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1.1 Hydrology

Hydrology is the study of the occurrence and distribution of natural waters of the earth. It refers to the availability in terms of quantity and quality. It is a physical science that deals with the movement of water from the sea to the atmosphere by evaporation, the transport of water vapour by wind, the precipitation on land and the subsequent movement, storage and retention of that water in surface channels, in the soil, in the saturated zone beneath the soil and the transfer of the water between the phases and its eventual disposal by rivers to the sea or by evaporation from the earth, the leaves of vegetation or open water surfaces. The sun provides radiant energy and is the main driving force of the hydrological cycle. Its components differ in different parts of the earth according to the radiation received, the manner in which water is conveyed by atmospheric movement and precipitated. It is influenced by the vegetation, the soil, the geological and topographic structure of the earth on which precipitation occurs.

In the broad sense Hydrology has many components and would include the movement of water into and from the atmosphere but these processes are considered to be within the domain of meteorology, climatology and soil science. The influence of vegetation falls within the domain of botany.

In the more narrow sense, Hydrology deals with the movement of water from its precipitation on the

earth to its return to the sea as river discharge or to the atmosphere as evaporation. It deals with the movement of water on the surface, in sheet flow and in open channels, infiltration to and the retention in the soil, movement within the soil and into the zone of saturation, groundwater storage, the vegetation-soil moisture relationship as it affects water movement and movement within the zone of saturation to wells and stream channels that penetrate the zone. The areas of study in hydrology include precipitation, infiltration, percolation, surface runoff, groundwater flow and evaporation. Engineering Hydrology is the study of these aspects of hydrology, which are relevant to the solution of engineering problems in the control and utilization of water. It implies a method of study or analysis, which is designed to answer in a qualitative manner questions in an engineering context. Such problems arise usually in;


Forecasting or the estimation ‘when?’ some hydrological event will occur: Operations


Frequency Prediction or the estimation of ‘how often?’ an event will occur: Design

Problems of the first category arise most directly in the operation of hydrological controls like the opening of sluice gates in anticipation of a flood wave or the evacuation of a population of a town threatened by rising floods. Problems of the second category are associated with design like the frequency of occurrence of a critical water level in a reservoir or the critical flow over a spillway.

The term ‘Forecasting’ is usually applied in the context of Deterministic Models. In this case the input data determines the output uniquely as a function of time not merely as a frequency distribution. A unit hydrograph is an example, because for a particular amount of rainfall the discharge is determined even though it may be subject to error in comparison to the actual discharge hydrograph.

‘Frequency prediction’ deals with Stochastic Models. In this case the output is given in a probabilistic manner. For instance, any statement about the maximum flood that could occur in a river during a fifty year period is a stochastic one (Nash, 1983).

1.2 Water Resources Engineering

Water Resources Engineering is the study of the occurrence of water in nature with the purpose of putting it to the beneficial use of man. A resource is a total sum of goods and services that will be used to improve and sustain the standard of living. All resources go into nature through cycles. The


speed with which transformation of these resources occurs dictates as to whether they are renewable or non renewable.

The development of water resources requires: the conception, planning, design, construction and operation of facilities to control and utilize water. This is basically a function of Civil Engineers or Water Resources Engineers, but the services of other specialists are required. These include social scientists, economists, politicians, chemists, biologists and other specialists. Each water development project encounters a unique set of physical conditions in terms of availability of water and demand and standard designs are rarely used.

Water is controlled, utilized and regulated (Linsley and Franzini, 1979) to serve a variety of purposes as indicated below:

I) Control of water is achieved so that water will not cause excessive damage to property, inconveniences to the public or loss of life. Some of the applications in water resources engineering are flood mitigation, land drainage, sewerage and highway culvert design.

II) Utilization of Water for Beneficial Purposes - This may be achieved through water supply projects, irrigation, hydroelectric power development and navigation improvements.

III) Water Quality Management – Pollution threatens the utility of water for municipal and irrigation uses and threatens the aesthetic value of water resources. Water quality management is an important phase. Non structural methods such as zoning for flood mitigation and preservation of natural beauty as in the case of an underground power station at Murchison falls are factors which the water resources engineer must consider.

Quantity of Water In simple terms the job of the water resources engineer is reduced to a number of basic questions. Since water resource projects are for the control or use of water the first question is ‘How much water is needed?’ This is one of the most difficult design problems because it involves social economic and engineering aspects as well. Almost all projects designs depend on the answer to the question.

