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Environmental

Impact Assessment
of Irrigation and
Drainage Projects
FAO Irrigation and
Drainage Paper 53
1995
T.C. Dougherty - A.W. Hall
HR Wallingford

Food and Agriculture Organization


of the United Nations

OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT
ADMINISTRATION OF THE
UNITED KINGDOM

Table of Contents
Preface

Purpose

Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations

Introduction

The Need for Environmental Assessment

Objective

Using the Guide

The Context of Environmental Analysis

Policy Framework

Social Context

10

Institutional Framework and EIA

11

Legal Framework for EIA

12

Building Institutional Capacity

14

To carry out an EIA

14

To implement the recommendations of an EIA

15

EIA Process

17

Resources

19

Screening

20

Table of Contents

Scoping

20

Prediction and Mitigation

21

Management and Monitoring

23

Auditing

24

Public Participation

25

Managing Uncertainty

27

Techniques

28

Baseline studies

28

The ICID Check-list

28

Matrices

29

Network diagrams

33

Overlays

34

Mathematical modelling

35

Expert advice

37

Economic techniques

37

Final Report - Environmental Impact Statement

38

Major Impacts of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

41

Hydrology

43

Low flow regime

43

Flood regime

47

Operation of dams

47

ii

Table of Contents

Fall of water table

48

Rise of water table

49

Water and Air Quality

51

Solute dispersion

51

Toxic substances

52

Agrochemical pollution

55

Anaerobic effects

56

Gas emissions

56

Soil Properties and Salinity Effects

56

Soil salinity

57

Soil properties

58

Saline groundwater

59

Saline drainage

59

Saline intrusion

60

Erosion and Sedimentation

61

Local erosion

61

Hinterland effect

62

River morphology

62

Channel structures

63

Sedimentation

63

Estuary erosion

64

iii

Table of Contents

Biological and Ecological Change

64

Project lands

64

Water bodies

65

Surrounding area

67

Valleys and shores

67

Wetlands and plains

67

Socio-economic impacts

68

Population change

68

Income and amenity

69

Human Migration

69

Resettlement

70

Womens role

70

Minority groups

70

Sites of value

71

Regional effects

71

User involvement

71

Recreation

71

Ecological Imbalances

72

Pests and weeds

72

Animal diseases

73

Aquatic weeds

73

iv

Table of Contents

Human Health

75

Disease ecology

76

Specific risks and counter measures

79

Health opportunities

81

Preparation of Terms of Reference

83

Determining Study Requirements

83

Contents of the TOR

85

References

88

Recommended Texts

88

Bibliography

89

Annex 1: Glossary

95

Glossary

95

Fao Technical Papers

98

FAO Irrigation and Drainage Papers

98

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Preface
The importance of environmental protection and conservation measures
has been increasingly recognized during the past two decades. It is now
generally accepted that economic development strategies must be
compatible with environmental goals. This requires the incorporation of
environmental dimensions into the process of development. It is important
to make choices and decisions that will eventually promote sound
development by understanding the environment functions. The United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in its
Agenda 21, Chapter 18: Protection of the Quality and Supply of
Freshwater, underscored the importance of environmental protection and
conservation of the natural resource base in the context of water resources
development for agriculture and rural development.
Much of the land currently under agriculture is deteriorating due to
inappropriate planning, implementation and management. Natural
resources, particularly soil and water, are being seriously affected. Soil
erosion, desertification, saliniza-tion and waterlogging reduce productivity
and jeopardize long-term sustainability. Agricultural expansion
programmes have often encompassed marginal land in many parts of the
world. Wise management of the environment requires an ability to
forecast, monitor, measure and analyse envi-ronmental trends and assess
the capabilities of land and water at different levels, ranging from a small
irrigated plot to a catchment. Adoption of environmental impact
assessments (EIAs) will enable countries to plan water and land use in an
integrated manner, avoiding irreversible environmental damage. Contrary
to common perceptions, this would lead to higher economic benefits and
sustainable resource use.
Irrigation and drainage projects invariably result in many far-reaching
ecological changes. Some of these benefit human population, while others
threaten the long-term productivity of the irriga-tion and drainage projects
themselves as well as the natural resource base. The undesirable changes are
not solely restricted to increasing pollution or loss of habitat for native plants
and animals; they cover the entire range of environmental components, such
as soil, water, air, energy, and the socio-economic system.
An increasing number of developing countries are accepting the
principle of environmental screening of development projects at the
planning stage and hence are looking for guidelines to environmental
impact assessments. Many multi- and bilateral agencies stipulate

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

environmental impact assessments of proposed developments as a


condition for lending, technical assistance and development support.
FAO has, for quite some time now, been emphasizing the environmental
impacts of irrigation and drainage projects, and provided technical
assistance to a number of countries in evaluating environmental impacts.
The challenge now is to provide the appropriate tools to those who
wish to undertake environ-men-tal impact assessment in irrigation and
drainage projects; a guide to a systematic approach to developing a
basic understanding of the environmental problems and a methodology
to assess the scope and magnitude of environmental damage that may be
caused by irrigation and drain-age. Despite many publications in recent
times, it is felt that an appropriate guide is still lacking. The need for an
objective EIA guide with focus on methodology that is applicable to
developing countries is indeed great. It was in this context that action
was taken, jointly by FAO and the Overseas Development Administration
(ODA) of the United Kingdom, to develop a guide to undertake
environmental impact assessment of irrigation and drainage projects in
developing countries.
The guide is a follow-up to the ICID environmental checklist. It takes
advantage of some existing guidelines as well as country studies in
environmental impact assessments.

PURPOSE
The aim of this publication is to provide guidance to personnel working
in irrigation and drainage to enable them to take into account the
environmental impacts of such developments. The main focus of the
document is on the process of undertaking environmental impact
assessment. In addition, major environmental impacts of irrigation and
drainage projects are discussed in detail. Guidance is also provided for
preparing terms of reference for undertaking an environmental impact
assessment study. A list of recommended texts and bibliography will help
the reader to obtain additional information on the subject.
The document was first presented at the VIIIth International Water
Research Association World Con-gress, Cairo, Egypt, 1994, and
subsequently submitted for comments to the Environment Working Group
of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage and the Joint
WHO/ FAO/UNEP/UNCHS Panel of Experts on Environmental
Management for Vector Control.

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors wish to acknowledge the considerable assistance provided
by Dr. Arumugam Kandiah of the Land and Water Development Division
of FAO, Random Dubois of the FAO Investment Centre and their
colleagues at FAO. Also Robert Bos, Executive Secretary of PEEM, made a
major contribution, in particular to the section Human health. Other
notable contributors include Peter Furu (Danish Bilharzia Laboratory),
Alfred Heuperman (Institute of Sustainable Irrigated Agriculture, Victoria,
Australia), Dr. A Mauderli and Martin Fritsch (Institute for Land
Improvement and Water Management (ETH), Zrich, Switzerland), and
Wolfram Dirksen (German National Committee of the ICID). The
publication was reformatted and prepared for printing by Han Kamphuis
and Chrissi Redfern. The authors wish to thank the above, and others too
numerous to mention, for their contributions to this Guide.

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
ADB
AfDB
CWC
EA, EIA
EAP/EMP
EBRD
EC
EIRR
EIS
EOP
EPA
ERL
ESCAP
FAO
GIS
GTZ
ICID
ICOLD
IEE
ILO
IPCS
IUCN
IWRA
NGO
ODA
OECD

Asian Development Bank


African Development Bank
Central Water Commission of India
Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Environmental Action / Management Plan
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Electrical Conductivity
Economic Internal Rate of Return
Environmental Impact Statement
Effect on Production
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Resources Limited
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Geographic Information System
Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Technische Zusammenarbeit
(German Agency for Technical Co-operation)
International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage
International Commission on Large Dams
Initial Environmental Examination / Evaluation
International Labour Organization
International Programme on Chemical Safety
International Union for the Conservation of Nature
International Water Research Association
Non-Governmental Organization
Overseas Development Administration of the UK
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

PEEM
PE/RC
SAR
TOR
UK
UNCHS
UNECE
UNEP
USA
WHO

Panel of Experts on Environmental Management for vector


control (a joint acti-vi-ty of WHO, FAO, UNEP and UNCHS)
Preventative Expenditure / Replacement Costs
Sodium Adsorption Ratio
Terms of Reference
United Kingdom
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
United Nations Environment Programme
United States of America
World Health Organization

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Introduction
THE NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
Economic, social and environmental change is inherent to
development. Whilst development aims to bring about positive change it
can lead to conflicts. In the past, the promotion of economic growth as the
motor for increased well-being was the main development thrust with little
sensitivity to adverse social or environmental impacts. The need to avoid
adverse impacts and to ensure long term benefits led to the concept of
sustainability. This has become accepted as an essential feature of
development if the aim of increased well-being and greater equity in
fulfilling basic needs is to be met for this and future generations.
In order to predict environmental impacts of any development activity
and to provide an opportunity to mitigate against negative impacts and
enhance positive impacts, the environmental impact assessment (EIA)
procedure was developed in the 1970s. An EIA may be defined as:
a formal process to predict the environmental consequences of human
development activities and to plan appropriate measures to eliminate or
reduce adverse effects and to augment positive effects.
EIA thus has three main functions:
to predict problems,
to find ways to avoid them, and
to enhance positive effects.
The third function is of particular importance. The EIA provides a unique
opportunity to demonstrate ways in which the environment may be improved
as part of the development process. The EIA also predicts the conflicts and
constraints between the proposed project, programme or sectoral plan and its
environment. It provides an opportunity for mitigation measures to be
incorporated to minimize problems. It enables monitoring programmes to be
established to assess future impacts and provide data on which managers can
take informed decisions to avoid environmental damage.
EIA is a management tool for planners and decision makers and
complements other project studies on engineering and economics.
Environmental assessment is now accepted as an essential part of

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

development planning and management. It should become as familiar and


important as economic analysis in project evaluation.
The aim of any EIA should be to facilitate sustainable development.
Beneficial environmental effects are maximized while adverse effects are
ameliorated or avoided to the greatest extent possible. EIA will help select
and design projects, programmes or plans with long term viability and
therefore improve cost effectiveness.
It is important that an EIA is not just considered as part of the approval
process. Volumes of reports produced for such a purpose, which are
neither read nor acted upon, will devalue the process. A key output of the
EIA should be an action plan to be followed during implementation and
after implementation during the monitoring phase. To enable the action
plan to be effective the EIA may also recommend changes to laws and
institutional structures.
Initially EIA was seen by some project promoters as a constraint to
development but this view is gradually disappearing. It can, however, be a
useful constraint to unsustainable development. It is now well understood
that environment and development are complementary and
interdependent and EIA is a technique for ensuring that the two are
mutually reinforcing. A study carried out by the Environmental Protection
Agency (USA) in 1980 showed that there were significant changes to
projects during the EIA process, marked improvements in environmental
protection measures and net financial benefits. The costs of EIA preparation
and any delays were more than covered by savings accruing from
modifications, (Wathern, 1988).
Irrigated agriculture is crucial to the economy, health and welfare of a
very large part of the developing world. It is too important to be
marginalized as it is vital for world food security. However, irrigated
agriculture often radically changes land use and is a major consumer of
freshwater. Irrigation development thus has a major impact on the
environment. All new irrigation and drainage development results in some
form of degradation. It is necessary to determine the acceptable level and
to compensate for the degradation. This degradation may extend both
upstream and downstream of the irrigated area. The impacts may be both
to the natural, physical environment and to the human environment. All
major donors consider large irrigation and drainage developments to be
environmentally sensitive.
An EIA is concerned both with impacts of irrigation and drainage on the
environment and with the sustainability of irrigation and drainage itself.
Clearly an EIA will not resolve all problems. There will be trade-offs
between economic development and environmental protection as in all

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

development activities. However, without an objective EIA, informed


decision making would be impossible.

OBJECTIVE
This guide aims to assist staff in developing countries from various
disciplines and backgrounds (government officials, consultants, planners)
to incorporate environmental considerations into planning, designing,
implementing and regulating irrigation and drainage programmes, plans
and projects, thus leading to sustainable projects. The guide aims to be of
general use throughout the developing world and has three main
functions:
to
to
to
to

describe the methodology and output of an EIA;


provide inter-disciplinary advice related to irrigation and drainage
those engaged in preparing EIAs; and,
enhance institutional capacity for carrying out an EIA.

