Several catchment plans have been already developed through the Dutch-funded Water for Growth programme. FutureWater played a paramount role in this programme by developing the water allocation models (WEAP) at national level and for several priority catchments. Moreover, FutureWater provided capacity building to local experts and staff on using and further developing and fine-tuning those WEAP models.

The current project aims at developing two catchment plans, for:

  1. Mukungwa catchment
  2. Akagera Lower catchment

These catchments were included in a previous national-level water resources allocation study performed by FutureWater. Four catchments were selected from this national level assessment to make catchment-level WEAP models to inform the catchment plans. A next step for the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB), is to prepare catchment plans for the above two catchments, for which this project will be instrumental.

For the two catchments, this study aims at (1) providing detailed information on available and renewable water resources, both surface and groundwater, and their spatial and temporal variations; and (2) to map and quantify water uses and water demands, to develop water allocation models that can be used as tools to manage operationally and plan the catchments in a sustainable way. The scenarios (options) assessed can also be essential input into the catchment management plan. This study will produce water allocation models based on current and potential uses in a time-horizon of 30 years.

The project is carried out in collaboration with a team of local experts and one of our partners Dr. Kaan Tuncok as a team leader.

Mukungwa and Akagera Lower catchments

The training aimed at building and enhancing capabilities of the participants in environmental and hydrological monitoring and modeling and was funded by the Orange Knowledge Program of Nuffic. It gave the participants valuable and necessary knowledge on IWRM and it provided the participants with relevant hands-on experience and cutting-edge knowledge on innovative solutions in water allocation modeling and earth observation technologies.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the training was held online using our eLearning platform FutureWater Moodle School. The beauty of this platform is that all online sessions can be recorded and they are still available for the participants to have another look at it. All material (exercises, manuals etc.) developed during the course is also still available on our FutureWater Moodle School. The Rwanda Water Resources Board is recruiting new staff in the future and this new staff will also have access to all material.

Topics covered in the training are:

WEAP:

  • Build a WEAP model from scratch
  • Work with WEAP’ Basic Tools
  • Create and run Scenarios in WEAP
  • Extract water balances from WEAP
  • Generate a hydrological model using WEAP’ Automatic Catchment Delineation Tool

Google Earth Engine:

  • First glance at JavaScript Syntax
  • Explore and visualize Landsat 8 Imagery
  • Create charts with Monthly NDVI Values
  • Use WaPOR for Water Productivity calculations
  • Work with CHIRPS Rainfall data
  • Evaluate the water balance of a catchment

 

Last week FutureWater has finished the Tailor Made Training for the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) on Water Allocation Modeling and Remote Sensing Analysis. We taught about 20 participants of the RWB how to work with the Water Evaluation And Planning model WEAP and the Remote Sensing platform of Google Earth Engine (GEE), state of the art technologies that are excellent for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The training aimed at building and enhancing capabilities of the participants in environmental and hydrological monitoring and modeling and was funded by the Orange Knowledge Program of Nuffic. It gave the participants valuable and necessary knowledge on IWRM and it provided the participants with relevant hands-on experience and cutting-edge knowledge on innovative solutions in water allocation modeling and earth observation technologies.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the training was held online using our eLearning platform FutureWater Moodle School. The beauty of this platform is that all online sessions can be recorded and they are still available for the participants to have another look at it. All material (exercises, manuals etc.) developed during the course is also still available on our FutureWater Moodle School. The Rwanda Water Resources Board is recruiting new staff in the future and this new staff will also have access to all material.

When COVID-19 restrictions were less strict in November 2020 and Rwanda was considered as one of the few safe countries to go to, FutureWater colleagues Jonna van Opstal and Reinier Koster went to Kigali to host a 3 day on-site training session. The training adhered to strict measures (social distancing, mouth masks, disinfectant and full time ventilation) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The on-site training really added value to the course, since the trainers were capable of explaining things in more detail and look over shoulders of participants when they were working on assignments.

During the final 6 weeks of the training, the participants worked in 4 groups on a case study with a subject relevant for the Rwanda Water Resources board. Two groups worked on a WEAP-related subject and the other 2 groups worked on a subject using GEE. A final online session was held where each group had the chance to present their results.