‘How much water can be expected?’ Peak rates of flow are the basis of design of projects to control excess water, while volume of flow during longer periods is of interest in designing projects for use of water e.g. water supply, irrigation. The answers to this question can be found through the application of Hydrological Techniques in the study of the occurrence and distribution of natural waters of the earth.

The water flowing in a natural stream is not necessarily available for use by any person or group deserving it. The right to use water is of significance especially in regions where water is scarce. Like other things of value, water rights are protected by law and the legal answer to the question, ‘who may use this water?’ may be required before the quantities of available water can be evaluated.

The diversion of natural stream flow, which may cause property damage and alterations in natural flow conditions, is governed by legal restrictions, which should be investigated before completion of the project design. In Uganda, a Water Act provides the legal framework for the use of water and since Uganda is one of the Nile River Riparian countries, it is bound by the River Nile treaties signed in the 19 th and 20 th Centuries.

1.2.2 Water Quality

Once the adequacy in terms of quantity, has been ascertained, water must withstand certain tests of


Problems of water quality are encountered in planning water supply and irrigation projects


and in the disposal of waste water. For instance, in Kampala City, the sewerage works, the breweries and the leather industries pollute the Murchison Bay on Lake Victoria. Polluted streams affect fish and wildlife and are unsuitable for the recreation and may be slightly malodorous or unsightly.

Chemical and bacteriological tests are employed to determine the amount and characters of the impurities in water. Agronomists and physiologists must evaluate the effect of these impurities on crops or human consumers. The engineer must then provide the necessary facilities for removing impurities from water by mechanical, chemical or bacteriological methods.

In Uganda, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is the Government Authority,

responsible for regulating the disposal of wastes to safeguard our waters against pollution.


a major investment like the construction of a factory, irrigation scheme, or hydropower scheme, it


mandatory that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is done, before any planning or

implementation authority may be granted.

1.3 The Current Use of Water

Today’s water crisis is widespread, and continuing with current policies for managing water will only widen and deepen that crisis.

During the 20 th century, the world population tripled-while water use for human purposes multiplied six fold! (Lindqvist et al, 1997). The most obvious uses of water for people are drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, and for some, watering food plots. This domestic water use, though crucial, is only a small part of the total. Worldwide, industry uses nearly double the amount of water as compared to households, mainly for cooling in the production of electricity. Far more water is needed to produce food and fibre (cereals, fruits, meat, and cotton) and maintain the natural environment.

1.3.1 The World’s Water Resources

A key characteristic of the world’s fresh water resources is their uneven distribution in time and

space. Until recently, water resource management focused almost exclusively on redistributing water

to when and where people want it for their use. This is a supply-side (engineering) approach. But

there are many signs that water is running out-or getting a lot less plentiful in more places as populations and per capita water use grow-and damaging ecosystems from which it is withdrawn. So,

we need to look at what water is used for and to manage these competing claims in an integrated framework.

Think of freshwater as green or blue. Green water-the rainfall that is stored in the soil and then evaporates or is incorporated in plants and organisms-is the main source of water for natural ecosystems and for rain fed agriculture, which produces 60% of the world’s food. Blue water- renewable surface water runoff and groundwater recharge-is the main source of human withdrawals and the traditional focus of water resource management.

The blue water available is about 40,000 cubic kilometers a year (Shiklomanov, 1998). Of this, an estimated 3,800 cubic kilometers, roughly 10%, were withdrawn for human uses in 1995. Of the water withdrawn, about 2,100 cubic kilometers were consumed. The remainder was returned to streams and aquifers, usually with significant reductions in quality.

Some of the water can be considered as renewable water resources, even though people use only a small fraction of these resources globally, this fraction is much higher-up to 80-90%- in mainly arid and semi arid river basins where water is scarce. Also in many tropical basins, a large amount of water is available on average over the year, but its unequal temporal distribution means that it is not


usable or that massive infrastructure is required to protect people from it and to store it for later use, with considerable social and environmental impacts. An example of this is the Runde catchment in Zimbabwe, where there is spatio-temporal variability, inter annual and inter monthly variability (Mugabe et al, 2007).