In developing countries irrigation development is mainly the


responsibility of the public sector. This document therefore concentrates on
public sector irrigation projects. Whilst national irrigation authorities will
not usually carry out EIAs, they will commission them, either as part of a
feasibility study or separately. They must therefore be familiar with EIA in
order to formulate the terms of reference and to appraise the impact
statement. Private developers should also be required to demonstrate that
their proposals are environmentally sound.
The objective has been to produce a brief reference text that will be of
most benefit to non-specialists in developing countries who are perhaps
facing the need to carry out an environmental assessment for the first time.
To ensure brevity, and accessibility to all readers, technical, scientific or
engineering content has been kept to a minimum. It is assumed that this
information is readily available in other textbooks or manuals and that
many readers will already be familiar with some technical aspects.
Similarly, no detailed explanation of the philosophy of EIA is given as
this is available in standard general texts. Throughout the guide the terms
EIA and environmental assessment have been used synonymously. A
glossary of terms and abbreviations used in the text are included in Annex
1. Chapter 6 provides a guide to other publications considered of most use
that are also widely available. Recommended texts, which are considered
particularly useful, are reviewed at the start of Chapter 6.

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

USING THE GUIDE


Environmental assessment is appropriate for both site specific projects
and wider programmes or plans covering projects or sectoral activities over
a wide geographic area. In this document the term project is used
interchangeably for both the site specific and wider meaning.
Rehabilitation or modernization programmes are more common than new
green field projects and raise special issues which need to be addressed by
an EIA. They provide more opportunities to correct situations where the
environment is adversely affected and they are usually richer in available
data, (Tiffen, 1989). Also, operation and maintenance reforms for regions
or basins will benefit greatly from an EIA. As this guide has been
specifically prepared to address irrigation and drainage projects, plans and
programmes, it is not sufficiently comprehensive to be used to carry out
environmental impact assessments of other water resources projects.
Initially EIA was used for specific, particularly large scale, projects such
as dams, which have obvious long-term consequences. Now, however,
greater attention is given to the wider relationship between development
and the environment. The relatively insignificant actions of many
individual people may cumulatively have a much greater impact on the
environment than a single construction project. For example a programme
to support small-holder development, through agricultural credit schemes
to Water User Groups, may not warrant an EIA if each scheme is
considered in isolation. However, the impact within a river basin or in the
water sector in a region can be significant. A sectoral or basin-wide EIA
would enable an assessment of the collective impact of the programme. In
a further example from Tamil Nadu, India, a decision was made to provide
free electricity to farmers to pump water for irrigation. Whilst this
increased agricultural production it also led to groundwater mining: the
reduction in the groundwater level in some areas has resulted in severe
environmental and economic problems.
To enable the EIA process to be of maximum benefit, it must be
incorporated into the planning process of a country. The social,
institutional and legal issues concerned with the effective use of EIA are
covered in Chapter 2. Chapter 5, on how to prepare terms of refe-rence,
has been prepared to assist those who need to employ others to carry out
EIAs on their behalf. The mechanics of carrying out an EIA together with a
description of the possible environmental impacts of irrigation and
drainage are described, respectively, in Chapters 3 and 4.

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The Context of
Environmental Analysis
POLICY FRAMEWORK
Increasingly, at the national level, new environmental policies are being
introduced, perhaps including a National Environmental Action Plan or
National Plan for Sustainable Development. Such policies are often
supported by legislation. Government policies in areas such as water, land
distribution and food production, especially if supported by legislation, are
likely to be highly significant for irrigation and drainage projects. An EIA
should outline the policy environment relevant to the study in question.
Results are also likely to be most easily understood if they are interpreted
in the light of prevailing policies.
Policies and regulations are sometimes conflicting and can contribute to
degradation. It is within the scope of an EIA to highlight such conflicts and
detail their consequences in relation to the irrigation and drainage
proposal under study. An example of conflicting policies would be an
agricultural policy to subsidize agro-chemicals to increase production and
an environmental policy to limit the availability of persistent chemicals. A
totally laissez-faire policy will result in unsustainable development, for
example through uncontrolled pollution and distortions in wealth. This
creates problems which future generations have to resolve. On the other
hand, excessive government control of market forces may also have
negative environmental impacts. For example, free irrigation water leads to
the inefficient use of this scarce and expensive resource, inequities
between head and tail users and waterlogging and salinity problems.
Legal and policy issues have far-reaching consequences for the
environment and are included here to illustrate the complex nature of
environmental issues. The FAO Legislative Study 38, The environmental
impact of economic incentives for agricultural production: a comparative
law study, is a useful reference. A forthcoming FAO/World Bank/UNDP
publication, Water Sector Policy Review and Strategy Formulation: A
General Framework, will address the need for environmental issues to be
integrated into water policy. If a regional, sector or basin-wide EIA is
needed, such issues will form an important part.

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

SOCIAL CONTEXT
A project or programme and its environmental impacts exist within a
social framework. The context in which an EIA is carried out will be
unique and stereotype solutions to environmental assessments are
therefore not possible. Cultural practices, institutional structures and legal
arrangements, which form the basis of social structure, vary from country
to country and sometimes, within a country, from one region to another. It
is a fundamental requirement to understand the social structure of the area
under study as it will have a direct impact on the project and the EIA.
Local, regional and national regulations, laws and organizationsare
interlinked. The way in which they are interlinked needs to be explicitly
understood as part of the EIA. An understanding of the institutional and
legal framework concerning the environment and irrigation and drainage
development is critical to the success of any project or programme.
Indeed, it is likely that recommendations arising from the EIA will include
restructuring or strengthening institutions, particularly at a local level, for
example, ensuring adequate maintenance or effective monitoring of drain
water quality. Recommendations for new legal controls or limits may also
form part of the EIA output; for example, stipulating a particular flow
regime in order to maintain a wetland.
At a local or regional level there may be particular regulations and
customary practices which will influence environmental aspects of any
project and these must be understood. The participation of local groups
and the direct beneficiaries, mainly farmers, is essential to successful EIA.
This may best be achieved by involving district councils. At the district
level there is more interaction between sectors. Consultation with local
interest groups, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), will
enable local views to be taken into account and their concerns addressed.
An awareness of social and cultural problems may enable solutions to be
found and conflicts to be averted before project implementation
commences. Ignorance of a problem will prevent a satisfactory solution
being found.
If land acquisition, economic rehabilitation (providing an alternative
source of income) or resettlement of displaced people are factors in any
proposed development, special care will be needed in carrying out the
EIA. In most countries such issues are socially and politically sensitive and
legally complex and must be identified early, during screening. They
should be highlighted so that they are adequately studied by experts early
in project preparation.
Poor people often find themselves in a vicious circle. They are forced by
their poverty to exploit natural resources in an unsustainable manner and

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

suffer from increasing poverty because of environmental degradation. They


often inhabit fragile, marginal eco-zones in rural and, increasingly, semiurban areas. High population growth is linked to poverty and further
contributes to the dynamics of the vicious circle as ever increasing
demands are made on finite natural resources. Therefore, the needs of the
poor, their influence on the project and the projects impact on vulnerable
groups all require particular attention in an EIA.

INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK AND EIA


Environmental, water and land issues involve many disciplines and
many government bodies. Data will therefore have to be collected and
collated from a wide range of technical ministries, other government
authorities and parastatals. The interests of some bodies may not initially
appear to be relevant to irrigation and drainage. However, they may hold
important information about the project and surrounding area on such
topics as land tenure, health, ecology and demography.
The link between different ministries and departments within ministries
are often complex and the hierarchy for decision making unclear. There is
a tendency for each ministry to guard its project and not consult or seek
information from other government bodies unless forced to. This is directly
contrary to the needs of an EIA. Even if formal structures exist there may
be a lack of coordination between different organizations. Informal links
may have been established in practice in order to overcome awkward
bureaucratic structures. These issues must be understood and not
oversimplified.
There may be conflict between government organizations, particularly
between the institution promoting the development and that given the
mandate for environmental protection. In countries where some planning
processes are undertaken at the regional or district level, the regional or
district councils make it easier for affected communities to put forward
their views, which may differ from those of the central authorities. They
will have different agendas and approaches. The EIA process must be
interactive and be sympathetic to the differing views; not biased towards a
particular organization.
One of the main conflicts arising from irrigation and drainage projects
is between those responsible for agriculture and those for water. In some
countries, there are several key ministries with differing responsibility, such
as agriculture, public works and irrigation, plus several parastatal
organizations and special authorities or commissions, some perhaps
directly under the Office of the President. The institutional aspects are
complex; for example in Thailand, over 15 institutions have responsibility
for various aspects of soil conservation work.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Increasingly, at the national level, new institutions are being created, or


existing institutions reorganized, to address environmental issues. Often a
Ministry of the Environment will be created with a mandate to prepare
legislation, set standards and provide a policing role. In addition, an
Environmental Protection Agency may also be created to coordinate
environmental assessment activities and to monitor follow up actions.
As well as specific environmental agencies, new units or departments
concerned with environmental issues are being created in technical
ministries. Such units may have narrow duties related to the responsibilities
of the institution. For example, several units could be concerned with
various aspects of monitoring water pollution levels and setting acceptable
quality standards. The responsibilities of all the relevant institutions needs
to be clearly understood.
Institutional weakness is one of the major reasons for environmentally
unsound development. The multiplicity of institutions may also mitigate
against effective enforcement of environmental control measures.
The EIA must cover such issues in depth and highlight contradictions,
weak or impractical legislation and institutional conflicts. To overcome
such problems an EIA should propose appropriate solutions. This should
include institutional strengthening.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR EIA


Environmental policy without appropriate legislation will be ineffective
as, in turn, will be legislation without enforcement. Economic and
financial pressures will tend to dominate other concerns. In many
developing countries legislation on environmental issues has been in
existence for many years. For example, laws exist in most countries for the
prevention of water pollution, the protection of cultural heritage and for
minimum compensation flows. Much of the existing legislation or
regulations have not been considered environmental. Recently, much
specific new environmental legislation has been enacted. This may be as a
response to major disasters, or may result from government policy, public
pressure or the general increased international awareness of the
environmental dangers that now exist in the world. Relevant water and
land law as well as environmental protection legislation needs stating,
understanding and analysing as part of an EIA.
New legislation may include a statutory requirement for an EIA to be
done in a prescribed manner for specific development activities. When
carrying out an EIA it is thus essential to be fully aware of the statutory
requirements and the legal responsibilities of the concerned institutions.
These are best given as an annex to the terms of reference. The legal
requirements of the country must be satisfied. New laws can impose an

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

enormous burden on the responsible agencies. The statutory requirement


to carry out an EIA for specific projects will, for example, require expert
staff to carry out the study, as well as officials to review the EIA and
approve the project.
Laws designating what projects require EIA should, ideally, limit the
statutory requirements to prevent EIA merely becoming a hurdle in the
approval process. This will prevent large volumes of work being carried
out for little purpose. Most legislation lists projects for which EIA is a
discretionary requirement. The discretionary authority is usually the same
body that approves an EIA. This arrangement allows limited resources to be
allocated most effectively. However, it is essential that the discretionary
authority is publicly accountable.
When external financial support is required it will also be necessary to
satisfy the obligations of the donor organization. Most major donors now
require an EIA for projects relating to irrigation and drainage. Chapter 6
gives details of publications outlining the requirements of the main donors.
The function of environmental legislation can vary. It is not easy to give
a precise definition of when an EIA is needed. Therefore the statutory
requirement for an EIA is not particularly well suited to law. On the other
hand many of the most important environmental hazards are easily
addressed by law. For example, it is straightforward to set legal limits for
pollution, flow levels, compensation etc: here the problem is one of
enforcement. It is normal for an EIA to assess the acceptability or severity
of impacts in relation to legal limits and standards. However, it is
important to highlight cases where existing standards are insufficiently
stringent to prevent adverse impacts and to recommend acceptable
standards. Enforcement problems can be partially addressed by changing
institutional structures.
Laws relating to irrigated lands are complex and according to an FAO
study of five African countries they are not generally applied (FAO, 1992).
There are conflicts between modern and customary laws: the former tend
to be given prominence although the latter are usually strong locally.
Traditional and customary rights have often developed in very different
historical and political contexts and can vary greatly over a short distance.
They may also be mainly oral and imprecise. Local participation in the
preparation of the EIA will help to understand important customary rights
and highlight possible weaknesses in any proposed development.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

BUILDING INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY


To carry out an EIA
It may be desirable to have both a Ministry of the Environment (which
will have responsibility for setting norms and new legislation) and an
Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, (as a coordinating authority to
orchestrate the cross-sectoral EIA activity). Whatever the institutional
structure, the ministry promoting the development will usually be required
to carry out an EIA or to commission others to carry it out on their behalf.
The EIA will then be approved or otherwise by the central regulating
authorities. To enable this process to function satisfactorily trained staff will
be required in:
the environmental authority for commissioning and effective review
and approval of EIAs;
the technical authority for carrying out EIAs or preparing terms of
reference or guidelines for others to do the work; and,
Universities and the private sector, should the work be put out to
contract.
There is thus a clear need for skilled professional staff in a variety of
organizations who are familiar and competent with EIAs.
To achieve the required skills, training should cover all educational
levels. Environmental studies should be introduced in schools and
universities so that future expertise is nurtured. In-service training for both
professional staff and technicians is important. Senior planners and
decision makers also need to attend short environmental awareness
programmes so that they appreciate the issues raised in EIA reports and
can make enlightened decisions.
If environmental assessment is a statutory requirement, local expertise
will be needed to carry out the work that this will impose. For large
projects, with external financial support, foreign expertise may be used but
this would not be viable for most projects. Foreign consultants, because
they are outsiders, are at a disadvantage in making recommendations that
are realistic and implementable. Local expertise, for both the public and
private sectors, must be developed through adequately funded training and
technology transfer programmes. Training should focus on the skills needed
for an intersectoral decision making process at the crucial points in the
project cycle. It should not aim to make pseudo EIA specialists out of other
technical specialists.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

In those countries where there is no central environmental authority


and no statutory regulations for EIA the need for skilled staff will be
equally important but less obvious. The pressure to carry out an EIA may
come from external donors, the general public or specific pressure groups.
In this case those who carry out the work may come from a small pool of
academics or from external consultants. Part of their remit should be to
train counterparts in government service. This situation is unsatisfactory in
the long-term and will tend to restrict EIA to only the largest and most
controversial projects. Governments must address this problem by
appropriate policies for environmental protection and adequate resources
to train skilled staff to carry out the work.
EIA is not a subject in itself but a procedure which relies on expertise
from many disciplines. Training should not therefore be solely targeted to
environmental scientists or ecologists. It is important that training is
provided for specialists in all disciplines involved in an EIA, from scientists
to sociologists and engineers to economists, so that they can contribute to
meaningful EIAs. An important, but highly specialized area of training is in
the health aspects of irrigation development. The PEEM Secretariat
organizes an intersectoral course on health opportunities in water
resources development which is held in developing countries.
Data are essential to an EIA and the organizations responsible for data
collection and analysis, for meteorology, hydrology, water quality etc,
should be strengthened (or established if not already existing). The
organizations must be well funded so that the data collected are reliable
and complete and the staff well trained and motivated. Inadequate and
unreliable data will result in poor studies based purely on qualitative
analysis which can be subjective and easily refuted.

