Water Stewardship Portal

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng

Abstract

Context

Climate and demographic changes in Africa and Asia will threaten the livelihood and billions of people who depend on environmental resources, and the environment itself and its services will be increasingly threatened. Some of the most significant threats are the impacts of changes in floods and droughts and the impacts of human water system interventions (increased abstractions, storage dams, pollution, etc.). Many of the changes are unavoidable, water is required for generating food and energy and climate changes are going to occur.

Water managers need to efficiently and effectively adapt water-ecological-environmental systems to preserve ecological health whilst ensuring a sustainable livelihood for those who depend on the environment. How can this be done at global scale? How can water managers reconcile and integrate remote sensing information, climate and hydrological model predictions, water rights/license and water use information to understand the viability of future ecological and economic water services and evaluate the impacts of future interventions?

Proposed contribution

Our proposed consortium and partners have seen evidence in our work that effective and sustainable water management is enabled when 3 conditions are met: data on hydrological reality and sectoral water use is available, analysis of the impacts of water system interventions is feasible and sufficiently accurate, and stakeholders have a credible involvement in water management decisions (with appropriate and accessible information and tools). The aim of our project is to help enable these conditions to manifest globally in a cost-effective manner by providing a generic adaptable on/offline tool that can be quickly configured, sustainably maintained, and extended over time for any basin by consortia of different user types (basin organisations, NGOs, producers, etc.).

To this end we propose a water data visualisation, analysis and communication portal guided by a consortium of water stewardship interested organisations. The online/offline software platform we've called the Water Stewardship Portal (WS Portal) would combine the 3 essential components of practical water management into 4 main modules (think 'tabs' on a web browser):
1. Storage and visualisation of spatial hydrological data (GIS, remote sensing, time-series)
2. Water accounting registry
3. Intervention impact assessment
4. Decision dashboard

Case-study

The portal will be applied to Kenya's Tana River Basin, which covers 22% of the country's land mass and hosts 18% of Kenya's population. The basin supports a wide variety of ecosystem and economic services including hydropower production, water supply interests, reservoirs for irrigation, and a variety of ecosystems. The Tana basin supports roughly 90% of Nairobi's water supplies and generates 60% of Kenya's power. The basin is home to intensive agricultural production by Kenyan small and large farmers and multinationals; in some parts of the basin, over 80% of inhabitants rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Any change or increase in water use by any of these sectors could be controversial and lead to conflict; consumptive uses will reduce flows which have already been strongly reduced by regulating hydropower dams. For these reason the tool, with its aim to link together: accurate estimation of water use by the sectors (particularly agriculture), incorporate that into a hydrological model which is linked to a water rights database and a generic resource intervention impact model, will be valuable. The tool is to be applied in collaboration with the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) of Kenya, colleagues from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, and international partners interested in water stewardship, including M&S, WWF, and The World Bank.

Planned Impact

We see the work leading to specific global, case-study (Kenya, Tana basin), and UK benefits including:

Benefits to end users globally:
NGOs, governments, development banks, basin agencies, stakeholder groups have an open and accessible portal that links many global data sets and can be supplemented by local data (GIS, remote sensed, hydrological-model based). The portal combines many sources of information and presents most of them visually (spatial map form), with tabular data and other summary graphics for the hydro-economic risk dashboard view. This allows a more accessible and visual way for stakeholders to learn about and engage with river basin water resources. By encouraging water using producers (corporations), environmental organisations and governments to share data and analysis, the portal helps lead to a shared vision of existing water resources and potential future impacts.

Benefits to end users in Kenya:
The Kenyan Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) is charged with setting water allocations rules and delivering water abstraction licences. It is understaffed, under-skilled and under resourced. Remote-sensing of the environment can help reduce dependency on expensive flow gauging, web-based open-source and modular technologies can replace expensive single-source proprietary water resource decision-support systems, and online shared information/visualisation systems can help multi-institutional group cooperate efficiently. WRMA, and thus indirectly the people and natural habitats of Kenya would benefit from its environmental regulator being better able to manage human impacts on the water environment. The proposed system could lead to better licensing policies and procedures, more easily controlled, quantified and understood illegal abstraction, and better impact modelling for assessing new interventions and investments.

Benefits to end users in the Tana River Basin:
The Tana River basin in seeing increased tensions due to increasing and changing water uses, land use changes and reservoir operations. Unregistered abstraction of water may be a significant factor but little is known about this. Our first tasks will involve identifying water uses spatially throughout the basin; this will provide a better idea of agriculture's current water use and indicate how it could evolve. Identifying where unauthorised withdrawals are occurring will inform WRMA where they could bolster staff, resources and procedures. Apart from current water use, significant agricultural expansions are planned throughout the basin, and via different crops, the tool will be able to set these as scenarios so that a water resource model can be used to evaluate impacts of hydropower and ecosystems services. This will help each party argue for a balanced share of future resources and to put in place investments and policies that are defensible and equitable.