The (Soil Water Assessment Tool - SWAT) model represents a large set of basin modeling tools such as hydrologic modeling including climate change, management of water supplies in arid regions, large scale flooding and offsite impacts of land management. This was applied to the large and complex hydro system in North West of Algeria. The results showed that the model reproduces and generates properly the climatic variables and permits correct water resources assessment in the basin (Yebri et al, 2007). The SWAT model was also applied to various catchments of the Nilotic countries with varying physiographic and climatic conditions. Input data of various types such as coarse/high resolution, measured, global internet, spatial and climate data sets were used. The results showed the model performance efficiency increased with high resolution data. In general the performance was satisfactory and thus prospects for wider applications exist (Ndombaand and Birhanu, 2008).

The performance of Nile Forecast system (NFS) hydrological component was assessed with regard to long term simulations for assessing the impact of climate change on river flow. A set of six performance criteria that measure different aspects of the monthly hydrograph (i.e. baseflow, peakflow) using data for the 1940-1999 period were considered. The results showed a variable performance, which was mainly dependent upon the quality of the data. The best performance was the Blue Nile followed by Lake Victoria. Performance was not satisfactory for the Sobat, the Equatorial lakes below Lake Victoria and the Bahr El–Jabal sub basins (Elshamy, 2008). In many temperate zone river basins, adequate water resources are relatively evenly distributed over the year, but they are used so intensively that surface and groundwater resources become polluted and good-quality water becomes scarce.

In most African countries there is a gap between national water policies and water services. These will undoubtedly increase the challenge to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and based on a study of the good practices in South Africa notes that a strong political will in policy implementation and moving resources in the right direction are necessary prerequisites for meeting the MDGs (Folifac, 2007)

Uganda is among the few fortunate countries with sizeable fresh water resources. The country’s lakes, rivers and underground aquifers are sources of drinking water, fisheries, industry, hydropower, transportation and food security.

1.3.2 Land and Water Interaction

Land use depends on easy access to fresh water. Many land uses have also impacts on rainwater partitioning at the ground level and, therefore, water quality. Environmental problems are often side effects of land-based human activities and mirror nature’s response to mismanagement of land, water and waste.

i) Manipulation of the landscape The landscape provides the natural resources on, which socio-economic development depends (water, soil fertility/biomass, energy, minerals). Man is forced to manipulate different landscape components to better fit with human needs and aspirations. Water pathways are manipulated in order to secure life support for water supply, food supply, energy supply); and soil and vegetation are manipulated to grow and harvest the biomass needed. Also, manipulations occur while protecting people from water related hazards.

ii) Side effects are unavoidable


Environmental problems are generated when land and water are manipulated physically or chemically. In the landscape there is a system continuity that emerges from the water cycle. Water- a unique solvent that is also chemically reactive is continually moving through the landscape, above and below the soil surface on its way from the water divide down to the coast or the enclosed lake where the river and ground water flows end. The disturbances generated are conveyed onwards from air to soil and terrestrial ecosystems, onwards to ground water, rivers to coastal and marine water and the ecosystem they host.

Typical side effects of human activities are related to water over-exploitation, waste production, land manipulation, mismanaged irrigation systems, etc. Such side effects are extremely widespread, and basically involve depletion and pollution, thereby reducing the resources base, creating productivity problems and reducing the options for future activities.

In Summary, most environmental problems emerge from one of three alternative origins, all related to development:

Waste handling (including human waste) involving polluting output to the atmosphere, and the water bodies

Biomass dependence, and the manipulation of soil and vegetation that is necessary both for production and for harvesting of flora and fauna

Water dependence, calling for withdrawal of water to supply society with the water needed for basic human needs (including irrigated food production) as well as other socio-economic production

In the continuous system of water flows represented by the river basin, a withdrawal of water in the upper end of a river will have repercussions on the amount of water available downstream.

There is also an interaction between vegetation and run-off, since the river is fed by the rainwater surplus left after evaporation from wet surfaces and transpiration. Therefore, intensified vegetation in agriculture and forestry might send more water back to the atmosphere, leaving less for downstream users. This is a particular problem in tropical and sub-tropical countries where the evaporative demand is especially high.