To implement the recommendations of an EIA


As part of an EIA, it may be necessary to consider how existing
organizations will need to be changed or new laws promulgated in order
to ensure environmentally sustainable development. The implementation
of mitigating measures or monitoring will often have an impact on the
work of one or several institutions. It will therefore be necessary to
recommend precisely the structure and role of new units within an
organization or the restructuring of existing units, so that the proposed
measures can be implemented effectively.
The EIA should also give recommendations on local capacity building.
Definition of such local needs may involve several national and local
government authorities, NGOs or other participatory groups such as Water
Users Associations and academic institutions. It is crucial that local and

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

not just central government institutional capacity is strengthened. This will


help to overcome the feeling that environmental issues are imposed from a
remote central authority and are a diversion from more important
development activities. It will also build into project planning the
importance of environmental management.
Once a project has been approved, responsibility for ensuring that EIA
recommendations are implemented may fall to a weak unit within the
executing agency. This institutional weakness can considerably devalue an
EIA and render it a mere hurdle on the path to implementation to be
discarded once a project starts. When preparing an EIA it is essential that
the environmental authorities are identified and strengthened to ensure
they are not toothless. The authority responsible for project implementation
should be accountable to watchdog environmental agencies. One way of
ensuring this would be to link budget allocations from the Ministry of
Finance/Planning to satisfactory performance.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

EIA Process
The EIA process makes sure that environmental issues are raised when a
project or plan is first discussed and that all concerns are addressed as a
project gains momentum through to implementation. Recommendations
made by the EIA may necessitate the redesign of some project
components, require further studies, suggest changes which alter the
economic viability of the project or cause a delay in project
implementation. To be of most benefit it is essential that an environmental
assessment is carried out to determine significant impacts early in the
project cycle so that recommendations can be built into the design and
cost-benefit analysis without causing major delays or increased design
costs. To be effective once implementation has commenced, the EIA
should lead to a mechanism whereby adequate monitoring is undertaken
to realize environmental management. An important output from the EIA
process should be the delineation of enabling mechanisms for such
effective management.
The way in which an EIA is carried out is not rigid: it is a process
comprising a series of steps. These steps are outlined below and the
techniques more commonly used in EIA are described in some detail in
the section Techniques. The main steps in the EIA process are:
screening
scoping
prediction and mitigation
management and monitoring
audit
Figure 1 shows a general flow diagram of the EIA process, how it fits in
with parallel technical and economic studies and the role of public
participation. In some cases, such as small-scale irrigation schemes, the
transition from identification through to detailed design may be rapid and
some steps in the EIA procedure may be omitted.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

FIGURE 1 - Flow diagram of the EIA process and parallel studies

18

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Screening often results in a categorization of the project and from this


a decision is made on whether or not a full EIA is to be carried out.
Scoping is the process of determining which are the most critical
issues to study and will involve community participation to some
degree. It is at this early stage that EIA can most strongly influence the
outline proposal.
Detailed prediction and mitigation studies follow scoping and are
carried out in parallel with feasibility studies.
The main output report is called an Environmental Impact Statement,
and contains a detailed plan for managing and monitoring
environmental impacts both during and after implementation.
Finally, an audit of the EIA process is carried out some time after
implementation. The audit serves a useful feedback and learning
function.

RESOURCES
An EIA team for an irrigation and drainage study is likely to be
composed of some or all of the following: a team leader; a hydrologist; an
irrigation / drainage engineer; a fisheries biologist/ecologist; an
agronomist/pesticide expert; a soil conservation expert; a
biological/environmental scientist; an economist, a social scientist and a
health scientist (preferably a epidemiologist). The final structure of the team
will vary depending on the project. Specialists may also be required for
fieldwork, laboratory testing, library research, data processing, surveys and
modelling. The team leader will require significant management skill to coordinate the work of a team with diverse skills and knowledge.
There will be a large number of people involved in EIA apart from the
full-time team members. These people will be based in a wide range of
organizations, such as the project proposing and authorizing bodies,
regulatory authorities and various interest groups. Such personnel would
be located in various agencies and also in the private sector; a
considerable number will need specific EIA training.
The length of the EIA will obviously depend on the programme, plan or
project under review. However, the process usually lasts from between 6
and 18 months from preparation through to review. It will normally be
approximately the same length as the feasibility study of which it should
form an integral part. It is essential that the EIA team and the team carrying
out the feasibility study work together and not in isolation from each other.
This often provides the only opportunity for design changes to be made
and mitigation measures to be incorporated in the project design.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The cost of the study will vary considerably and only very general
estimates can be given here. Typically, costs vary from between 0.1 and
0.3 percent of the total project cost for large pro-jects over US$ 100
million and from 0.2 to 0.5 percent for projects less than US$ 100 million.
For small projects the cost could increase to between 1 and 3 percent of
the project cost.

SCREENING
Screening is the process of deciding on whether an EIA is required. This
may be determined by size (eg greater than a predetermined surface area
of irrigated land that would be affected, more than a certain percentage or
flow to be diverted or more than a certain capital expenditure).
Alternatively it may be based on site-specific information. For example, the
repair of a recently destroyed diversion structure is unlikely to require an
EIA whilst a major new headwork structure may. Guidelines for whether or
not an EIA is required will be country specific depending on the laws or
norms in operation. Legislation often specifies the criteria for screening
and full EIA. All major donors screen projects presented for financing to
decide whether an EIA is required.
The output from the screening process is often a document called an
Initial Environmental Examination or Evaluation (IEE). The main
conclusion will be a classification of the project according to its likely
environmental sensitivity. This will determine whether an EIA is needed
and if so to what detail.

SCOPING
Scoping occurs early in the project cycle at the same time as outline
planning and pre-feasibility studies. Scoping is the process of identifying
the key environmental issues and is perhaps the most important step in an
EIA. Several groups, particularly decision makers, the local population and
the scientific community, have an interest in helping to deliberate the
issues which should be considered, and scoping is designed to canvass
their views, (Wathern 1988).
Scoping is important for two reasons. First, so that problems can be
pinpointed early allowing mitigating design changes to be made before
expensive detailed work is carried out. Second, to ensure that detailed
prediction work is only carried out for important issues. It is not the
purpose of an EIA to carry out exhaustive studies on all environmental
impacts for all projects. If key issues are identified and a full scale EIA
considered necessary then the scoping should include terms of reference
for these further studies.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

At this stage the option exists for cancelling or drastically revising the
project should major environmental problems be identified. Equally it may
be the end of the EIA process should the impacts be found to be
insignificant. Once this stage has passed, the opportunity for major
changes to the project is restricted.
Before the scoping exercise can be fully started, the remit of the study
needs to be defined and agreed by the relevant parties. These will vary
depending on the institutional structure. At a minimum, those who should
contribute to determining the remit will include those who decide whether
a policy or project is implemented, those carrying out the EIA (or
responsible for having it carried out by others) and those carrying out
parallel engineering and economic studies relating to the proposal.
Chapter 5 gives details on preparing terms of reference for an EIA. A
critical issue to determine is the breadth of the study. For example, if a
proposed project is to increase the area of irrigated agriculture in a region
by 10%, is the remit of the EIA to study the proposal only or also to
consider options that would have the same effect on production?
A major activity of scoping is to identify key interest groups, both
governmental and non-governmental, and to establish good lines of
communication. People who are affected by the project need to hear
about it as soon as possible. Their knowledge and perspectives may have a
major bearing on the focus of the EIA. Rapid rural appraisal techniques
provide a means of assessing the needs and views of the affected
population.
The main EIA techniques used in scoping are baseline studies,
checklists, matrices and network diagrams. These techniques collect and
present knowledge and information in a straightforward way so that logical
decisions can be made about which impacts are most significant. Risk and
uncertainty are discussed further in the section Managing uncertainty.

PREDICTION AND MITIGATION


Once the scoping exercise is complete and the major impacts to be
studied have been identified, prediction work can start. This stage forms
the central part of an EIA. Several major options are likely to have been
proposed either at the scoping stage or before and each option may
require separate prediction studies. Realistic and affordable mitigating
measures cannot be proposed without first estimating the scope of the
impacts, which should be in monetary terms wherever possible. It then
becomes important to quantify the impact of the suggested improvements
by further prediction work. Clearly, options need to be discarded as soon
as their unsuitability can be proved or alternatives shown to be superior in
environmental or economic terms, or both. It is also important to test the
without project scenario.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

An important outcome of this stage will be recommendations for


mitigating measures. This would be contained in the Environmental Impact
Statement. Clearly the aim will be to introduce measures which minimize
any identified adverse impacts and enhance positive impacts. Formal and
informal communication links need to be established with teams carrying
out feasibility studies so that their work can take proposals into account.
Similarly, feasibility studies may indicate that some options are technically
or economically unacceptable and thus environmental prediction work for
these options will not be required.
Many mitigating measures do not define physical changes but require
management or institutional changes or additional investment, such as for
health services. Mitigating measures may also be procedural changes, for
example, the introduction of, or increase in, irrigation service fees to
promote efficiency and water conservation. Table 6 in Chapter 4 describes
the most common adverse impacts associated with irrigation and drainage
schemes and some appropriate mitigating measures.
By the time prediction and mitigation are undertaken, the project
preparation will be advanced and a decision will most likely have been
made to proceed with the project. Considerable expenditure may have
already been made and budgets allocated for the implementation of the
project. Major changes could be disruptive to project processing and only
accepted if prediction shows that impacts will be considerably worse than
originally identified at the scoping stage. For example, an acceptable
measure might be to alter the mode of operation of a reservoir to protect
downstream fisheries, but a measure proposing an alternative to dam
construction could be highly contentious at this stage. To avoid conflict it
is important that the EIA process commences early in the project cycle.
This phase of an EIA will require good management of a wide range of
technical specia-lists with particular emphasis on:
prediction methods;
interpretation of predictions, with and without mitigating measures;
assessment of comparisons.
It is important to assess the required level of accuracy of predictions.
Mathematical modelling is a valuable technique, but care must be taken to
choose models that suit the available data. Because of the level of
available knowledge and the complexity of the systems, physical systems
are modelled more successfully than ecological systems which in turn are
more successfully modelled than social systems. Social studies (including
institutional capacity studies) will probably produce output in nonnumerical terms. Expert advice, particularly from experts familiar with the
locality, can provide quantification of impacts that cannot be modelled.
Various techniques are available to remove the bias of individual opinion.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Checklists, matrices, networks diagrams, graphical comparisons and


overlays, are all techniques developed to help carry out an EIA and present
the results of an EIA in a format useful for comparing options. The main
quantifiable methods of comparing options are by applying weightings, to
environmental impacts or using economic cost-benefit analysis or a
combination of the two. Numerical values, or weightings, can be applied to
different environmental impacts to (subjectively) define their relative
importance. Assigning economic values to all environmental impacts is not
recommended as the issues are obscured by the single, final answer.
However, economic techniques, can provide insight into comparative
importance where different environmental impacts are to be compared, such
as either losing more wetlands or resettling a greater number of people.
When comparing a range of proposals or a variety of mitigation or
enhancement activities, a number of characteristics of different impacts
need to be highlighted. The relative importance of impacts needs agreeing,
usually following a method of reaching a consensus but including
economic considerations. The uncertainty in predicting the impact should
be clearly noted. Finally, the time frame in which the impact will occur
should be indicated, including whether or not the impact is irreversible.