Benefits to the UK:
The platform will provide UK-based organisations with a unique tool to quantify water risks and enhance water stewardship goals within their supply chains. A WS Portal tool built in the UK would enhance UK's position as a leader in global water science, management and conservation. Positioning UK scientists and engineers to be able to embed scientific output and tools into products that helps cooperative water management between government, NGO's and businesses would benefit our scientists, our conservation organisations, our water-using businesses and our environmental consulting services. The tool would equally be of interest to UK environmental regulators such as the environment agency, who like Kenya, do not have a suite of interconnected water resource assessment tools linking hydrological data and modelling, licensing, and impact modelling. Finally, those UK organisations that are interested and promoting the water stewardship agenda in the UK and abroad such as WWF, M&S and others like the Environment Agency would be advanced by this work.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Kenya can better exploit its information about licensed water uses to help it understand water use nationally, and make better water use decisions in future.
Exploitation Route The WSP will be an online open-source tool, so we hope others will use or adapt it to their situations.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description Kenya's WRA has began to think about how it could better use its water licensing data to help make better decisions about future licensing, about overexploitation, and about evaluating the impact of water resource development projects on license holders.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Global Challenge Research Fund - Growing Research Capability to Meet the Challenges Faced by Developing Countries
Amount £9,846,864 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/P011373/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 12/2021
 
Title Web interface to Pywr 
Description Web-based graphical user interface to the Pywr modelling library for network resource system simulation. Free to use online but not currently open source. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Being freely available through a website this interface is of interest to many people who cannot afford or do not want to pay for a licence to use water resource system simulation software. 
URL https://hydra.org.uk
 
Description Demonstration to Kenyan Water Resources Authority of progress in developing portal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 10 people nominated previously as stakeholders in the project attended a progress meeting about the Water Stewardship Portal development, at the offices of the Water Resources Authority in the NHIF Building in Nairobi. The meeting was scheduled for 2 hours but ran to 4 hours owing to the degree of interest in the progress made by the project. Participants included consultants working on other projects for the Water Resources Authority and project partners from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural Technology (JKUAT). A demonstration of the portal was given and participants created accounts to allow them to use and explore the functionality of the portal in their own time after the meeting. WRA participants showed great interest in the potential for the portal to enhance their planning processes and pledged to follow up within two weeks to discuss next steps.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Contribution to COP23, Bonn, Germany Water Stream Proposal for the Water Action Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Nature Based Solutions for an uncertain future? IUCN Pavilion, Bonn Zone, C.05
Thursday 9th November, 10:00 - 11:30 Bonn, COP23. This event will focus on the challenge of identifying scalable natural solutions to adapt to climate change, and how to raise the necessary financial and technical capital for natural infrastructure adaptation solutions. Presentations will be followed by active discussion with the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://cop23.unfccc.int/event/nature-based-solutions-for-an-uncertain-future
 
Description Early trials of portal interface/functionality - Ghana 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An early version of the water stewardship portal software was used by 20 participants from multiple agencies/organisations in Ghana for basic economic-based optimisation of a simple river system network. This provided extensive and valuable feedback on the functionality of the interface and the modelling capabilities, informing the need for a change of direction on the type of simulation offered. Participants were appreciative of the opportunity to better understand the benefits of water resources system simulation modelling and contribute to the development of the modelling interface.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Early trials of portal interface/functionality - Kenya 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Early versions of the water stewardship portal software were used by 14 participants from multiple agencies/organisations in Kenya for basic economic-based optimisation of a simple river system network. This provided extensive and valuable feedback on the functionality of the interface and the modelling capabilities, informing the need for a change of direction on the type of simulation offered. Participants were appreciative of the opportunity to better understand the benefits of water resources system simulation modelling and contribute to the development of the modelling interface.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description JKUAT modelling and software co-development session 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 44 students and staff of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural Technology spent 3 hours interacting with the browser-based water resources system simulation software developed. They all created accounts to allow them to use the modelling system online after the session, where instructional videos are also available to refresh memories of what was learned in the session. The software was enthusiastically received and a number of students showed interest in using the software for their studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Nile Basin Initiative - Nile regional forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Nile Development forum presentation about FutureDAMS and conglict prevention in water resources projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://nbdf.nilebasin.org/
 
Description November 22 2017 WSP meeting in Nairobi 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Kenyan project kickoff meeting. We spent the day at WRA (Kenyan Water Resources Authority) understanding what their water resource licensing data consists of, and how its access and use could be enhanced to imrpove their water management and planning decisions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017