Some of the lakes and rivers in the Main Ethiopia Rift (MER) are used for irrigation, soda abstraction, commercial fish farming, recreation and support a wide variety of endemic birds and wildlife. A few lakes shrunk due to excessive abstraction; others expanded due to increased surface runoff and groundwater flux from percolated irrigation water. As a result, excessive land degradation, deforestation changed the hydro meteorological setting of the region and the chemistry of some of the lakes changed dramatically. A study revealed that the major changes in the rift valley were due to improper utilization of water and land resources in the lakes catchment and direct lake water abstraction aggravated intermittently by climate change (Ayenew, 2007).

iii) Integrated Land and Water Use

In developing a good management system it is thus essential to realize that the water passing through the landscape has a whole set of parallel functions which have to be taken into account. This multifunctional character is seldom fully realized:

The health function: access to clean water is essential for human health

The habitat function: the health of aquatic ecosystems is essential for fish/sea food supply is a major determinant of biodiversity

The religious/psychological function: gives water different key roles in religious ceremonies; and which makes closeness to water bodies, water views, fountains, etc. fundamental components of human pReferences


The two carrier functions: as carrier of solutes (including pollutants) and silt (erosion/sedimentation), water is active in generating environmental problems by its erosive and leaching capacities plus the cascading of disturbances that follows from its mobility in the global water cycle

The two productive functions: a) biomass production essential for the supply of food, fuel wood and timber (water consumed both as raw material in photosynthesis, and as a column of water moving through the plant, in through the roots and out through the foliage); b) societal production, since industrial development has traditionally been lubricated by easy access to water.

A necessary condition for a certain human development to be sustainable is that parallel attention be

paid to the different functions of water, and the consequences of one type of use on other water-

dependent activities and values in the same catchment.

Particularly in the dry tropics, a more adequate approach to water would be to take an integrated approach, seeing precipitation as the original water resource. There is a distinction between the ‘green’ water in the root zone, involved in rain-fed plant production and the ‘blue’ water in rivers and groundwater aquifers, involved in other socio-economic production. With this distinction, the water functions discussed above can be grouped in functions related to:

‘blue-water based production’ i.e. health function, socio-economic production function (industry, irrigation), and habitat function (fishery, recreation, wildlife)

‘green-water based production’, i.e. rain-fed agriculture and in situ biomass production (forestry, natural vegetation)

destructive capability of water, i.e. carrier function of silts causing erosion/sedimentation, and solutes causing water quality changes.


Water for Human Activities

Globally, withdrawals for irrigation are nearly 70% of the total withdrawn for human uses- 2,500 of 3,800 cubic kilometers. Withdrawals for industries are about 20% and those for municipal use are about 10%.

1.3.4 Agriculture and Rural Development

A key ingredient in the green revolution, irrigation raises agricultural productivity-particularly Asia,

which contains about 70% of the world’s irrigated area. Irrigation consumes a large share of the water withdrawn through evaporation from reservoirs, canals, and soil and through incorporation into the transpiration by crops. Depending on the technology, consumption can range from 30-40% for

flood irrigation to 90% for drip irrigation. The rest recharges groundwater or contributes to drainage

or return flows. This water can be-and often is- reused, but it has higher salt concentrations and is

often contaminated with nutrients, sediments, and chemical contaminants (pesticides, herbicides) that can damage the ecosystem.

Urban and Peri-urban agriculture has a significant share of food supply in many cities in sub Saharan Africa as it supports nontraditional urban diets , particularly with perishable vegetables, fresh milk and poultry products. It also contributes to employment, livelihoods and poverty alleviation. This type of agriculture is largely dependent upon irrigated water. As urban or peri-urban sources are often polluted, vegetable contamination is common and limits the official recognition of this informal sector (Cofie and Drechsel, 2007).

Spate irrigation is a unique type of water management technique that is characteristic of semi arid climates, whereby floods are diverted from ephemeral rivers to cultivate subsistence and even cash crops. A good example of this is in Eritrea, where the traditional Bada system, which spells out the rules and operations has worked well so far. The challenge is to improve the reconstruction and


maintenance and how to distribute water in the face of uncertainties and iniquities inherent (Ghebremariam and Van Steenbergen, 2007).

Unless properly managed, irrigated areas risk becoming waterlogged and building up salt concentrations that could eventually make the soil infertile. This process probably caused the downfall of ancient irrigation-based societies and threatens the enormous areas brought under irrigation in recent decades. By the late 1980s an estimated 50 million hectares of the world’s irrigated areas had suffered a buildup of salts in the soil.

1.3.5 Domestic and Industrial Consumption

A large share of the water withdrawn by households, services, and industry-up to 90% in areas where

total use is high-is returned as wastewater, but often in such a degraded state that major cleanups are required before it can be reused. The amounts for personal use (drinking, cooking, bathing) are

relatively small compared with other uses. And in developed countries the water fit to drink is mostly used to flush toilets, water lawns, and wash dishes, clothes and cars.