MANAGEMENT AND MONITORING


The part of the EIS covering monitoring and management is often
referred to as the Environmental Action Plan or Environmental
Management Plan. This section not only sets out the mitigation measures
needed for environmental management, both in the short and long term,
but also the institutional requirements for implementation. The term
institutional is used here in its broadest context to encompass
relationships:
established by law between individuals and government;
between individuals and groups involved in economic transactions;
developed to articulate legal, financial and administrative links
among public agencies;
motivated by socio-psychological stimuli among groups and
individuals (Craine, 1971).
The above list highlights the breadth of options available for
environmental management, namely: changes in law; changes in prices;
changes in governmental institutions; and, changes in culture which may
be influenced by education and information dissemination. All the
management proposals need to be clearly defined and costed. One of the
more straight-forward and effective changes is to set-up a monitoring
programme with clear definition as to which agencies are responsible for
data collection, collation, interpretation and implementation of
management measures.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The purpose of monitoring is to compare predicted and actual impacts,


particularly if the impacts are either very important or the scale of the
impact cannot be very accurately predicted. The results of monitoring can
be used to manage the environment, particularly to highlight problems
early so that action can be taken. The range of parameters requiring
monitoring may be broad or narrow and will be dictated by the
prediction and mitigation stage of the EIA. Typical areas of concern
where monitoring is weak are: water quality, both inflow and outflow;
stress in sensitive ecosystems; soil fertility, particularly salinization
problems; water related health hazards; equity of water distributions;
groundwater levels.
The use of satellite imagery to monitor changes in land use and the
health of the land and sea is becoming more common and can prove a
cost-effective tool, particularly in areas with poor access. Remotely
sensed data have the advantage of not being constrained by political and
administrative boundaries. They can be used as one particular overlay in
a GIS. However, authorization is needed for their use, which may be
linked to national security issues, and may thus be hampered by
reluctant governments.
Monitoring should not be seen as an open-ended commitment to
collect data. If the need for monitoring ceases, data collection should
cease. Conversely, monitoring may reveal the need for more intensive
study and the institutional infrastructure must be sufficiently flexible to
adapt to changing demands. The information obtained from monitoring
and management can be extremely useful for future EIAs, making them
both more accurate and more efficient.
The Environmental Management Plan needs to not only include clear
recommendations for action and the procedures for their implementation
but must also define a programme and costs. It must be quite clear exactly
how management and mitigation methods are phased with project
implementation and when costs will be incurred. Mitigation and
management measures will not be adopted unless they can be shown to
be practicable and good value for money. The plan should also stipulate
that if, during project implementation, major changes are introduced, or if
the project is aborted, the EIA procedures will be re-started to evaluate the
effect of such actions.

AUDITING
In order to capitalise on the experience and knowledge gained, the last
stage of an EIA is to carry out an Environmental Audit some time after
completion of the project or implementation of a programme. It will
therefore usually be done by a separate team of specialists to that working

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

on the bulk of the EIA. The audit should include an analysis of the
technical, procedural and decision-making aspects of the EIA. Technical
aspects include: the adequacy of the baseline studies, the accuracy of
predictions and the suitability of mitigation measures. Procedural aspects
include: the efficiency of the procedure, the fairness of the public
involvement measures and the degree of coordination of roles and
responsibilities. Decision-making aspects include: the utility of the process
for decision making and the implications for development, (adapted from
Sadler in Wathern, 1988). The audit will determine whether
recommendations and requirements made by the earlier EIA steps were
incorporated successfully into project implementation. Lessons learnt and
formally described in an audit can greatly assist in future EIAs and build up
the expertise and efficiency of the concerned institutions.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Projects or programmes have significant impacts on the local
population. Whilst the aim is to improve the well being of the population,
a lack of understanding of the people and their society may result in
development that has considerable negative consequences. More
significantly, there may be divergence between national economic interests
and those of the local population. For example, the need to increase local
rice production to satisfy increasing consumption in the urban area may
differ from the needs as perceived by the local farmers. To allow for this,
public participation in the planning process is essential. The EIA provides
an ideal forum for checking that the affected public have been adequately
consulted and their views taken into account in project preparation.
The level of consultation will vary depending on the type of plan or
project. New projects involving resettlement or displacement will require the
most extensive public participation. As stated before, the purpose of an EIA is
to improve projects and this, to some extent, can only be achieved by
involving those people directly or indirectly affected. The value of
environmental amenities is not absolute and consensus is one way of
establishing values. Public consultation will reveal new information, improve
understanding and enable better choices to be made. Without consultation,
legitimate issues may not be heard, leading to conflict and unsustainability.
The community should not only be consulted they should be actively
involved in environmental matters. The International Union for the
Conservation of Nature, IUCN promotes the concept of Primary
Environmental Care whereby farmers, for example, with assistance from
extension services, are directly involved in environmental management.
The earlier the public are involved, the better. Ideally this will be before a
development proposal is fully defined. It is an essential feature of

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

successful scoping, at which stage feedback will have the maximum


influence. Openness about uncertainty should be a significant feature of
this process. As the EIA progresses, public consultation is likely to be
decreased though it is important to disseminate information. The
publication of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), will
normally be accompanied by some sort of public hearing that needs to be
chaired by a person with good communication skills. He/she may not be a
member of the EIA team.
There are no clear rules about how to involve the public and it is
important that the process remains innovative and flexible. In practice, the
views of people affected by the plan are likely to be heard through some
form of representation rather than directly. It is therefore important to
understand how decisions are made locally and what are the methods of
communication, including available government extension services. The
range of groups outside the formal structure with relevant information are
likely to include: technical and scientific societies; Water User Groups;
NGOs; experts on local culture; and religious groups. However, it is
important to find out which groups are under-represented and which ones
are responsible for access to natural resources, namely: grazing, water,
fishing and forest products. The views of racial minorities, women,
religious minorities, political minorities and lower cast groups are
commonly overlooked, (World Bank,1991).
There has been an enormous increase in the number of environmental
NGOs and Green pressure groups throughout the world. Such
organizations often bring environmental issues to the attention of the local
press. However, this should not deter consultation with such organizations
as the approach to EIA should be open and positive with the aim of
making improvements. Relevant NGOs should be identified and their
experience and technical capacity put to good use.
In some countries, open public meetings are the most common
technique to enable public participation. However, the sort of open debate
engendered at such meetings is often both culturally alien and
unacceptable. Alternative techniques must be used. Surveys, workshops,
small group meetings and interviews with key groups and individuals are
all techniques that may be useful. Tools such as maps, models and posters
can help to illustrate points and improve communication. Where
resettlement is proposed, extensive public participation must be allowed
which will, at a minimum, involve an experienced anthropologist or
sociologist who speaks the local language. He/she can expect to spend
months, rather than weeks, in the field.
Information dissemination can be achieved using a number of
mechanisms including the broadcasting media, in particular newspapers
and radio. Posters and leaflets are also useful and need to be distributed

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

widely to such locations as schools, clinics, post offices, community


centres, religious buildings, bus stops, shops etc. The EIA process must be
seen to be fair.
The public participation/consultation and information dissemination
activities need to be planned and budgeted. The social scientist team
member should define how and when activities take place and also the
strategy: extensive field work is expensive. It is important to note that public
participation activities are often reported as a separate section of the final
EIA. Where experience of managing community involvement is limited,
training is highly recommended. Further reading on public participation
can be obtained from: Ahmed L and G K Sammy (1988) and on Rapid
Rural Appraisal from Chambers R (1981). Rapid Rural Appraisal techniques
may be an appropriate and cost effective method of assessment.

MANAGING UNCERTAINTY
An EIA involves prediction and thus uncertainty is an integral part.
There are two types of uncertainty associated with environmental impact
assessments: that associated with the process and, that associated with
predictions. With the former the uncertainty is whether the most important
impacts have been identified or whether recommendations will be acted
upon or ignored. For the latter the uncertainty is in the accuracy of the
findings. The main types of uncertainty and the ways in which they can be
minimized are discussed by de Jongh in Wathern (1988). They can be
summarized as follows:
uncertainty of prediction: this is important at the data collection stage
and the final certainty will only be resolved once implementation
commences. Research can reduce the uncertainty;
uncertainty of values: this reflects the approach taken in the EIA
process. Final certainty will be determined at the time decisions are
made. Improved communications and extensive negotiations should
reduce this uncertainty;
uncertainty of related decision: this affects the decision making
element of the EIA process and final certainty will be determined by
post evaluation. Improved coordination will reduce uncertainty.
The importance of very wide consultation cannot be overemphasized in
minimizing the risk of missing important impacts. The significance of
impacts is subjective, but the value judgements required are best arrived at
by consensus: public participation and consultation with a wide sector of
the community will reduce uncertainty. One commonly recurring theme is
the dilemma of whether to place greater value on short-term benefits or
long-term problems.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The accuracy of predictions is dependant on a variety of factors such as


lack of data or lack of knowledge. It is important not to focus on
predictions that are relatively easy to calculate at the expense of impacts
that may be far more significant but difficult to analyse. Prediction
capabilities are generally good in the physical and chemical sciences,
moderate in ecological sciences and poor in social sciences. Surveys are
the most wide-spread technique for estimating peoples responses and
possible future actions.
The results of the EIA should indicate the level of uncertainty with the
use of confidence limits and probability analyses wherever possible.
Sensitivity analysis similar to that used in economic evaluation, could be
used if adequate quantifiable data are available. A range of outcomes can
be found by repeating predictions and adjusting key variables.
EIA cannot give a precise picture of the future, much as the Economic
Internal Rate of Return cannot give a precise indication of economic
success. EIA enables uncertainty to be managed and, as such, is an aid to
better decision making. A useful management axiom is to preserve
flexibility in the face of uncertainty.

TECHNIQUES
Baseline studies
Baseline studies using available data and local knowledge will be
required for scoping. Once key issues have been identified, the need for
further in-depth studies can be clearly identified and any additional data
collection initiated. The ICID Check-list will be found useful to define both
coarse information required for scoping and further baseline studies
required for prediction and monitoring. Specialists, preferably with local
knowledge, will be needed in each key area identified. They will need to
define further data collection, to ensure that it is efficient and targeted to
answer specific questions, and to quantify impacts. A full year of baseline
data is desirable to capture seasonal effects of many environmental
phenomena. However, to avoid delay in decision making, short-term data
monitoring should be undertaken in parallel with long-term collection to
provide conservative estimates of environmental impacts.

The ICID Check-list


A comprehensive and user-friendly checklist is an invaluable aid for
several activities of an EIA, particularly scoping and defining baseline
studies. The ICID Environmental Check-List to Identify Environmental

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Effects of Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control Projects (Mock and


Bolton, 1993) is recommended for use in any irrigation and drainage EIA.
The Check-list has been prepared for non-specialists and enables much
time-consuming work to be carried out in advance of expert input. It
includes extensive data collection sheets. The collected data can then be
used to answer a series of questions to identify major impacts and to
identify shortages of data. A matrix indicates which data are linked to
which questions. Chapter 4 describes the major impacts based on the 8
Check-list topics.
The results sheet from the Check-list is reproduced as Table 1. The very
simple layout of the sheet enables an overview of impacts to be presented
clearly which is of enormous value for the scoping process. Similarly, data
shortages can be readily seen. The process of using the ICID Check-list
may be repeated at different stages of an EIA with varying levels of detail.
Once scoping has been completed, the results sheet may be modified to
omit minor topics and to change the horizontal classification to provide
further information about the impacts being assessed. At this point the
output from the Check-list can be useful as an input to matrices. The ICID
Check-list is also available as a WINDOWS based software package. This
enables the rapid production of a report directly from the field study.

