new system support for decision (SSD) as for planning of hydraulic resources, named AQUATOL. The software consists of a group of programs (SIMGES, GESCAL, ECOWIN) which allow the stimulation of a water resource system on a monthly scale. Romanian experts considered the possibility to apply Model AQUATOL in Romania in order to obtain good results in cost recovery process; 2) the public participation decision-making process in the water field. It was learnt that Jucar River Authority has highly transparent system which allows high accessibility of to the information about Jucar RBO activities; 3) the use of structural funds in Spain which helps to solve the problem of generating money for projects.

BSBD Varna (Bulgaria) - Dobrugea Littoral Constanta (Romania) project focuses on specific areas of interest identified as coastal erosion and corrosion, administrative framework (organization of River Basin Authority) and integrated coastal zone management

A visit to Romania by Bulgarian experts (missions 1-4) this important information was revealed: Due to similar conditions (climatic, environmental, water uses, water scarcity, etc) between the two basins, methodologies developed in Dobrogea Littoral Water Directorate for the adaptation of WFD could be applicable for the BSBD Varna and for other river basins of Bulgaria. However, 1) the administrative framework is not similar and Bulgarian experts observed how the Dobrogea Littoral Constanta was functioning; 2) the reasons for erosion of Romanian coastal zones were identified, 3) very useful information on measures for ecological restoration; 4) Bulgarian experts gained knowledge regarding preparation of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) for surface water, ground water and Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)

The OLT – KOMATI project between Romania and Swaziland is focused on administrative and legal framework, dam operation, surveillance and maintenance in the River basins, monitoring networks (river flow and water quality) as well as drought and flood mitigation strategies.

After the visit to Swaziland (mission 1) Romanian experts learnt the following lessons: 1) Discussions were made on Swaziland’s water institutional and legislative framework. The Komati River Basin is a trans-boundary watercourse shared by the Republic of South Africa (RSA), the Kingdom of Swaziland (KoS) and the Republic of Mozambique. The Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA) is charged with the management of the river basin under a treaty signed between RSA and Swaziland of which consent was given by Mozambique in a separate Agreement. KOBWA developed Decision Support Systems (DSS) to manage the system. An extensive water-monitoring program has been put in place to improve the effectiveness of these DSSs. There has been a wide acceptance of the DSS by the users in the basin since the DSSs enable water users and water managers to make transparent water management decisions. 2) How the fractional water allocation and reservoir capacity sharing (FWARCS) and Water Banking can be applied at basin scale and in a transboundary level. This system involves users in the management of their water right. In FWARCS, the behavior of one user does not impact on other users in the system.3)useful information was received about the automatic water monitoring system used in Maguga and Drikopies dams for real time water quality assessment.

Motueka Integrated Catchment Management Programme Centre for Research on Water (New Zealand) - Spey Fishery Board (Scotland) twinning project focused on stakeholder engagement framework for the Spey based on the lessons learned in the Motueka.

The visit of Scottish specialist to New Zealand allowed to: 1) carefully examine the outcomes of the Motueka ICM program and consider the implementation in the river basin management plan for the River Spey. As a result the relevant management objectives in Spey catchment Management plan were figured out. 2) define the degree to which the development and implementation of environmental policy and regulation is devolved to local authorities with minimal central government guidance, the potential value of community engagement (in this case the Community Reference Group) as a sounding board for issue-based science programs, the importance of including stakeholder consultation and community engagement at an early stage in the design of an ICM program which truly seeks to integrate science, policy and public participation 3) identify the need to distinguish generic program outcomes which can be disseminated to other national/regional and local organizations also involved in river basin management, from outcomes which are specific to the basin.

Society for water and public health protection (Nigeria) - Volta Basin Development Foundation (Ghana) twinning project is focused on integrated flood management

During 1 month visit to Nigeria the experts from Ghana obtained useful information related to flood management: flood hazard management and emergency response agencies have a key role in enhancing local communities coping capacities by involving then in decision-making on all matters relating to floods. Lack of effective regulatory agreements, lack of effective institutional structures for IWRM, lack of political will to enforce those agreements and regulations lead to inability to efficiently manage flood problem in some African countries.

Artois Picardie Water Agency (France) - Banat River Basin Authority (Romania) twinning project focused on knowledge exchange about the river basin organisations activities, mainly connected to the WFD implementation, Cooperation on the development of the activities regarding economic analysis and public participation

During the visit to France (as a part of mission 1 and 3) Romanian experts obtained the following results: 1) information about French strategies and methodologies in the economic analysis and public participation approaches; 2) harmonization and negotiations methods concerning the international cooperation within an international river basin; 3) information about proper technologies in food industry and small municipalities waste water treatment; 4) evaluated the GIS approach in the field of River Basin Management Plan developing; 5) learned about French way of identification and management of vulnerable areas to nitrates from agriculture. During the visit to Romania (mission 2) allowed French experts to: 1) compare the characteristics and main water management issues of Banat River Basin and Artois-Picardie River basin; 2) collect economic data to develop the economic analysis for the WFD; 3) get information about flood protection based on the experience of Apele Romanie (monitoring, alert system, protection and mitigation measures)

Ebro (Spain)-Molouya(Morocco) twinning project is focused on exchange of experience and learning about administrative framework Agence Bassin Hydraulique Molouya (in particular description of departments, areas and their functioning), dam sedimentation and erosion.

This twinning project is still running and only mission 1 have been achieved so far. Spanish experts visited the Molouya basin. 1) The exchange of experience and learning about administrative framework revealed that Moulouya Agency is still young and has the limited number of responsibilities. Although the structure of the Agency is consistent with objectives Molouya Agency’s means are limited. 2) Spanish experts learnt about new practice of fight with dam siltation without wasting the water (by pumping silt out of reservoir). Molouya practice in Mechra Omadi Dam could be very helpful in cases where flushing sediments is not possible (for instance in aridity zones).

BSBD Varna (Bulgaria) – Region Of Crete (Greece) twinning project which is focused on groundwater exploitation and protection, monitoring networks and administrative authority (organization of the River Basin Authority)

During the visits to Greece (mission 1 and 3) Bulgarian experts were acquainted with: 1) administrative framework and capacity of Greek institution responsible for IWRM at the basin level; 2) approaches for sustainable water management in conditions of restricted water quantity; 3) the application of GIS and computer models in the process of monitoring, prognoses and management of quality and quantity of water as well as approaches for design and optimization of a monitoring set and program; 4) practical methods for reduction of the saline intrusion into groundwater and use of desalinated water; 5) wastewater treatment process and the monitoring programs of the effluents; 6) telemetric system observation and management of the aqueduct both domestic and irrigation system; 7) meteorological automatic system for observation of the meteorological conditions; 8) approaches for conservation of biodiversity in Crete; 9) methodology for ecological and chemical assessment of rivers with intermittent flow and 10) development of projects related to integrated water management.

During the visit to Bulgaria (mission 2) Greek experts were provided with useful information on: 1) the methods of protection of aquatic environment (monitoring and protection from tourists’ activities); 2) wastewater treatment processes and monitoring of the effluent waters; 3) approaches on sustainable water management in conditions of conjunctive use of surface and ground water.

Some of the practices and methodologies learnt during the twinning projects may be useful for all Basin Organizations. Countries can solve many water related problems by analyzing, replicating, adjusting and implementing water resource management practices and experiences.