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Official opening of the on-site training by Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Water Resources Board Niyotwambaza Hitimana Christine.

A large Dutch consortium has joined in the project “Dutch network on small spaceborne radar instruments and applications (NL-RIA)”, led by TU Delft. The objective is to bundle the radar-related knowhow available in The Netherlands, and fill the knowledge gaps, in order to boost SmallSat radar-based Earth Observation technology. The focus of the project is on microwave remote sensing.

A key advantage of microwave remote sensing compared to optimal imagery is the all-weather/day and night observation capability, which greatly enhances the observation opportunities. This includes the ability to observe through clouds. Microwave remote sensing system include passive (radiometers) and active ones (radar altimeters, Synthetic Aperture Radars, precipitation radars, scatterometers, etc). This study will focus on altimeters and thus on active radar.

Continuous monitoring of fresh water bodies like rivers, lakes and artificial reservoirs, is important for water resources management, and thus for the principal water users in river basins, such as domestic, industrial and irrigation demands. Also, potentially there can be applications of this information for flood early warning, renewable energy (hydropower) and for the transport sector (shipping).

For the management of fresh water resources at the basin level, information on the status of surface water bodies is critical. In many areas in the world however, this information is scarce. Especially in developing countries, water level measurements of lakes and reservoirs are hardly available. In Europe, ground-based measurements are more common but sometimes performed by the entity operating the reservoir or river abstraction, and thus not available to water resources managers for the purpose of water resources planning. Also in transboundary (international) river basins, ground-based information is often not shared, so satellite-based information can be of high value for certain end-users (Zhang et al., 2014).

Altimeter measurements of rivers, lakes and artificial reservoirs and be used for two purposes:

  • Strategic planning of water resources, which requires water resources assessments to support for example river basin management plans
  • Operational management of water resources, for example for the hour-by-hour operational management of water release from reservoirs for hydropower.

The study performed by FutureWater focused on the first type of applications: strategic planning and decision making on the long-term. Especially for this purpose, satellite-based altimeter data has the potential to fill an important information gap. For the second type of applications: operational water management and short-term decision making, typically ground-level water level sensors are more cost-effective than satellite-based solutions.

Key results

From the analysis performed by FutureWater and based on literature review, the following key considerations are proposed for shaping a low-cost altimetry mission useful for assessing inland water bodies and water resources planning:

  • Altimetry information can be extremely useful for complex systems as for example swamps, where data on surface water levels and flows are scarce, as often the case in developing countries. Altimetry data can support the management and conservation of these systems that provide key ecosystem services for people and the environment.
  • To build hydrological models for water resources assessments, historic data is required to calibrate and validate the tools. To capture the variability in water resources systems and thus perform a successful validation, a period of around 10 years of altimetry data is recommendable.
  • A revisit frequency of 1 month is typically sufficient for water resources assessments. Higher frequencies are normally not necessary as they may only lead to minor improvements in the performance of the modeling tools. Lower frequencies (e.g. two months) are not sufficient to capture the seasonal pattern adequately.
  • The required accuracy is highly dependent on the characteristics of the water body and is a function principally of the annual dynamics in storage, and the depth-storage relationship. In case study I, with a very large but shallow water body, an accuracy of approx. 10 cm was considered necessary. For case study II, with a smaller and deeper water body, it was found that up to an error of 180 cm the performance of the model was not significantly affected.
  • The accuracy requirement can possibly also be expressed as a percentage of the annual variability in water levels, of a particular water body of interest. For example:
    • In case study I, annual increases of approximately 1 m are common. The accuracy requirement is approximately 10% of this (10 cm)
    • In case study II, water level increases or decreases within a year of around 15 m are possible. Also here, the accuracy requirement is in the order of 10-15% of this annual variability.
  • Finally it has to be noted, that the usefulness of the altimetry data is also dependent on the availability and quality of other datasets necessary for the hydrological modeling. These datasets are primarily the depth-volume relationship, ideally from in-situ measurements but possibly extracted from satellite data (Duan and Bastiaanssen, 2013b); as well as discharge data upstream or downstream of the water body. Without these data sources it is not possible to establish a reliable water balance of the water body.