Matrices
The major use of matrices is to indicate cause and effect by listing
activities along the horizontal axis and environmental parameters along the
vertical axis. In this way the impacts of both individual components of
projects as well as major alternatives can be compared. The simplest
matrices use a single mark to show whether an impact is predicted or not.
However it is easy to increase the information level by changing the size
of the mark to indicate scale, or by using a variety of symbols to indicate
different attributes of the impact. An example of a matrix is given as Table
2. The choice of symbols in this example enables the reader to see at a
glance whether or not there was an impact and, if so, whether the impact
was beneficial or detrimental, temporary or permanent. Figure 8 is another
example of a matrix, in this case used to clearly indicate the importance of
a range of wetland values.
ICOLD has prepared a large and comprehensive matrix for use in EIAs
for dams. The system of symbols for each box shows: whether the impact
is beneficial or detrimental; the scale of the impact; the probability of
occurrence; the time-scale of occurrence; and, whether the design has
taken the impact into account, (ICOLD, 1980). This comprehensive
approach, however, makes the final output rather difficult to use and a
maximum of three criteria is recommended per impact to maintain clarity.
Ahmad and Sammy (1985) suggest that the most important criteria are:
magnitude, or degree of change; geographical extent; significance; and,

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

special sensitivity. Significance could be further sub-divided to indicate


why an impact is significant. For example, it may be because of
irreversibility, economic vulnerability, a threat to rare species etc. Special
sensitivity refers to locally important issues. A series of matrices at all
stages of the EIA process can be a particularly effective way of presenting
information. Each matrix may be used to compare options rated against a
few criteria at a time.
The greatest drawback of matrices are that they can only effectively
illustrate primary impacts. Network diagrams, described below, are a
useful and complementary form of illustration to matrices as their main
purpose is to illustrate higher order impacts and to indicate how impacts
are inter-related.
Matrices help to choose between alternatives by consensus. One
method is to make pair-wise comparisons. It provides a simple way for a
group of people to compare a large number of options and reduce them to
a few choices. First a matrix is drawn with all options listed both
horizontally and vertically. Each option is then compared with every other
one and a score of 1 assigned to the preferred option or 0.5 to both
options if no preference is agreed. An example of such a matrix is given as
Table 3. As can be seen, Z is the preferred option.

30

TABLE 1 - Results sheet for assessing the ICID check-list

Imbalances

Health

Socio-economic

Ecology

Sediments

Soils

Pollution

Hydrology

1-1 Low flow regime


1-2 Flood regime
1-3 Operation od dams
1-4 Fall of water table
1-5 Rise of water table
2-1 Solute dispersion
2-2 Toxic substances
2-3 Organic pollution
2-4 Anaerobic effects
2-5 Gas emissions
3-1 soil salinity
3-2 Soil properties
3-3 Saline groundwater
3-4 Saline drainage
3-5 Saline intrusion
4-1 Local erosion
4-2 Hinterland effect
4-3 River morphology
4-4 Channel regime
4-5 Sedimentation
4-6 Estuary erosion
5-1 Project lands
5-2 Water bodies
5-3 Surronding area
5-4 Valleys & shores
5-5 Wetlands & plains
5-6 Rare species
5-7 Animal migration
5-8 Natural industry
6-1 Population change
6-2 Income & amenity
6-3 Human migration
6-4 Resettlement
6-5 Womens role
6-6 Minority groups
6-7 Sites of value
6-8 Regional effects
6-9 User involvement
6-10 Recreation
7-1 Water & sanitation
7-2 Habitation
7-3 Health services
7-4 Nutrition
7-5 Relocation effect
7-6 Disease ecology
7-7 Disease hosts
7-8 Disease control
7-9 Other hazards
8-1 Pests & weeds
8-2 Animal diseases
8-3 Aquatic weeds
8-4 Structural damage
8-5 Animal imbalances
Number of crosses

Positive impact
possible

No impact
likely

Negative impact
possible

Negative impact
very likely

No judgement
possible
as present

Comments

Positive impact
very likely

For each
enviromental
effect place
a cross (X) in one
of the columns

Project name/location: Assessment: 1st/2nd/


Assessors name/position: Date:

(Total = 53)

TABLE 2 - Ultimate net enviromental impact assessment at a glance, Feitsui reservoir


Features likely
to be affected

Roads
and
trails

Colony
Blasting
construction operation

Forestry/Vegetation
Birds
Fisheries
Other wildlife/
land animals
Sedimentation/erosion
Floods
Historical/ cultural
Monuments
Communications
Land/area development
Agriculture
Food production
Public revenue/income
Drinking water
Water quality
Air quality
Climate
Groundwater table
Industrialization
Housing
Employment/training
Health and safety
Scenic views and vistas
Tourism

-1P

+2P

Borrowing
of
materials

Importing
of
labour

Dam
Canal
Evacuation
construction construction and
rehabilition

Soil
Reservoir
conservation filling
and
landscaping

Irrigation

Hydro-power
generation

-1T

-1P
-2T
-1T

-1P
-1T
-1T

+4P
+3P
+2P

-3P
+4P
+3P

+3P
+2P
+2P

+1P

-1T
+2P
-1P

-1T
+2P
-1P

+2P
+3P
+1P

+3P
-1P
+3P

+2P
-1P

+1P
+2P
-1P
-2P
+3T
-1T
-2T
-1T

+2P
+2P
-1P
-1P
+2T

+3T
+1P
+4T
-1T
+2P

+2T
+1T
+2T
-1T
+2P

-2T
-1P
-1T

-1T
-1T

+3P
-2P
+2P
+2P
+2P

+2P
+2P
+2P
-1P
+1P
+2P
+1P

+1T

+1P
+2P
+1T

+1P
+2P

+2P
+2P

-1T

Notes: likely effects is symbolized as follows:


Mild
Considerable
Beneficial
+1
+2
Detrimental
-1
-2
T= temporary effect; P=permanent effect

-1T
-2T

-1T
-1T

-1T
+2P

-1T

high
+3
-3

-1T
-1T

-1T
-1P

very high
+4
-4

-1T
-2T

-2T
-2T

-1P
-1P
-1P

-2P
-1P
-1P
-2P

+2P
+2P
+2P
+2P
+1P
+1P

+2P
+2P
+2T
-2T

-2P
-1T
+2P
-1P
-1P
-2P
+4P
-1P
+2P
+2P
+2P
-2P

+2P
+3P
+3P

+2P
+4P
+3P

+4P
+4P
+4P
+4P
+3P
+1P
+1P
+1P
+2P
+3P
+1P
+2P
+2P
+2P
+1P

+2P
+3P
+3P
+3P
+3P
+2P

+3P
+1P
+2P
+2P
+2P

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

TABLE 3 - Example of pair-wise comparison


Compare alternative

With alternative
X
Y

W
X
Y
Z

1
1
0.5

0
0
1

0
1
1

Sum

0.5
0
0
-

0.5
2
1
2.5

A number of methods have been developed to compare impacts by


applying values to them. The relative importance of impacts, eg wetlands
loss versus rare species loss, or the relative importance of criteria, e.g.
economic vulnerability versus probability of occurrence, will depend on
the local environment and priorities. Ranking, and therefore implicitly
value, can be determined by using the pair-wise comparison technique
described above, except that, rather than comparing options, criteria are
compared instead. This can enable a series of weightings to be developed
which will be entirely site-specific and dependant upon the subjective
choices of those participating in the group which develops the weightings.
A simple example would be to develop weightings for environmental
versus economic acceptability. Thus, in the example illustrated in Figure 2,
weightings would have to be developed to determine the preference for
either option B or option C. Is more weight to be given to environmental
or economic criteria?
Reducing information about impacts to a single number should be
avoided as it obscures understanding and disguises the subjective nature of
the analysis. However, it can be useful to compare, for example, the
degree to which different mitigating options are effective in managing
water quality.

Network diagrams
A network diagram is a technique for illustrating how impacts are
related and what the consequences of impacts are. For example, it may be
possible to fairly accurately predict the impact of increased diversions or
higher irrigation efficiencies on the low flow regime of a river. However,
there may be many and far reaching secondary or tertiary consequences of
a change in low flow. These consequences can be illustrated using network
diagrams. For example, reduced low flows are likely to reduce the
production of fish which may or may not be of importance depending on
the value (either ecological or economic) of the fish. If fish are an
important component of diet or income, the reduction may lead to a local
reduction in the health status, impoverishment and possibly migration.

33

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Also, reduced low flow coupled with increased pollution, perhaps as a


result of increased agricultural industry, may further damage the fish
population as well as reduce access to safe water.
Table 4 shows an example of a network diagram for a proposed plan to
increase the use of groundwater for irrigation by providing subsidies for
sinking deep tube wells. This shows the primary through to quaternary
impacts, as anticipated at the scoping stage. The main crop in the area is
rice. Detailed prediction work following scoping would estimate the level to
which the groundwater would fall and quantify the impacts which, together
with economic analysis, would clarify which impacts were most important
and most likely and also determine the most suitable mitigation measures.
FIGURE 2 - Graphical comparison of alternatives. The final choiceof
either option B or option C will depend on the weighting chosen

Source: (Ahmad and Sammy, 1985)

Overlays
Overlays provide a technique for illustrating the geographical extent of
different environmental impacts. Each overlay is a map of a single impact. For
example, saline effected areas, deforested areas, limit of a groundwater
pollution plume etc can be analysed and clearly demonstrated to non experts.

34

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The original technique used transparencies which is somewhat cumbersome.


However, the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can
make this technique particularly suitable for comparing options,
pinpointing sensitive zones and proposing different areas or methods of
land management.

Mathematical modelling
Mathematical modelling is one of the most useful tools for prediction
work. It is the natural tool to assess both flow quantities and qualities (eg
salt/water balances, pollution transport, changing flood patterns).
However, it is essential to use methods with an accuracy which reflects
the quality of the input data, which may be quite coarse. It should also
be appreciated that model output is not necessarily an end in itself but
may be an input for assessing the impact of changes in economic, social
and ecological terms. Mathematical modelling was used very effectively
to study the Hadejia-Jamaare region in Nigeria. In this case the
modelling demonstrated the most effective method of operating upstream
reservoirs in order to conserve economically and socially valuable, and
ecologically important downstream wetlands. Optimal operation was
found to be considerably different from the traditional method originally
proposed. Under the revised regime the economic returns were also
found to be higher.

35

TABLE 4 - Example of network analysis showing of a policy to utilize groundwater by subsiding tubewells
Primary Impacts
Lowering of groundwater
in dry season

Secondary impacts

Tertiary impacts

Quaternary impacts

Loss of income & water from


domestic hand pump

Use of poorer quality water

Increased health risks

Income diverted to buy water

Decreased income & time

Travel to distant source

Reduced quality of life

Income diverted to buy water

Decreased income & time


leading to possible food shortage

Crop failure

Reduced quality of life

Loss of income & water from


shallow tubewells for irrigation

Mitigation
1. Ensure that the new DTW either
hold domestic water locally or feed
into distributary system
Note: Effected group are poorer people
1. Deepen STW
2. Ensure new DTWs supply STWs in dry season
3. Provide compensation from DTW taxation

Abandonment of land & migration


Drawdown of surface water bodies

Decreased fish capture/fish mortality

Loss of protein intake

1. Artificially stock water bodies


2. Recharge water bodies from DTW
Note: Fishermen are already poorer
than farmers in general

Loss of wetland

Loss of wetland flora/fauna migratory


birds, fish spawning areas

1. Restrict DTW development in vulnerable areas


Note: Landness & Rural poor are greatest
users of wetlands

Loss of wetland products

Agricultural intensification

Increased fertilizer

Increased pestidice use

Reduced navigation possibilities

Increased transport costs

1. Increase navigation depth by dredging

Groudwater contamination
by nitrate

Polluted drinking water by nitrate


causes various illness, particularly
in babies

1. Control fertilizer use


2. Educate users of groundwater as well
as fertilizer users babies

Eutrophication of surface water


due to runoff

Increased weeds in channels &


surface water bodies, algal blooms

1. Remove and control weeds


2. Educate about dangers of algal blooms

Groundwater contamination

More expensive alternative for


drinking water must be found

Poisoning of fish & shrimp

Reduction in fish catches


& protein availability

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Reduced income for fishermen

Regulate pesticide use


Encourage rainwater storage
Encourage integrated pest management
Subsidize non-persistent pesticides
Tax undesirable pesticides
Educate pesticide users & fish eaters

Bioaccumulation of pesticide in man


Increased level of pest & disease
vectors due to loss of fallow period

Increased pesticide use

Bioaccumulation of pesticide in man

Increase in animal & human disease


due to vector

Loss of quality of life

1. Vaccinate to prevent epidemics


2. Encourage alternative cropping patterns
3. Educate about disease vectors

Reduced fallow land & grassland


for grazing

Fewer livestock or poor


quality livestock

Reduced protein intake & income


for landness groups

1. Develop alternative grazing

Reduced scrubland for fuel wood

Alternative sources sought for fuel

Income & time spent collecting fuel

1. Develop fuelwood supplies


2. Introduce more efficient cookers

Destruction of trees

STW = shallow tubewells


DTW = deep tubewells

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Expert advice
Expert advice should be sought for predictions which are inherently
non-numeric and is particularly suitable for estimating social and cultural
impacts. It should preferably take the form of a consensus of expert
opinion. Local experience will provide invaluable insight. Expert opinions
are also likely to be needed to assess the implications of any modelling
predictions. For example, a model could be developed to calculate the
area of wetlands no longer annually flooded due to upstream abstractions.
However, the impact on wetland species or the reduction in wetland
productivity resulting from the reduced flooding may not be so precisely
quantifiable but require a prediction based on expert opinion.

