Conclusions – integrated water management and the future
 Water policies must be comprehensive to be effective – embrace many
objectives (economics, cultural needs, ecological needs, ethical concerns).
 They must acknowledge watersheds and aquifers in mind– these don’t always
conform to political jurisdictions.
 They must recognize that – like other natural resources – (e.g., energy, timber,
fisheries) – freshwater can be depleted, and bad management can lead to
degrading of environmental quality.
 They must seek to be sustainable – sound management balances supply and
demand for the benefit of future generations.
Reforming decision-making important to the future of water
resource policy
 Bad decisions generally ignore alternatives to providing additional freshwater.
 Bad decisions ignore costs, adverse environmental impacts.
 Bad decisions ignore socially damaging consequences – e.g., need to relocate
------------------------------------------ Good decisions consider all viable options to supplying clean water– they try
to evaluate and embrace emerging social and natural trends.
 Good decisions rely on good science that is not beholden to special interests.
 Good decisions embrace public concerns and public demands through
allowing participation.
Adaptive Management – making better decisions
 Goal – make and modify decisions in light of what we have learned
about the impacts of previous decisions on natural & social systems.
 We should seek to learn from mistakes, make corrections.
 Challenge – no one is in a position to “preach” to others: all have
made their share of bad decisions.
 Decisions should be:
 Modest in scope and impact.
 Scientifically sound, based on real-time monitoring.
 Reversible if failure evident – avoid structural measures if possible.
 Negotiate boundaries among science, policy, ethics – by planning
Developing nation efforts to develop water resources –
lessons for adaptive management
 Brazil – Itaipu Dam (1971-1984)
 China – Three Gorges Dam (1994-2005)
Itaipu Dam as case study
Itaipu Dam – under construction
Itaipu Dam – Parana River
Border of Brazil and Paraguay
Major dam benefits
 World’s 2nd largest hydroelectric facility – 14,000 MW (as much as 9
nuclear plants).
 Provides 20% of Brazil’s and 94% of Paraguay’s power.
 Fostered strong political and economic cooperation between Brazil and
Paraguay – agreed to joint construction, management, and operation – a
bi-national commission manages the project and sells power.
 In recent years – some political friction over power sales: Paraguay wants
to be able to re-sell surplus power anywhere it chooses; Brazil says no.
 Has encouraged foreign investment in and around the project – from
Argentina, Italy, U.S.
Major dam impacts
 Over 700 square km of old growth forests were destroyed – mostly on Paraguayan
side of reservoir; over 4 million people relocated.
 Some plant species became extinct during construction (including a rare orchid).
 Adaptive measures?
 Through bi-national efforts, many endangered plant species and forests were salvaged -
today, over 50 percent of what could have been lost in the region remains.
 Both governments undertook environmental planning to monitor and prevent further
damage to flora and fauna.
 To minimize effects of reservoir flooding on the fauna of the region by catching animals
and releasing them in biological reserves.
 A forest buffer/protective zone was established around the reservoir on the Brazilian
side to avert further damage after project completed.
 Verdict? Uncertain – much damage was averted after the project was completed;
but initial impacts may be irreversible.
Three Gorges Dam as case
Three Gorges Dam – under construction
Three Gorges Dam – 2008
Major dam benefits
 Goal: “Build up a power project to promote economic development,
improve the local eco-environment, and benefit reservoir migrants.”
 By 2011 will be able to generate 22,500 MW of electricity (equivalent to
10-15 fossil or nuclear power plants).
 Flood control of Yangtze River virtually ensured – 1.5 million hectares of
land, 15 million people protected from 100 year floods.
 Year-round navigation channel to Shanghai and East China Sea: growth
from 9.5 – 60 million tons/cargo per year between 2003-08.
 Gaining experience to be used in other projects on Jinsha River,
elsewhere in China.
Major dam impacts
 1.3 – 2 million people displaced; 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages
inundated; 600 kilometers of river valley flooded, many archeological
sites lost.
 Submergence of hundreds of factories, mines, waste dumps creating
effluent, silt, industrial pollutants and rubbish in reservoir.
 Erosion of reservoir and downstream riverbanks causing landslides,
threatening one of the world’s biggest fisheries in the East China Sea.
 Scientists estimate annual catches may be reduced by one million tons
due to decline in fresh water and sediment reaching the sea.
 Project plagued by corruption, spiraling costs, technological problems,
resettlement difficulties.
Achieving Adaptive Management
 Manage by learning/modify through experience:
 Determine what impacts affect basin and surrounding region.
 Give stakeholders opportunity to envision different scenarios.
 Former was done at Itaipu, not Three Gorges – latter was not done in either
case: decisions were centralized, non-participatory from outset.
 Make errors reversible:
 Emphasize non-structural solutions where applicable.
 Employ multi-purpose planning from outset (e.g., in-stream flow, allocation,
water quality).
 In both cases, governments set out to dam a river for power, flood control –
non-structural measures, smaller dams not considered.
 Mid-course corrections:
 Some correction at Itaipu; remains to be seen if damage at TG can be reversed.
 Public involvement – limited at both; public was not encouraged to identify
concerns/acceptable solutions. There were protests/public dissent at TG.
Conclusions & lessons
 Debate is continuing – particularly as new dams come “on-line” (e.g.,
Ethiopia, China, India).
 Dams create adverse environmental and social impacts that cannot be
entirely mitigated!
 Are adverse impacts worth the benefits?
 Does flooding an “upstream” region generate benefits for people
“downstream?” – is it worth it?
 This is a debate in Ethiopia today, for example, over Gilgel Gibe project.
 How else can the world get its water supply, electricity, and development
needs met?

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