This course on hydrology and water allocation modelling is organized for the Kenya Water Resources Authority (WRA) and funded by the Blue Deal program of the Netherlands. The first four-week course block introduces the participants to the main concepts in hydrology, hydrological modelling and data collection, including remote sensing. Exercises are provided on water balances, land use datasets, extraction of rainfall data from remote sensing datasets, among others.

The 5-week second block of the training is on the use of a water resources system model (WEAP) for water allocation. Participants will learn how to develop, run and evaluate a model, including scenario analysis, water balances, assess impact of changing priorities among users, and impacts on water shortage. The learned skills will be used afterwards for establishing a Water Allocation Plan for an important sub-basin of the Upper Tana river, providing water to many livelihoods in the catchment itself, but also to Nairobi city.

We are pleased to announce that we have successfully hosted our first online webinar on our new Tailor Made Training for the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) on Water Allocation Modeling and Remote Sensing Analysis. We will teach about 20 participants of the RWB how to work with the Water Evaluation And Planning model WEAP and the Remote Sensing platform of Google Earth Engine (GEE), state of the art technologies that are excellent for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The training aims at building and enhancing capabilities of the participants in environmental and hydrological monitoring and modeling and is funded by the Orange Knowledge Program of Nuffic. It will yield the participants with valuable and necessary knowledge on IWRM. The training will provide the participants with relevant hands-on experience and cutting-edge knowledge on innovative solutions in water allocation modeling and earth observation technologies and apply this to for example:

  • Assess the supply and demand of water for different stakeholders in Rwanda;
  • Assess measures to increase water efficiency in agriculture;
  • Asses the water balance of specific areas or in specific periods;
  • Asses flood extents;
  • and more.

The training will be an online training using our eLearning platform FutureWater Moodle School, given the uncertain situation caused by COVID-19.

Screenshot of the first online meeting on Tuesday 13th of October 2020.

 

FutureWater and IDOM have successfully started a new project in Panama to support the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) with the challenges of the future such as regional development and climate change in the Panama Canal River Basin. 

To meet the challenges of regional development and climate change that the Panama Canal river basin faces, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has launched the preparation of a land use plan. For this plan, a roadmap will be established (Green Pathway 2050) that should secure water for the population, sustains socio-economic development, enables reliable operations of the Panama Canal, and preserves the ecosystem services of the basin.

The technical cooperation offered through this project will allow the ACP and the IADB to design an intervention implementation program at the strategic and project level to promote the sustainable development of the river basin.

The project is executed in 4 phases (see Figure 1):

  1. Diagnosis: sectoral and comprehensive characterization of the current river basin and regional planning
  2. Prospects: a robust decision making methodology will be applied to quantify the vulnerability of the current and possible future states of the system, considering climate change, socio-economic development scenarios and climate adaptation.
  3. Strategy development: the so-called “Green Pathway 2050” will be developed together with stakeholders, including priority actions, mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  4. Land Use Plan: the plan will address the implementation aspects related to regional zoning, pre-feasibility studies, and a monitoring and evaluation program
Figure 1. Phases of the Project “Formulation of the Land Use Plan for the Panama Canal river basin”.

FutureWater is responsible for assessing, in collaboration with stakeholders, realistic land use scenarios considering the uncertainties imposed by climate change and non-climate factors. A Robust Decision Making (RDM) approach will be applied for this purpose. The work will include the development of a supply-demand model using the WEAP tool and a technical training of ACP staff. Climate change vulnerabilities will be assessed through a bottom-up approach, including stakeholders´inputs from the start of the analysis. The climate change-uncertainties of the land use scenarios will be visualized to stakeholders and a realistic sub-set of scenarios, including adaptation options, will be produced.

To meet the challenges of regional development and climate change that the Panama Canal river basin faces, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has launched the preparation of a land use plan. For this plan, a roadmap will be established (Green Pathway 2050) that should secure water for the population, sustains socio-economic development, enables reliable operations of the Panama Canal, and preserves the ecosystem services of the basin.