The real problem of drinking water and sanitation in developing countries is that too many people lack access to safe and affordable water supplies and sanitation. The World Health Report 1999 (WHO, 1999) estimates that water-related diseases caused 3.4 million deaths in 1998, more than half of them children. Other estimates are even higher, particularly for diarrhea. This shows that more people have gained access to safe drinking water since 1998 than ever before. However, it also shows that fewer people have adequate sanitation than safe, water and the global provision of sanitation is not keeping up with population growth.

Inadequate collection, treatment, and disposal of household and industrial wastewater is not just a health hazard for humans, it also pollutes aquatic ecosystems-sometimes with disastrous results. Large numbers of women and men have got better sanitation in the 1990s to overcome this problem. New designs and low cost technologies have significantly expanded the options to peri-urban and rural communities.

In addition to the three big water users-agriculture, industry, and municipalities-water resources provide a range of other services, such as navigation or recreation and tourism. Water transport is experiencing substantial growth on a global scale, even as its importance has diminished in Europe and North America. Population growth and the opening of economies to the world market are leading

to increasing inland navigation in Brazil, China, Venezuela and Russia will probably be a leader in

this expansion.

1.4 Water Resources Planning

Water resources projects are usually classified on the basis of their objectives (Arora 2007, Soni and Duggal, 2007). They can be either a single purpose project or a multipurpose project. A single purpose project is designed and operated to serve only one basic purpose. A multipurpose project is designed and operated to serve more than one purpose. Many of the major more recent water resources projects are multipurpose for instance, the Three Gorges Project, the High Aswan Dam and the Lesotho Highlands Project.

The planning of a water resources project involves systematic consideration of the original statement

of purpose, evaluation of alternatives and the selection of the preferred alternative. The planning of a

single purpose project is easier than for a multipurpose one, furthermore, the planning of a river basin

consisting of a number of projects is even more challenging, because what is done at one site, affects other projects within the basin.


The planning of a water resources project generally consists of the following: i) Statement of Objectives ii) Data Collection, iii) Future Projections, iv) Project Formulation v) Project Evaluation, vi) Environmental Considerations

i) Statement of Objectives The objectives should be based on the need of the region and they vary depending on the agency planning the project. The needs and rights of adjoining states should be considered since most of the large projects are shared by two or more states.


ii) Collection of Data

For realistic and accurate planning, it is essential that the data is reliable. A thorough survey is conducted to collect the data. Current data is collected at the start of the planning period. Hydrological data, however, is historical in nature, the greater the period of record, the more reliable the data should be. The data can be divided into two categories; general and specific data.

a. General data

This includes physical, hydrological, geological, cartographic, ecological, demographic, economic,

legal, data on existing projects, data on public opinion. Physical: location, size, physiography, climate history, population Hydrolological: Precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, streamflow, sediment, water quality Geological: rock and soil type, groundwater, seepage, minerals, erosion Cartographic: topographic and other maps Ecological: type of vegetation, fish and wildlife Demographic: population statistics in various locations and institutions Economic: various industries, means of transportation, market, tourism, recreation, land taxes Legal: Water rights, population control, land zoning, land ownership, administrative patterns Data on existing projects: types and locations of existing projects. Data on public opinion: Opinions of different stakeholders.

b. Specific data

This includes data for agriculture, municipal water supply, hydropower, flood control, navigation, recreation, pollution control, fish and wild life data. Agriculture: land classification cropwater requirements, climatic data, types of crops, per capita demand for animals. Water supply: per capita demand, industrial requirements, quality of water. Hydropower: average power demand, peaking requirements, alternative sources of energy. Flood control: record of past floods, extent of damage caused, stormwater drainage requirements Navigation: water traffic patterns, alternative means of transport Recreation: existing facilities, natural attractions, scenic beauty and wildlife Pollution control: existing waste discharge methods, location, time and character of waste, water pollution regulations, quality standards. Fish and wildlife: Type of fish and wildlife, their migratory habits, protection requirements

iii) Future Projections

All water-resources development projects are usually planned to meet not only the present needs but also future needs depending on the life of the project. The projections should not be made as a simple extrapolation of the past growth rate. Social, economic and technological developments of the region may cause significant changes in trends, and therefore, future growth may be different from past


Projections should include the study of future population growth, land use water requirements for various uses, likely changes in patterns among others.

iv) Project Formulation

Actual formulation of the project is commenced after the basic data has been collected and the projections have been made. A list of various alternatives is made and all these alternatives are properly evaluated. The alternatives which have restrains and boundary conditions are evaluated first.