Economic techniques
Economic techniques have been developed to try to value the
environment and research work is continuing in environmental economics.
This is a specialist subject and only a brief introduction is included here.
For more detailed information the reader is advised to read Winpenny
(1991) and other standard texts. It is important to stress that
environmentally sound development brings long term economic benefits.
Unfortunately, short term gains are often given priority.
The most commonly used methods of project appraisal are cost-benefit
and cost-effectiveness analysis. It has not been found easy to incorporate
environmental impacts into traditional cost-benefit analysis, principally
because of the difficulty in quantifying and valuing environmental effects.
An EIA can provide information on the expected effects and quantify, to
some extent, their importance. This information can be used by
economists in the preparation of cost-benefit calculations.
Cost effectiveness analysis can also be used to determine what is the most
efficient, least-cost method of meeting a given environmental objective;
with costs including forgone environmental benefits. However, defining
the objective may not be straightforward.
Valuing the environment raises complex and controversial issues. The
environment is of value to the actual users (such as fishermen), to potential
users (future generations or migrants), and to those who do not use it but
consider its existence to have an intrinsic value (perhaps to their quality
of life). Clearly it is difficult to quantify such values. Nevertheless,
attempts have been made and the two most useful methods for irrigation
projects in developing countries are Effect on Production (EOP) and
Preventive Expenditure and Replacement Costs (PE/RC). The EOP method
attempts to represent the value of change in output that results from the
environmental impact of the development. This method is relatively easy to
carry out and easily understood. An example would be the assessment of

37

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

the reduced value of fish catches due to water pollution or hydrological


changes. The PE/RC method makes an assessment of the value that people
place on preserving their environment by estimating what they are
prepared to pay to prevent its degradation (preventive expenditure) or to
restore its original state after it has been damaged (replacement cost). Both
methods have weaknesses and must be used judiciously.
Environmental health effects present similar problems, cost-effectiveness
analysis is a useful tool in the selection of mitigating or control measures,
but for ex-ante project appraisal the incompatibility of human health and
monetary values has forced economists to develop other techniques and
indicators. A recent publication by Phillips et al. (1993) deals with the
principles and methods of cost-effectiveness analysis and its application to
decisions about the control of vector-borne diseases, particularly the
control of disease vectors. In its World Development Report of 1993
(Investing in Health) the World Bank proposes the cost-utility analysis
which expresses health status in DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years).

FINAL REPORT - ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT


The final report of an EIA is often referred to as an Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS). In addition to summarizing the impacts of the
alternatives under study this report must include a section on follow up
action required to enable implementation of proposals and to monitor
long-term impacts. The purpose of an EIA is not to reach a decision but to
present the consequences of different choices of actions and to make
recommendations to a decision maker. Recommendations are a crucial
part of the Environmental Impact Statement. The format of the report
should preferably follow a standard as recommended by the appropriate
institution or required by legislation. The executive summary of the EIS
should only be 2 to 5 pages long and the main report, excluding
appendices should be preferably about 50 pages long and no more than
100. An exceptionally complex study might require 150 pages.
Experts preparing an EIA must appreciate that the final report will be
read by a wide range of people and the subject matter may be technically
complex. Senior administrators and planners may not understand the
importance of technical arguments unless they are presented carefully
and clearly. The quality of the executive summary is particularly important
as some decision-makers may only read this part of the report. The
executive summary must include the most important impacts (particularly
those that are unavoidable and irreversible), the key mitigating measures,
proposed monitoring and supervision requirements, and the
recommendations of the report.

38

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The main text should maximize the use of visual aids such as maps,
drawings, photographs, tables and diagrams. Matrices, network diagrams,
overlays and graphical comparisons should all be included. The main text
should cover the following points (adapted from EBRD (1992) and World
Bank (1991)):
A description of the programme, plan or project including the
physical, social and ecological context as well as the time-scale of
the proposals under study. Any major revisions made as a result of the
scoping process should be identified here.
A summary of the EIA methodology, including the limits of the study
and the reasons for them.
The policy, legal and administrative framework within which the
project is situated.
A summary of the baseline data providing an overall picture of
present conditions and physical, biological and ecological trends. The
consequences of the no-action option should be described together
with a brief description of other developments taking place and their
relationship to the study proposal.
A description of the governmental and non-governmental
participation during the EIA.
Environmental impacts. The most significant beneficial and adverse
environmental impacts associated with the options studied need to be
clearly stated. Impacts need to be quantified wherever possible and
uncertainties in the results need to highlighted, whether due to a lack
of knowledge, lack of data or to critical but indeterminate
assumptions such as future policy. The results of economic analyses
need to be presented in the same section. Mitigation and
enhancement measures that are proposed may either be presented
together with information on the environmental impacts or as a
separate section. Impacts with no effective mitigation need to be
clearly identified as such.
The Environmental Action Plan needs to be presented in two sections.
The first part covers the implementation of proposed mitigation
measures, including both costs and training, and institutional
enhancements required to implement them. The second part should
cover monitoring requirements to measure predicted impacts and to
determine the success of mitigation measures. Again, costs and
institutional requirements need to be included for each major
proposal. A clear programme of implementation should be given.
Recommendations and guidance to the decision maker.
A statement of provision for auditing, who should carry it out and
when.

39

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The appendixes should include:


a glossary of technical terms and units
a list of the team who prepared the EIA
records of public meetings and consultations
a catalogue of information, both data and written material,
and their source
technical information too detailed for the main text.

40

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Major Impacts of
Irrigation and
Drainage Projects
When considering impacts, two perspectives must be taken into
account, those of:
the project on the environment, and
external factors on the project (externalities).
In the detailed sections below, many of the impacts described are most
extreme in the case of new irrigated areas. However, rehabilitation and
changes resulting from alterations to the operating infrastructure, for
example, will also have environmental impacts that may not at first be
anticipated. The intensification of agriculture can lead to groundwater
pollution related to the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Improved efficiency may significantly reduce return flows which are often
utilized downstream by other irrigation schemes or wildlife habitats.
Similarly, upstream developments are likely to impact on an irrigation
scheme either in the form of reduced water availability (surface or
groundwater) or reduced water quality.
Different types of irrigation will have different impacts and it should not
be assumed that modern methods will have fewer impacts: they may
significantly increase energy consumption and lead to social problems due
to reduced employment in agriculture. Impacts will also vary according to
the stage of implementation. For example, during the construction period
there may be specific health and other social risks due to an influx of
migrant workers living in temporary and unsanitary accommodation. Later,
once the project has been operating for several years, cumulative impacts
may begin to present serious environmental constraints to project
sustainability. Such issues must be predicted by the EIA and mitigation
measures prepared.
The most common problems of, and threats to, irrigation schemes are
listed in Table 5, together with potential mitigation measures. Irrigation is
defined as much, if not more, by farmers and managers as by the physical
infrastructure; the hardware. Its sustainable operation is just as
dependent on the soft environment:education, institutional building,
legal structures and external support services. These are all powerful tools
to ensure sustainability in conjunction with well-designed and wellmanaged hardware and Table 5 indicates that many of the mitigation
measures are soft.

41

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

TABLE 5 - Main problems resulting in the non-sustainability of irrigation


and drainage schemes and appropriate mitigation measures
Problem

Mitigation measures

Degradation of irrigated land:


Salinization
Alkalization
Waterlogging
Soil acidification

Improve I & D operation to match demand both how much & when.
Provide drainage including disposal of water to evaporation ponds or
the sea if quality of river flow adversely affected by drainage water.
Maintain channels to prevent seepage, and reduce inefficiencies
resulting from siltation and weeds. Allow for access to channels for
maintenance in design.
Provide water for leaching as a specific operation.
Set-up or adjust irrigation management infrastructure to ensure
sufficient income to maintain both the irrigation and drainage systems.
Analyse soils and monitor changes so that potential problems can be
managed.

Reduced socio-economic conditions:


Increased incidence of water-related disease
Increased inequity
Weaker community infrastructure

Poor water quality:


Reduction in irrigation water quality
Water quality problems for downstream
users caused by irrigation return flow quality

Define and enforce return water quality levels (including monitoring).


Control industrial development.
Designate land for saline water disposal; build separate disposal
channels.
Educate for pesticide or sewage contamination dangers.
Monitor irrigation water quality

Ecological degradation:
Reduced bio-diversity in project area
Damage to downstream ecosystems due
to reduced water quantity and quality

Define ecological requirements.


Operate dams to suit downstream requirements and encourage
wildlife around reservoirs (see Sections 4.1.3 and 4.5).
Designate land (in law and supported by protection institutions) for
flood plains; wetlands; watersheds; drainage water disposal; river
corridors.

Ground water depletion:


Dry drinking & irrigation wells
Saline intrusion at coasts
Reduced base flow / wetlands

Define and enforce abstraction regulations.


Monitor ground water levels.
Adjust abstraction charges.

Manage I & D to prevent disease spread.


Educate about causes of disease.
Improve health facilities.
Allow sufficient time and money for extensive public participation to
ensure that plans are optimal, that all sections of affected society are
considered and that local institutions are in place to sustain irrigated
agriculture, particularly in respect of land and water rights.
Consider markets, financial services and agricultural extension in
conjunction with proposed irrigation and drainage changes.
Ensure that agricultural intensification does not preclude other
economic or subsistence activity, such as household vegetables,
fodder or growing trees for firewood.
Provide short-term support and/or skills for an alternative livelihood if
irrigation removes existing livelihood

42

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

The sections below describe the most common environmental impacts


associated with irrigation schemes. Under each item, both positive and
negative impacts are briefly described and the most usual mitigating
measures outlined. The opportunity to identify positive impacts and to
propose measures to enhance such impacts should not be neglected. The
structure of the chapter generally follows that of the ICID Environmental
Check-list and is divided into eight major sections. As a slight deviation
from the Check-list, human health has been included, in order to present
the human health dimensions of the environmental impacts.

HYDROLOGY
This section is concerned with the consequences of impacts resulting
from a change in the flow regime of rivers, or a change in the movement
of the water table, through the seasons. The consumptive nature of
irrigation means that some change to the local hydrological regime will
occur when new schemes are constructed and, to a lesser extent, when
old schemes are rehabilitated. The ecology and uses of a river will have
developed as a consequence of the existing regime and may not be able to
adapt easily to major changes. It is also important to recognize the
interrelationship between river flows and the water table. During high flow
periods, recharge tends to occur through the river bed whereas
groundwater often contributes to low flows. Figure 3 is a conceptual
diagram of flow through a river-supplied irrigation scheme. Figure 4
illustrates the links between surface and groundwater.

Low flow regime


Changes to the low flow regime may have significant negative impacts
on downstream users, whether they abstract water (irrigation schemes,
drinking supplies) or use the river for transportation or hydropower.
Minimum demands from both existing and potential future users need to
be clearly identified and assessed in relation to current and future low
flows. The quality of low flows is also important. Return flows are likely to
have significant quantities of pollutants. Low flows need to be high enough
to ensure sufficient dilution of pollutants discharged from irrigation
schemes and other sources such as industry and urban areas. A reduction
in the natural river flow together with a discharge of lower quality drainage
water can have severe negative impacts on downstream users, including
irrigation schemes.

43

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Habitats both within and alongside rivers are particularly rich, often
supporting a high diversity of species. Large changes to low flows ( 20%)
will alter micro-habitats of which wetlands are a special case. It is
particularly important to identify any endangered species and determine
the impact of any changes on their survival. Such species are often
endangered because of their restrictive ecological requirements. An
example is the Senegal river downstream of the Manantali Dam where the
extent of wetlands has been considerably reduced, fisheries have declined
and recession irrigation has all but disappeared.
The ecology of estuaries is sensitive to the salinity of the water which may
be determined by the low flows. Saline intrusion into the estuary will also
affect drinking water supplies and fish catches. It may also create breeding
places for anopheline vectors of malaria that breed in brackish water.
The operation of dams offers excellent opportunities to mitigate the
potential negative impacts of changes to low flows.

44

FIGURE 3 - Conceptual diagram of the irrigation return flow system for a given reach of a river system

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects


45

Source: (Utah State University Foundation, 1969)

FIGURE 4 - The interrelationship between surface water and groundwater

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects


46

Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Flood regime
Uncontrolled floods cause tremendous damage and flood control is
therefore often an added social and environmental benefit of reservoirs
built to supply irrigation water. However, flood protection works, although
achieving their purpose locally, increase flooding downstream, which
needs to be taken into account.
Radically altered flood regimes may also have negative impacts. Any
disruption to flood recession agriculture needs to be studied as it is often
highly productive but may have low visibility due to the migratory nature
of the farmers practising it. Flood waters are important for fisheries both in
rivers and particularly in estuaries. Floods trigger spawning and migration
and carry nutrients to coastal waters. Controlled floods may result in
areduction of groundwater recharge via flood plains and a loss of seasonal
or permanent wetlands. Finally, changes to the river morphology may
result because of changes to the sediment carrying capacity of the flood
waters. This may be either a positive or negative impact.
As with low flows, the operation of dams offers excellent opportunities
to mitigate the potential negative impacts of changes to flood flows. The
designation of flood plains may also be a useful measure that allows
groundwater recharge and reduces peak discharges downstream. This is
one of the positive functions of many areas of wetland.
It is important that new irrigation infrastructure does not adversely effect
the natural drainage pattern, thus causing localized flooding.