The technical cooperation offered through this project will allow the ACP and the IADB to design an intervention implementation program at the strategic and project level to promote the sustainable development of the river basin.

The project is executed in 4 phases (see Figure 1):

  1. Diagnosis: sectoral and comprehensive characterization of the current river basin and regional planning
  2. Prospects: a robust decision making methodology will be applied to quantify the vulnerability of the current and possible future states of the system, considering climate change, socio-economic development scenarios and climate adaptation.
  3. Strategy development: the so-called “Green Pathway 2050” will be developed together with stakeholders, including priority actions, mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  4. Land Use Plan: the plan will address the implementation aspects related to regional zoning, pre-feasibility studies, and a monitoring and evaluation program
Figure 1. Phases of the Project “Formulation of the Land Use Plan for the Panama Canal river basin”.

FutureWater is responsible for assessing, in collaboration with stakeholders, realistic land use scenarios considering the uncertainties imposed by climate change and non-climate factors. A Robust Decision Making (RDM) approach will be applied for this purpose. The work will include the development of a supply-demand model using the WEAP tool and a technical training of ACP staff. Climate change vulnerabilities will be assessed through a bottom-up approach, including stakeholders´inputs from the start of the analysis. The climate change-uncertainties of the land use scenarios will be visualized to stakeholders and a realistic sub-set of scenarios, including adaptation options, will be produced.

Please visit this website for more information about the project: https://piota-panama-cyt.hub.arcgis.com/

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a UNESCO-declared Biosphere Reserve, is an isolated mountain complex encompassing approximately 17,000 km², set apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. The Sierra Nevada has the world’s highest coastal peak (5,775 m above sea level) just 42 kilometres from the Caribbean coast. The Sierra Nevada is the source of 36 basins, making it the major regional ‘water factory’ supplying 1.5 million inhabitants as well as vast farming areas in the surrounding plains used mainly for the cultivation of banana and oil palm. The main problems to be solved in these basins are: i) Declining availability of water for irrigation, ii) Declining availability and quality of water for human consumption, iii) Increasing salinization of ground water and soils, iv) Increasing incidence of floods.

This is a feasibility study on the adoption of more efficient irrigation techniques by oil palm farmers in the Sevilla basin (713 km²), one of the key basins in the Sierra Nevada. The general objective is to identify the local environment at basin scale, the limiting factors and suitable field interventions in oil palm areas to improve the water use. A preparation and implementation phase was developed including an initial baseline assessment of the basin on climate, water availability, drought hazard, soil characteristics, land use, and topography. The agronomy (e.g. cultivars) and current field practices (e.g. nutrient management and irrigation practices) of the oil palm areas were characterized, and the crop water requirements determined. In addition, costs and benefits associated to the implementation of efficient irrigation technologies such as fertigation and water harvesting were assessed. Potential locations, risks and opportunities for water harvesting were evaluated with the idea to store water in the wet season to be able to use the resource in an efficient way in the dry season. A range of GIS and satellite-based datasets (e.g. CHIRPS, MODIS-ET, MODIS-NDVI, HiHydroSoil) were used to evaluate the environmental conditions, and local data and information was provided by local partners Cenipalma and Solidaridad to generate a comprehensive assessment at basin and field scale. The expectation is that fertigation and water harvesting techniques can be adopted in the Sevilla basin, but also in other basins in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to reduce the environmental impact of oil palm production.

This month, FutureWater has published an article in the International Water Power & Dam Construction Magazine focusing on the business case for small hydropower (small facilities without significant storage dams) to invest in catchment protection based hydropower. The hydropower sector is showing increasing interest in revenue sharing schemes that promote improved catchment protection activities. 

The article is based on two case studies in Kenya and Tanzania where FutureWater assessed the impacts of various investment portfolios for catchment management activities on the cost-benefits of small hydropower schemes and analyzed the return-on-investment for the hydropower developers. Modeling and satellite data analysis were used, considering climate change and land degradation impacts among others, as input for the return-on-investment analysis.

Interested in the article? Download it here!