As the evaluation of alternatives is carried out, all the alternative uses for water should be considered. Various possibilities of control and delivery of water should be explored. The land-use plans influence the water requirements and may act as a guide for the selection of the project units, which have some



Preliminary estimates of the possible project units are made. The detailed cost estimates are not required at this stage, because many units may prove to be uneconomical and impracticable for adoption and may be discarded.

v) Project Evaluation This is carried out to select the alternative, which is economically most suitable of the various alternatives listed. It should meet the laid down economic criteria such as the minimum expected benefit-cost ratio. The best alternative may consist of a unit or a combination of units, which are economically most efficient. For the economic evaluation, data on benefits and costs are collected. Each alternative should be specified in detail so that costs can be accurately estimated. For selecting the most efficient unit, the first step is to find out whether, the individual units are physically and economically independent or not.

a. A physically independent unit has no other unit either upstream or downstream, which would affect the inflow to the unit or which would be affected by the outflow from the unit.

b. An economically independent unit is one in which there is no economic inter-connection with any other unit.

After the selection of the preferred alternative, detailed designs are made including environmental considerations. Once these are completed implementation can begin. A more detailed process is given in Section 9.1.

1.5 Environmental Effects

Freshwater ecosystems have been declining in some parts of the world for hundreds of years- threatening the economic, social, and environmental security of human society and terrestrial


1.5.1 Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems are integral parts of the water cycle. Their protection requires careful management of the entire ecosystem. For freshwater ecosystems, this implies integrated planning and management of all land and water use activities in the basin, from headwater forests to coastal deltas.

Freshwater biodiversity is high relative to the limited portion of the earth’s surface covered by freshwater. Freshwater fish, for example make up 40% of all fish, and freshwater mollusks make up 20% of all mollusks. Worldwide, the number of freshwater species is estimated to be between 9,000 and 25,000.

1.5.2 Surface and Groundwater Quality

Rapidly growing cities, burgeoning industries, and rapidly rising use of chemicals in agriculture have undermined the quality of many rivers, lakes, and aquifers. The industrial revolution turned the Thames into a sinking, black health hazard as it run through London in the late 19 th century. Major investments in wastewater treatment and cleaner production have gradually restored its recreational and environmental value.

The impacts of agriculture on water quality are less visible but over time can be harmful because many of the fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides used to boost agricultural productivity slowly accumulate in groundwater aquifers and natural ecosystems. Their impact on health may become clear only decades after their use, but their more immediate impact, through eutrophication, is on ecosystems. These problems accumulate in fresh and saltwater bodies, such as the Baltic and Black



Groundwater, the preferred source of drinking water for most people in the world, is also being polluted, particularly through industrial activities in urban areas and agricultural chemicals and fertilizers in rural area. The difficulty and cost of cleaning up groundwater resources, once polluted, make the accumulation of pollutants in aquifers particularly hazardous.

In Uganda, over the past two decades, the water quality has been steadily deteriorating as a result of

mainly anthropogenic factors.

1.5.3 Floods and Droughts

A key characteristic of water is its extreme events: floods and droughts. Floods sometimes provide

benefits in a natural system, and some ecosystems depend on them. Moreover, some people rely on

floods for irrigation and fertilization. But floods are better known for their devastation of human lives and infrastructure. Internationally, floods pose one of the most widely distributed natural risks to life; other natural hazards such as avalanches, landslides, and earthquakes are more regional. Between 1973 and 1997, an average of 66 million people a year suffered flood damage. This makes flooding the most damaging of all natural disasters. Water scarcity is increasingly being perceived as the limiting factor for both agriculture and industry

in many developing countries; as the most probable source of conflict between countries over a

renewable natural resource; and a source of increasing competition between rural agricultural areas and the urban industrial sector. Managing water scarcity by definition entails dealing with scarcity

with intention of overcoming it, either by supply-side increases or demand-side regulation. Compared

to other Nile Basin countries, Uganda is one of the least water stressed countries due to its good social

adaptive capacity which limits the social water stress.

