Awareness Workshop on "Integrated Water Resources Management - Applications Developed
under Hydrology Project – II
The meeting was held on 28 and 29 January at the Lalit Hotel, New Delhi and attended by
stakeholders in the World Bank funded Hydrology Project Phase 2 as well as other State agencies
interested in perhaps participating in any future extensions of the Hydrology Project.
The initial session included welcoming addresses from the Ministry of Water Resources and the
World Bank, and outlines of the two day event planned for the participants. The Secretary, MoWR
explained the purpose of the Hydrology Project, and how the objectives aligned with National Water
Policy and the Policy on Data Dissemination, and other initiatives. The World Bank representative
stressed the fundamental nature of the Hydrology Project, stressing that for the Bank water is a
unifying lens for looking at development, and knowledge of water resources is essential to good
management. He further explained that the World Bank is very happy to consider participation in
future phases of this work.
Technical sessions opened with presentations concerning real-time (RT) data acquisition systems – an
area of significant progress made under HP2.
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) representative described the extensive system being
installed to support their real-time management system developed through a “Decision Support
System” (DSS) consultancy. He stressed that equivalent systems in the west actually have much more
extensive data acquisition systems to support such sophisticated management, so there is still a lot
that could be done to make further improvements. The benefit of the new system was illustrated by
the management of the flood in 2013 when the Sutlej River carried as much runoff in the year as in
1998 which caused heavy human, livestock and agricultural losses. In 2013 the damage was
negligible. It was also stressed that the RT-DSS models have potential to save lives. With an
illustration of early information of the 2013 Uttarakhand storm which might have allowed
management measures to mitigate actual losses. He also advocated installation of similar systems
elsewhere in India to optimise performance of expensive system assets such as reservoirs.
The Maharashtra Surface Water real-time system was also described, and this also supports a DSS for
improved reservoir operation.
The representative of the Central Pollution Control Board described the real-time water quality
monitoring system (RT-WQMS) established with ten monitoring locations in the Ganga basin. He
started with early attempts to monitor water quality conditions through programmes in 1992-95 and
1998 which though costly, were unsuccessful. This time things are much more promising, and were
briefly demonstrated. The installed RT-WQMS can measure 10 parameters in real time. Two
examples were cited where benefits have already been derived – management of water quality for
the Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahbad. During the Mela paper mills and distilleries were closed in
advance to reduce the level of colour-inducing pollutants in the river which had earlier created
problems. The point was also made about the management of periodically high ammonia levels at the
Wazirabad intake for New Delhi water supply. There were some maintenance issues with the
equipment – algae accumulation on sensors and persistence of foggy days in North India sometimes
meaning solar power top-up of batteries is not sufficient. But these are being addressed with the
suppliers. For future projects, CPCB is considering procuring data rather than equipment to make
sure of supplier involvement in proper maintenance of such systems.
In comments following the session, the Chairman, CWC stressed the importance of such real-time
data systems for proper flood management as well as efficient water management.
The post-lunch session on the first day focused on groundwater. A representative of the Central
Groundwater Board (CGWB) gave an overview of the work being undertaken under HP2 on the
“aquifer mapping pilot project”. The project seeks to examine effective ways of developing
information for management of groundwater and mapping of aquifers. The pilots are being carried
out in six zones (each area approximately 500 sq km) across India.
The representative of the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) – consultant to CGWB –
explained the geophysical methods being tried and the results obtained in the pilot areas. These
were shown to be detailed images of sub-surface geology through interpretation to provide
seemingly accurate and detailed knowledge of the aquifers largely obtained through heli-borne
survey. He also claimed that the cost – while high – was actually much cheaper than alternative
means of acquiring this information.
The development of data management systems under HP2 was also described by a CGWB
representative. He reported the work to be 70% complete, and will provide a comprehensive data
management and interpretation system for users connected to the data-base through the web – thus
meaning users do not need elaborate software or hardware to make full use of the new system, and
the system can be easily extended to serve all users across India.
Representatives from the US Geological Survey (USGS) contributed their experience in similar aquifer
mapping work and groundwater modelling in the US. The presentations explained what could be
achieved in terms of improving understanding of groundwater systems leading to improved resource
In summary, the Chairman, CGWB welcomed the contributions and discussions but also stressed that
there was no singly universal panacea for these problems – heli-borne surveys, for example, could not
be flown over urbanised or sensitive areas, so need for multi-pronged approaches.
The morning session on the second day had a surface water focus.