Operation of dams
The manner in which dams are operated has a significant impact on the
river downstream. There is a range of measures that can be undertaken to
reduce adverse environmental impacts caused by changing the
hydrological regime that need not necessarily reduce the efficacy of the
dam in terms of its main functions, namely irrigation, flood protection and
hydropower. Multi-purpose reservoirs offer enormous scope for minimizing
adverse impacts. In the case of modifying low flows, identifying
downstream demands to determine minimum compensatory flows, both
for the natural and human environment, is the key requirement and such
demands need to be allowed for at the design stage. The ability to mimic
natural flooding may require modifications to traditional dam offtake
facilities. In particular, passing flood flows early in the season to enable
timely recession agriculture may have the added advantage of passing
flows carrying high sediment loads.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

A number of disease hazards are associated with dams some of which


can be minimized, others eliminated by careful operation. They include
malaria, schistosomiasis and river blindness; this is discussed more fully in
the section Human health.
Rooted aquatic weeds along the shore (or in shallow reservoirs) can be
partially controlled by alternate desiccation and drowning. In some parts
of the world local communities are willing to de-weed reservoirs and use
the weeds as animal fodder.

Fall of water table


A possible advantage of reducing the water table level prior to the rainy
season is that it may increase the potential for groundwater recharge.
Lowering the water table by the provision of drainage to irrigation schemes
with high water tables brings benefits to agriculture.
Lowering the groundwater table by only a few metres adversely affects
existing users of groundwater whether it is required for drinking water for
humans and animals or to sustain plant life (particularly wetlands),
especially at dry times of the year. Springs are fed by groundwater and will
finally dry up if the level falls. Similarly low flows in rivers will be
reduced. Any changing availability of groundwater for drinking water
supply needs to be assessed in terms of the economics of viable
alternatives. Poor people may be disproportionately disadvantaged.
They may also be forced to use sources of water that carry health risks,
particularly guinea worm infection and schistosomiasis. In parts of Asia
there are indications that lowering the ground level may favour the sandfly
which may be vectors for diseases such as visceral leishmaniasis.
Saline intrusion along the coast is a problem associated with a falling
groundwater level with severe environmental and economic consequences.
A continued reduction in the water table level (groundwater mining),
apart from deleting an important resource, may lead to significant land
subsidence with consequent damage to structures and difficulties in
operating hydraulic structures for flood defence, drainage and irrigation.
Todd (1980) gives an example of a drop in ground level of over 3 m
associated with a 60 m drop in groundwater level over a period of 50
years in the Central Valley, California. Vulnerable areas are those with
compressible strata, such as clays and some fine-grainedsediments. Any
structural change in the soil is often irreversible. The ground level can fall
with a lowering of the water table if the soils are organic. Peats shrink and
compact significantly on draining, with consequent lowering of the ground
level by several metres.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Particular care is needed in the drainage of tropical coastal swamp


regions as the FeS04 soils can become severely acidic resulting in the
formation of cat-clays.
A number of negative consequences of a falling water table are
irreversible and difficult to compensate for, eg salt water intrusion and land
subsidence, and therefore groundwater abstraction needs controlling either
by licensing, other legal interventions or economic disincentives. Overexploitation of groundwater, or groundwater mining, will have severe
consequences, both environmental and economic, and should be given
particular importance in any EIA.

Rise of water table


In the long-term, one of the most frequent problems of irrigation
schemes is the rise in the local water-table (waterlogging). Low irrigation
efficiencies (as low as 20 to 30% in some areas) are one of the main
causes of rise of water table. Poor water distribution systems, poor main
system management and archaic in-field irrigation practices are the main
reason. The ICID recommendation to increase field application efficiency
to even 50% could significantly reduce the rise in the groundwater. The
groundwater level rise can be spectacularly fast in flat areas where the
water table has a low hydraulic gradient. The critical water table depth is
between 1.5 and 2 m depending on soil characteristics, the potential
evapotranspiration rate and the root depth of the vegetation/crops.
Groundwater rising under capillary action will evaporate, leaving salts in
the soil. The problem is of particular concern in arid and semi-arid areas
with major salinity problems. A high water table also makes the soil
difficult to work.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

FIGURE 5 - Causes and impacts of reduced water quality


in a river system

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Good irrigation management, closely matching irrigation demands and


supply, can reduce seepage and increase irrigation efficiency, thereby
reducing the groundwater recharge. The provision of drainage will alleviate
the problem locally but may create problems if the disposal water is of a
poor quality. Apart from measures to improve water management, two
options to reduce seepage are to line canals in highly permeable areas and
to design the irrigation infrastructure to reduce wastage. Waterlogging also
implies increased health risks in many parts of the world.

WATER AND AIR QUALITY


In general the purer the water, the more valuable and useful it is for
riverine ecology and for abstractions to meet human demands such as
irrigation, drinking and industry. Conversely, the more polluted the water,
the more expensive it is to treat to satisfactory levels. The causes and
impacts of reduced water quality are illustrated in Figure 5. Tables 6, 7 and
8 are generalized water quality standards for irrigation, drinking and freshwater fisheries. As soil salinity levels rise above plant tolerance levels, both
crops and natural vegetation are affected. This leads to disruption of natural
food chains and the loss of agricultural production. The critical problem of
salinity is covered in the section Soil properties and salinity effects.

Solute dispersion
The changing hydrological regime associated with irrigation schemes
may alter the capacity of the environment to assimilate water soluble
pollution. In particular, reductions in low flows result in increased
pollutant concentrations already discharged into the water course either
from point sources, such as industry, irrigation drains and urban areas, or
from non-point sources, such as agrochemicals leaking into groundwater
and soil erosion. Reduced flood flows may remove beneficial flushing, and
reservoirs may cause further concentration of pollutants. Where low flows
increase, for example as a result of hydropower releases, the effect on
solute dispersion is likely to be beneficial, particularly if the solutes are not
highly soluble and tend to move with sediments.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Toxic substances
Dissolved salts may be present in high enough concentrations to be
toxic (eg naturally occurring selenium in the soils of the Central Valley,
California and boron in Southern Peru). However, pesticides are a more
common source of poisons associated with irrigation schemes. They are
poisonous to plants, fish, birds and mammals including humans. Persistent
chemicals are a threat to aquatic systems even when not soluble, as many
bond chemically to soil particles and may be transported by erosion.
Persistent organochlorine insecticides (eg DDT, dieldrin and endosulfan)
are particularly hazardous to aquatic systems and become rapidly
concentrated in the food chain. Non-specific herbicides can rapidly affect
the supply of food. Pesticide risks are likely to increase if a monoculture is
practised, so that weeds and pests are not controlled by rotation, or if the
method of agricultural management requires high applications, such as
low tillage methods.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

TABLE 6 - Guidelines for interpretation of water quality for irrigation1


Potential Irrigation Problem
Salinity

Degree of Restriction on Use


Slight to Moderate
Severe

Units

None

dS/m

< 0.7

0.7 - 3.0

> 3.0

mg/l

< 450

450 - 2000

> 2000

(affects crop water availability)

ECw
(or)
TDS
Infiltration
(affects infiltration rate of water into the
soil.
3
Evaluate using ECw and SAR together)

SAR =0 - 3
and Ecw
=3 - 6
=6 - 12
=12 - 20
=20 - 40

=
=
=
=
=

>
>
>
>
>

0.7
1.2
1.9
2.9
5.0

0.7
1.2
1.9
2.9
5.0

0.2
0.3
0.5
1.3
2.9

<
<
<
<
<

0.2
0.3
0.5
1.3
2.9

Specific Ion Toxicity


(affects sensitive crops)
4
Sodium (Na)

surface irrigation
sprinkler irrigation

SAR
me/l

<3
<3

3-9
>3

>9

me/l
me/l

<4
<3

4 - 10
>3

> 10

mg/l

< 0.7

0.7 - 3.0

> 3.0

(affects susceptible 5crops)


Nitrogen (NO3 - N)

mg/l

<5

5 - 30

> 30

Bicarbonate (HCO3)
(overhead sprinkling only)

me/l

< 1.5

1.5 - 8.5

> 8.5

Chloride (CI)

surface irrigation
sprinkler irrigation
Boron (B)

Miscellaneous Effects

Normal Range
6.5 - 8.4

pH

Source: (Ayers and Westcot, 1976)


1:
2:
3:
4:
5:

Adapted from University of California Committee of Consultants 1974.


ECw mean electrical conductivity, a measure of the water salinity, reported in deciSiemens per metre at
25C (dS/m) or in units millimhos per centimetre (mmho/cm).Both are equivalent.TDS means total
dissolved solids, reported in milligrams per litre (mg/l).
SAR means sodium adsorption ratio.At a given SAR, infiltration rate increases as water salinity increases.
Adapted from Rhoades 1977, and Oster and Schroer 1979.
For surface irrigation, most tree crops and woody plants are sensitive to sodium and chloride.
Most annual crops are not sensitive.With overhead sprinkler irrigation and low humidity (<30 percent),
sodium and chloride may be absorbed through the leaves of sensitive crops.
NO3 - N means nitrate nitrogen reported in terms of elemental nitrogen (NH4 - N and Organic -N should
be included when wastewater is being tested).

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

TABLE 7 - Inorganic constituents for drinking water quality


Characteristic

Health-based
guideline

Characteristic

Consumer
acceptability
level

Antimony (mg/l)
Arsenic (mg/l)
Barium (mg/l)
Boron (mg/l)
Cadmium (mg/l)
Chromium (mg/l)
Copper (mg/l)
Cyanide (mg/l)
Fluoride (mg/l)
Lead (mg/l)
Manganese (mg/l)
Mercury (mg/l)
Molybdenum (mg/l)
Nickel (mg/l)
Nitrate (mg/l)
Nitrite (mg/l)
Selenium (mg/l)
Uranium (1g/l)

0.005
0.01
0.7
0.3
0.003
0.05
2
0.07
1.5
0.01
0.5
0.001
0.07
0.02
50
3
0.01
140

Aluminium (mg/l)
Chloride (mg/l)
Hardness as Ca CO3 (mg/l)
Hydrogen Sulphide (mg/l)
Iron (mg/l)
Manganese (mg/l)
pH
Sodium (mg/l)
Sulphate (mg/l)
Total dissolved solids (mg/l)
Zinc (mg/l)

0.2
250
500
0.05
0.3
0.1
6.5 - 9.5
200
250
1200
4

Source: (WHO, 1993)


Chemicals have become an essential part of agricultural production and
the benefits are enormous. However, when misused, the adverse impacts
can be extensive.
Contamination of soil by the following metals is of particular concern:
aluminium, arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cadmium, mercury, nickel,
antimony and tin. Other elements are of ecotoxicological importance but
are also plant nutrients, namely: boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese,
molybdenum and zinc. This is a specialist subject and local knowledge
will be important.
The use of water for irrigation containing sewage or industrial wastes
should be of particular concern in an EIA and the WHO Health Guidelines
for the Use of Wastewater in Agriculture and Aquaculture (1989) will be
very helpful.
The industrial processing of crops, or preparation of agricultural inputs,
may involve or produce toxic substances, the safe disposal of which
should fall within the remit of any EIA. The International Programme on
Chemical Safety (IPCS), a joint WHO/ILO/UNEP programme, produces
standards and guidelines on safety.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Agrochemical pollution
A high nutrient level is essential for productive agriculture. However,
the use of both natural and chemical fertilizers may result in an excess of
nutrients which can cause problems in water bodies and to health. Nitrates
are highly soluble and therefore may quickly reach water bodies.
Phosphates tend to be fixed to soil particles and therefore reach water
courses when soil is eroded. Phosphate saturated soils and high phosphate
level groundwater are now found in some developed countries.
TABLE 8 - Water quality for freshwater fish (temperate zone excluding salmonids)
Characteristic

Level at which no stress is shown

Dissolved oxygen
Non-ionized ammonia

50% of the time 7 mg/l O2


0.025 mg/l NH3

Notes:
1 The two parameters to which fish are most sensitive are temperature
and dissolved oxygen. Oxygen is less soluble in water at higher
temperatures. Also more non-ionized
ammonia, which is toxic to fish,
1+
moves into solution from NH4 as the temperature rises as well as
with an increase in pH. The higher the ambient temperature, the
closer fish are living to their upper tolerance limit and the less able
they are to tolerate changes to their environment. Organic pollution
will reduce the dissolved oxygen content of the water.
2 A wide range of heavy metals, industrial pollutants and agrochemicals
are toxic to fish.
3 More information may be obtained from various FAO Fisheries
Technical Papers.
Source: (EC Council directive (78/659/EEC) on the quality of fresh
waters needing protection or improvements in order to support fish life.)
High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause health problems in
small children. However, the transport of pathogens resulting from the use
of excreta as a fertilizer or from poor sanitation causes widespread health
problems from viruses, bacteria and protozoans capable of causing a range
of diseases from minor stomach upsets to cholera and hepatitis.
A high nutrient level is toxic to some aquatic life and encourage rapid
rates of algae growth which tends to decrease the oxygen level of the water
and thus lead to the suffocation of fish and other aquatic biota. Clear water
enhances the effect as it enables increased photosynthesis to take place:
reservoirs and slow-moving water are therefore most at risk. Some algae
produce toxins, and if deoxygenation is severe, eutrophic conditions occur.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Reservoirs with a high level of organic pollution, including human


waste, provide an ideal habitat for the breeding of culicine mosquitos that
transmit filariasis.