1.5.4 Climate Change in Africa

Climate change is real and happening now. The average global surface temperature has warmed 0.8°C

in the past century and 0.6°C in the past three decades, and human activities have been blamed as the

cause of these changes (IPCC, 2001). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that if greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of climate change, continue to rise, the mean global temperatures will increase 1.4 – 5.8°C by the end of the 21 st Century (IPCC, 2001). Changes in climate change such as rises in temperature and changes in precipitation amounts and patterns have affected many of our natural resources, ecosystems, biodiversity and people. Some of the clear effects of climate change are:

Rises in sea level which poses a potential risk of flooding coastal areas

Reduction in availability of water

Melting of ice glaciers

More intense and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and prolonged droughts

Reduction of river flows and lake levels

Increase in disease incidences as a result of rises in temperature

Climate change is expected to significantly alter African biodiversity as species struggle to adapt to changing conditions


general, any watershed for which a hydrological model has been developed can be assessed for

climate change impacts through scenario simulations. Global circulation models (GCMs) are generally used to simulate the present climate and future climate scenarios with forcing by green house gases (Dibike et al. 2004). In sub-Saharan Africa, rainfed agriculture accounts for 70% of the employment and is especially vulnerable to climate change impacts on hydrology. Global warming is predicted to cause more frequent and severe droughts that will destroy crops on marginal agricultural land and place additional stress on limited freshwater resources and its infrastructure. Drought prone areas are likely to increase

in extent. Heavy precipitation events which are likely to increase in frequency will increase flood

risks, leading to water pollution and therefore increased health risks. Consequently access to clean water remains one of our greater challenges for sustainable development (Gwage and Kabasa, 2008; Ogallo, 2008).


Future impacts are projected to worsen as the temperature continues to rise and as precipitation becomes more unpredictable. African countries are projected by the IPCC to be most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is because they lack economic development and institutional capacities to deal with these effects (IPCC, 2001). The negative impacts associated with climate change are also compounded by many factors, including widespread poverty, human diseases, and high population density, which is estimated to double the demand for food, water, and livestock forage within the next 30 years (Davidson et al. 2003).

1.5.5 Climate Change Adaptation

According to (Janneh, 2007) Africa contributes only 3.8% of total greenhouse gas emission; these countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change in the world, because:

i. The geographical location of many countries is characterised by already warmer climate, marginal areas that are more exposed to rainfall variability, poor soils and flood plains.

ii. The economies of most African countries rely heavily on climate sensitive sectors such as rain- fed agriculture, fisheries, natural resources and tourism.

iii. The continent is plagued by inadequate ability to respond to direct and indirect effects of

climate change, because of widespread poverty, poor economic and social infrastructure, conflicts and limited human institutional and financial capacities. Based on the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) and the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change (2006), suggested are the current and projected impacts on Africa’s development:

- Increased water stress and water related conflicts: water levels have decreased seriously in major lakes like Lake Victoria, Rift Valley lakes and Lake Chad (which lost over 90% of its waters between 1973 and 2002) and rivers.

- Constrained agricultural production and increasing food insecurity: climate change is expected to severely compromise agricultural production and food security. For instance climate change modelling results of the IPCC indicate that warming of by another 0.4% of current temperatures,would result in a shortening of the crop growing period by more than 20% and a reduction in yields of up to 50% in many African countries. More frequent droughts, floods and extreme weather conditions would exacerbate the constraints on crop and livestock production systems.

- Increased energy constraints: Both the reduction in water to major dams and worsening depletion of biomass energy resources resulting from climate change could seriously compound the current energy access and availability, which would further impede industrial development.

Other areas of projected impact of climate change are: rising area level, degrading livelihoods and

environment in coastal areas, loss of biodiversity, forests and other habitat, expanding range and prevalence of vector bone diseases and increased risks of conflict related to population migrations. Adaptation challenges include institutional, knowledge, technological and financing.


Institutional includes the human and technical capacity and legal and regulatory frameworks.


Knowledge includes the lack of reliable climate data and forecasts and limited awareness on best practices among stakeholders, the private sector and farmer.


Technological refers to poor access to clean and efficient technologies and inadequate investments in agricultural, water and energy innovation transfer and deployment.


Financing refers to the limited availability of domestic financing and support from Development Partners.


