Irsa gets software for equitable water sharing


The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Tuesday formally took over the Water Accord Apportionment Tool (WAA-Tool) to ensure a precise and trustworthy mechanism for seasonal planning and water sharing among the provinces.

The software tool was developed over a period of two years by the Comm­on­wealth Scientific and Ind­ustrial Research Organi­sation (CSIRO) at the joint request of the Ministry of Water Resources, Irsa, Wat­er and Power Development Authority (Wapda), provincial irrigation departments (PIDs) and the Australian government.

The tool has already been tested over the past two seasons. Irsa has, however, reques­ted the Australian government and CSIRO to further enhance the tool to accommodate the mid-season review process, if possible.

The software, according to Irsa, is capable of supporting the water regulator, PIDs and Wapda to have their seasonal water planning as it captures undocumented procedures in a repeatable process, provides transparency and consistency in seasonal water allocation and enables more equitable and efficient sharing of water resources.

Water Accord Apportionment Tool successfully tested and used for two crop seasons

It can provide capability to explore alternative system operational rules, bring in more transparency, efficiency and equity in water sharing and quantify impacts of different interpretations.

The water regulator said the software would help stakeholders explore the impacts of different inflow forecasts, reduced storages and climate change on provincial sharing and provide platform to support training of federal and provincial water agencies’ staff, academics, scientists and students.

The development of the tool is in line with the requirements of the National Water Policy (NWP). Para 2.9 of the NWP demands upgrade of water sector information systems for improved asset management as well as evidence and data-driven decision-making. Para 22.1 of the policy demands improvement in national information base by developing a national planning database to support an integrated information system in order to enable the planning and development of water and other related resources on a sustainable basis.

The tool captures the complete 10-day allocation process as proposed by all stakeholders. The process was agreed between the stakeholders and encoded in WAA-Tool. The tool has been successfully tested and used for Kharif 2020 and Rabi 2020-21.

“WAA-Tool is now the tool of choice for Pakistani water agencies for seasonal planning and allocation of river water,” Irsa said, adding that it forecasts rim-station inflows and performs system operation by running the reservoirs on set rules, routing flows in the river network with accompanying losses, gains, etc.

It has the capability to allocate water among the provinces on different sharing options and releasing excess water downstream Kotri, when available. It follows the same statistical and analytical techniques as manually adopted by Irsa, thus saving a lot of time by calculating an alternative system operation in a matter of seconds.

With this ease of fast computing, the tool has the capacity to calculate and present different system operation scenarios. The tool’s calculations for anticipated criteria for Rabi 2020-21 matched exactly with the assessments of Irsa and the shortage predicted by the tool was also 10 per cent.

The tool interface adopts a modern web-style one. While the first release is designed to run on desktop computers, it can be enhanced to run on a central server or in the cloud. It replicates the entire water allocation process, allows discussion on alternate sharing options like reservoir storage carry forward and provides better data management, while less experienced stakeholders can understand the allocation process quickly to help build consensus among the provinces.

Parameter settings, such as reservoir fill rates, can be easily changed to trial possible and potential combinations of climates, inflows and reservoir management. Results are stored using a database management system that guarantees its integrity.

Since 1;991, water resources in the Indus River System have been shared among the four provinces according to the Water Apportionment Accord 1991 which describes broad water-sharing principles but not the precise mechanism of how these principles are to be executed in the seasonal planning process.


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