Work under HP2 to develop a DSS Planning Tool was explained with reference to the application of
the tool in Kerala. The NIH representative explained the objectives of tool development, while the
Kerala representative provided examples of use of the tools to allow effective interaction with
planners to quantify impact of alternative development strategies. These had led not only to
progressing projects but also to rejecting proposed projects as unlikely to have the benefits being
sought. The use of these tools is now being extended from the pilot basin to the rest of the State,
and all proposed projects will be examined for impact using the software.
A representative of Central Water Commission (CWC) described work under HP2 to develop a web-
based data management system for surface water for all States and central agencies. This software
will update and replace software developed under HP1, but will be centrally managed so users will
not require to manage their own software and hardware for data management, data verification and
Another representative for CWC presented progress on developing hydrological design aids under
HP2. These will allow uniformity of analysis in preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for water
resources development projects (which have to be reviewed by CWC) and also allow data used for
DPR preparation too be shared with the reviewer making original analysis as well as checking much
simpler. Development of the HDA tools is well advanced.
Chairman CWC added a comment that HDA can be a lot of help to CWC but it will also require a lot of
training to make its use effective. CWC will need training modules to reduce complications in its
working. The experience of USGS can be utilized and attention may be focussed onto web enabled
services through cloud based servers.
A presentation was made by the representative of Himachal Pradesh on the achievements of that
State as a new partner in Hydrology Project 2. He stressed the need for good coordination and high
level support for project implementation, and praised the support and advice provided by Central
Agencies and earlier partners of Hydrology Project in support of the planning and implementation of
the project. One issue flagged for the future was that staff of the line Department (Irrigation and
Public Health Department) were not (in general) interested in posting to the new sections responsible
for operating the networks and data management system developed.
A representative of Karnataka Water Resources Department explained the work they had done under
HP2 to improve real-time delivery of data to their data centre, and how such data were disseminated
and used for prompt response. Web-sites with up-to-date rainfall and reservoir level data were
A scientist from NIH presented a purpose-driven study undertaken under HP2 to investigate reservoir
sedimentation in the important Bhakra Reservoir on the Sutlej River. He contrasted various methods
of monitoring sediment transport and sedimentation accumulation in the reservoir.
In summarising the session, the Chairman, CWC stated that the outputs of HP2 are changing CWC and
good for the future. A key issue is how the organisation can nurture and replicate the improvements
that have been made. It will be important to extend the impact of the Hydrology Project across all
States in India.
In parallel with the morning session, there was an additional groundwater session to present in detail
the work of the pilot aquifer mapping projects.
The next presentation was on the evolution of the Murray-Darling basin management practices in
Australia since year 1863 onwards with the help of progressive development of important legislation
and policy at critical times (and in response to environmental crisis). Points made included
observations that Australia had similar State / National rules concerning responsibility for water
management, and there were complications arising from water rights being tied to ownership of the
farm land. Allowing these to be de-linked and water rights sold separately introduced water trading
(the buying and selling of tradable water rights) has allowed greater flexibility in water and land
In the afternoon session there was discussion of what is needed after Hydrology Project Phase 2.
A “vision for surface water” was presented for CWC. This included the spread of software tools
developed under HP2 to all States in India, with effective coordination in their use through CWC.
Further perceived needs included standardisation of hydrometric equipment (following use of HP1
and HP2 standardisation of specifications), and integration of databases allowing effective data
dissemination. The potential role of tools to improve reliability of data through appropriate
validation and data sharing might lead to reduction in inter-State water disputes, and management of
resources through river basin approach. A National Water Informatics Centre dealing with
management of the hydrological database was also advocated.
In the “vision for groundwater” presented on behalf of the CGWB the shift from “groundwater
development” to “groundwater management” was underlined. Much of this would be through the
NAQUIM programme (being piloted under HP2) developing appropriate information for local
management of groundwater.
The concluding part of the session was an invitation to comment from participants.
Representatives of Jharkhand stressed their keenness with a presentation called Intent of Jharkhand
beyond HP - to participate in any future Hydrology Project programme to develop information
sources to allow them to properly respond to requests for access and use of water resources. They
further requested for all the data by all agencies already involved in HP-II to exchange so that they
can easily join HP-3. The also enquired about funding to execute GW recharge structures in response
the secretary said the fund can be collected from MGNREGA and CGWB can send the design for GW
The West Bengal representative also expressed a strong desire to participate in future programmes.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Engineer citing the special case of the State asked the central government
to help his state in joining HP-3.
The World Bank Task Leader commented that HP-3 will be a joint decision by all agencies and
government and WB. The Secretary, MoWR in summing up requested those wishing for future phases
of the Hydrology Project to inform in writing the World Bank as well as the Ministry, and also stressed
his opinion that “data sharing is good for us all”.