The Future Challenges

The Water Vision for the 21 st Century is an expression of a desirable future, based on an exploration of water futures (Raskin et al. 1997). Given the wide range of uncertainties affecting the water futures, there is also a wide range in possible uses and stress. Real solutions to water problems require


an integrated approach to water resource management. Crucial issues that may provide levers for very different futures include:


Expanding irrigated agriculture; will the rate of expansion of irrigated agriculture continue as in recent decades?


Increasing water productivity; can there be improvement rates in water use efficiency? How can technological and institutional innovations be stimulated to improve these rates? Can water productivity for rain fed agriculture be accelerated?


Developing biotechnology for agriculture; will genetically modified crops gain public acceptance in Europe and developing countries?


Increasing storage: can the recharge to aquifers used for irrigation be drastically increased to prevent groundwater crisis-without major environmental impacts? Will there be increasing or decreasing public opposition to large dams in developing countries?


Reforming water resource management institutions: will governments implement policies to charge the full cost of water services? Will current trends towards decentralization empower communities to select their own level of water services?


Valuing ecosystem functions: will wetlands continue to be claimed for agriculture and urban uses at current rates? Will wetlands receive enough water of good quality to maintain their biodiversity?


Increasing cooperation in international basins: will countries recognize the need to cooperate as scarcity in international basins increases?

viii. Supporting innovation: will the public sector increase research funds to foster innovation on public goods aspects of the water sector-such as ecosystem values and functions, food crop biotechnology, and water resource institutions?

1.6.1 Projected Water Use and Water Stress In 2025

Because of population growth, between 2000 and 2025 the global average annual per capita availability of renewable water resources is projected to fall from 6,600 cubic metres to 4,800 cubic metres. Given the uneven distribution of these resources, however, it is much more informative that some 3 billion men and women will live in countries-wholly or partly arid or semiarid-that have less than 1,700 cubic metres per capita, the quantity below which one suffers from water stress. Unlike the more traditional approach of dealing with water scarcity, which focuses on quantity alone, water stress denotes reaching the limits of water quantity as well as quality. The distinction between the renewable resources in a basin and the primary water supply allows distinctions between physical and economic water scarcity.

Physical water scarcity means that even with the highest feasible efficiency and productivity of water use, countries will not have sufficient water resources to meet their agricultural, domestic, industrial and environmental needs in 2025. The only options for them are to invest in expensive desalination plants-or to reduce water used in agriculture, transfer it to other sectors, and import more food.

Economic water scarcity means that countries have sufficient water resources to meet their needs but will have to increase water supplies through additional storage, conveyance and regulation systems by 25% or more to meet their needs. These countries face severe financial and capacity problems in meeting their water needs.

The effect of high water stress will differ in different countries. In developed countries water is often treated before it is sent to downstream users, and industry recycles its water supply fairly intensively. For these and other reasons, developed countries can intensively use their water resources without major negative consequences.

Most developing countries by contrast, do not treat wastewater, and their industries do not intensively recycle their water supplies. So, the projected intensive use of water here will lead to the rapid degradation of water quality for downstream users and to frequent and persistent water emergencies.


HWRE 2O10 AR 14


Fig 1.1 Global Freshwater Resources


HWRE 2O10 AR Fig 1.2 The Major River Basins in Africa 16

Fig 1.2 The Major River Basins in Africa


HWRE 2O10 AR Fig 1.3 Freshwater stress and scarcity in Africa, by 2025 17

Fig 1.3 Freshwater stress and scarcity in Africa, by 2025


Summary This chapter gives an overview on hydrology and water resources engineering, and the important aspects of quantity, quality and water use. The relationships between water and people, industry and food are also presented. There are diverse threats that water has on nature and people, and in particular, the issues of water quality of surface water and groundwater, ecosystems and biodiversity and the extreme occurrences of water such as floods, droughts and climate change are also discussed. Importantly, integrated planning of water resources and in turn the future of water beyond today’s use is further discussed.


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What are the basic challenges of a water resources engineer?


Give three examples of projects of where a water resources engineer has to plan to control excess water. What are the parameters he needs to know about?


Give three examples of projects where a water resource engineer has to plan to conserve an amount of water? What parameters does he need to know?


Give three example situations where a water resources engineer needs to conserve the quality of water.


Discuss the main environmental problems related to the use of water and suggest how they can be overcome.


What is meant by i) Blue Water ii) Green Water Iii) Renewable Water?


What are the steps in the planning for a water resources project?


What is the evidence of climate change in Africa? How can we adapt to this?


What are the main challenges for water use in the future?