Anaerobic effects
Most anaerobic conditions in water bodies are the result of an oversupply of nutrients, as discussed above, resulting in eutrophication. In
reservoirs, anaerobic conditions may occur in the deeper areas as organic
material on the bed decays in an environment with progressively less
oxygen. Reservoirs should be cleared of organic matter, prior to
impoundment to limit anaerobic decomposition once the dam is filled.
Anaerobic conditions also occur when water is so polluted as to kill most
aquatic life. Anaerobic decomposition should be avoided as it produces
gases such as hydrogen sulphide, methane and ammonia all of which are
poisonous and some of which contribute to the greenhouse effect. The
production of greenhouse gases may also be produced by irrigated rice fields
and this is being investigated by the International Rice Research Institute.
Multi-level outlets may be required for deep reservoirs to ensure that
flows are sufficiently oxygenated for downstream aquatic life.

Gas emissions
Irrigated areas can become contaminated by emissions from industry,
particularly areas that are close to urban or industrial sites.

SOIL PROPERTIES AND SALINITY EFFECTS


On-going comprehensive soil studies are essential to the successful
management of irrigated areas. A wide range of activities associated with
an increased intensity of production can contribute to reduced soil fertility.
Soil salinity is probably the most important issue although mono-cropping,
without a fallow period, rapidly depletes the soil fertility. A reduction in
organic content will contribute to a soils erodability. The increased use of
agro-chemicals, needed to retain productivity under intensification, can
introduce toxic elements that occur in fertilizers and pesticides.
Arable land is continuously going out of production at approximately 5
to 7 million hectares per year (approx 0.5%) due to soil degradation (FAO,
1992). On irrigated lands salinization is the major cause of land being lost
to production and is one of the most prolific adverse environmental
impacts associated with irrigation. Saline conditions severely limit the

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

choice of crop, adversely affect crop germination and yields, and can
make soils difficult to work. Careful management can reduce the rate of
salinity build up and minimize the effects on crops. Management strategies
include: leaching; altering irrigation methods and schedules; installing subsurface drainage; changing tillage techniques; adjusting crop patterns; and,
incorporating soil ameliorates. All such actions, which may be very costly,
would require careful study to determine their local suitability. Figure 6
indicates the sensitivity of a range of important crops to soil salinity.
It is important that all evaluation regarding irrigation water quality (see
Ayers and Westcot, 1985) is linked to the evaluation of the soils to be
irrigated. Low quality irrigation waters might be hazardous on heavy,
clayey soils, while the same water could be used satisfactorily on sandy
and/or permeable soils.

Soil salinity
There are four main reasons for an increase in soil salinity on an
irrigation scheme:
salts carried in the irrigation water are liable to build up in the soil
profile, as water is removed by plants and the atmosphere at a much
faster rate than salts. The salt concentration of incoming flows may
increase in time with development activities upstream and if rising
demand leads to drain water reuse;
solutes applied to the soil in the form of artificial and natural fertilizers
as well as some pesticides will not all be utilized by the crop;
salts which occur naturally in soil may move into solution or may
already be in solution in the form of saline groundwater. This problem
is often severe in deserts or arid areas where natural flushing of salts
(leaching) does not occur. Where the groundwater level is both high
and saline, water will rise by capillary action and then evaporate,
leaving salts on the surface and in the upper layers of the soil; and
the transfer from rainfed to irrigation of a single crop, or the transfer
from single to double irrigation may create a humidity/salinity
bridge in the soil, between a deep saline groundwater and the (so
far) salt-free surface layers of the soil. Careful soil
monitoringishighlyrecommendedwheneverthe irrigated regime is
intensified, eventhough the saline layers might be far below the soil
surface and the irrigation water applied is of high quality.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

FIGURE 6 - Yield potential of selected crops as influenced


by soil salinity (ECe)

Note:
ECe means average root zone salinity as measured by electrical
conductivity of the saturation extract of the soil, reported in decisiemens
per metre (dS/m) at 25C.
Source: (Ayers and Westcot, 1985)
Unless there is some drainage from the scheme, whether natural or
artificial, salinity problems will arise with consequent adverse impacts for
agriculture.

Soil properties
The accumulation of salts in soils can lead to irreversible damage to soil
structure essential for irrigation and crop production. Effects are most extreme
in clay soils where the presence of sodium can bring about soil structural
collapse. This makes growing conditions very poor, makes soils very difficult
to work and prevents reclamation by leaching using standard techniques.
Gypsum in the irrigation water or mixed into the soil before irrigation is a
practice that is used to reduce the sodium content of sodic soils.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

In certain areas, in particular in tropical coastal swamps, acid sulphate


soils may be a problem. The danger of potential soil acidification needs to
be considered. The transfer from rainfed to irrigated crop production, or
intensification of existing irrigated crop production requires a higher level
of nutrient availability in the soil profile. If this aspect is not given adequate
attention, the irrigation efficiency remains low. High water losses through
the profile will result and useful cations may be washed out from the soilcomplex. A general lowering of pH may result in a decrease of the plants
capability to take up nutrients. The decrease of pH may also result in an
increased availability/release of heavy metals in the soil profile. Rectifying
soil acidification problems can be very costly. For similar reasons the
content of organic material in the soil may decrease. Such decrease leads to
a degradation of soil structure and to a general decrease of soil fertility.

Saline groundwater
An increase in the salinity of the groundwater is often associated with
waterlogging. An appropriate and well-maintained drainage network will
mitigate against such effects. Saline groundwater can be particularly
critical in coastal regions.

Saline drainage
Drainage may not be required initially but it should be allowed for if
there is insufficient natural drainage. Areas with a flat topography or with
water tables that have a low hydraulic gradient are at risk from salinization
as are areas with soils of a low permeability which are difficult to leach.
Groundwater drains, either pipe (tile) drains or deep ditches, carry out the
dual task of controlling the water table and through leaching,
counteracting the build up of salts in the soil profile. Normally water is
applied in excess of the crop water requirement and soluble salts are
carried away in the drainage water although in some areas leaching can be
achieved during the rainy season.
An increase in solute concentration from the applied irrigation water to
the drain water cannot be prevented. Typically salt concentrations in
drainage water are 2 to 10 times higher than in irrigation water, (Hotes and
Pearson in Worthington E B (ed), 1977). The quantity of drainage water can
be reduced by good irrigation management though this will tend to have
the effect of making the quality worse. Reducing salt inputs is one way of
improving drain water quality. The safe disposal of salts is of prime
importance, either to the sea (using dedicated channels if river quality is
threatened) or to designated areas such as evaporation ponds where the
negative impacts can be contained. Leaching typically requires an extra
10-20% of water.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Saline intrusion
The location of the boundary between fresh and salt water at the coast
line is a function of the hydraulic potential of the fresh water. A lowered
water table will result in the boundary moving inland as the pressure
reduces. Large numbers of people may be affected by a reduction in the
quality of their drinking supplies when fresh water is replaced by salty
water. Moreover, people may be forced to turn to sources of water whose
collection and use have important health risks. The plant life in the area
may also change as only salt tolerant species survive. The environmental
effects can be irreversible as reversing the movement of a salt water wedge
is usually both difficult and very expensive.
Changes to the flow regime may alter the salinity of the estuary. This is
likely to have a major impact on the local ecology: a highly productive
habitat which is often sensitive to salinity levels.
FIGURE 7 - Factors affecting soil erosion

Source: (Petermann, 1993, after Morgan, 1981)

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

EROSION AND SEDIMENTATION


Upstream erosion may result in the delivery of fertile sediments to delta
areas. However, this gain is a measure of the loss of fertility of upstream
eroded lands. A major negative impact of erosion and the associated
transport of soil particles is the sedimentation of reservoirs and abstraction
points downstream, such as irrigation intakes and pumping stations.
Desilting intakes and irrigation canals is often the major annual
maintenance cost on irrigation schemes. The increased sediment load is
likely to change the river morphology which, together with the increased
turbidity, will effect the downstream ecology.
Soil erosion rates are greatest when vegetative cover is reduced and can
be 10 to 100 times higher under agriculture compared with other land
uses. However, there are a wide range of management and design
techniques available to minimize and control erosion. For erosion to take
place, soil particles need to be first dislodged and then transported by
either wind or water. Both actions can be prevented by erosion control
techniques which disperse erosive energy and avoid concentrating it. For
example, providing good vegetative cover will disperse the energy of rain
drops and contour drainage will slow down surface runoff. See Figure 7 for
factors effecting erosion potential.

Local erosion
The method of irrigation profoundly affects the vulnerability of the land
to erosion. Because irrigated land is wetter, it is less able to absorb rainfall
and runoff will therefore be higher. Field size, stream size (drop size),
slope and field layout are all difficult to change and all significantly affect
erosion rates. Careful design can avoid the occurrence of erosion
problems. Agricultural practices affect soil structure and therefore the soils
erosivity, or the ease with which particles are dislodged. In general landforming for irrigation, such as land-levelling and the construction of field
bunds, tends to reduce erosion.
Archaic in-field water management practices involving poor cut and fill
operations through watercourse embankments can result in serious local
erosion at the head end of the irrigated field and in sedimentation at the
mid or tail-end locations of the field. The micro-topography of a field will
thus be disturbed. Unavoidably, this effect creates disproportionate water
distribution over the irrigated field. In addition it might create disputes
between water users. Improved water management practices related to
surface irrigation methods (for example by using gates, siphons, checks)
can reduce such hazards.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Irrigation infrastructure needs to be designed to ensure that localized


erosion, eg gully formation, does not occur. Construction activities
generally expose soil to erosion. Following the completion of construction
work, vegetation should be established around structures so that bare soil
is not exposed to erosive forces.

Hinterland effect
The development of irrigation schemes in developing countries is often
associated with an increase in intensity of human activity in areas
surrounding the scheme. This may be due to people moving into the area
as a result of the increased economic activity or may be carried out by
farmers and their families who are directly engaged in irrigation activities.
In either case typical activities are: more intensive rain fed agriculture; an
increase in the number of livestock; and, greater use of forests,
particularly for fuel wood. All these activities are liable to increase
erosion in the area by decreasing vegetative cover which will have a
detrimental effect on the local fertility and ecology as well as contribute
to sediment related problems.
Clearing higher non-irrigated parts of the catchment can result in a
rising downstream water table. In areas where the groundwater is saline
the higher recharge may cause higher salinity levels in the rivers and
cause pressure levels in the lower irrigated areas to rise thus impeding
leaching. This can be prevented by planting deeper rooting crops and
trees in the higher lands. This phenomenon has been observed in Southeastern Australia.
Mitigating actions can be put in place relatively easily with forethought
as to problems that might arise. For example, allowance should be made for
livestock, fuel wood or vegetable gardens within the layout of an irrigation
scheme. Alternatively, protection of vulnerable areas maybe necessary.

River morphology
The capacity and shape of a river results from its flow, the river bed and
bank material, and the sediment carried by the flow. A fast flowing river
has more energy and is able to carry higher sediment loads (both more
and larger particles) than a slow moving river. Hence, sediments settle out
in reservoirs and in deltas where the flow velocity decreases. A river is said
to be in regime when the amount of sediment carried by the flow is
constant so that the flow is not erosive nor is sediment being deposited.
The regime condition changes through the year with changing flows.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Reductions in low flows and flood flows may significantly alter the river
morphology, reducing the capacity to transport sediment and thereby
causing a build up of sediments in slower moving reaches and possibly a
shrinking of the main channel. Increasing flows will have the reverse
effect. Where the sediment balance changes over a short distance, perhaps
due to a reservoir or the flushing of a sediment control structure, major
changes to the local river morphology are likely to occur. The release of
clear water from reservoirs may result in scour and a general lowering of
the bed level immediately downstream of the dam, the reverse of the effect
that might be expected with a general reduction in flows.
Changes to the river morphology may effect downstream uses, in
particular navigation and abstraction for drinking, industry and irrigation.
The river ecology may also be adversely effected.

Channel structures
The susceptibility of channel structures to damage is strongly related to
changes in channel morphology and changes in sediment regime.
Increased suspended sediment will cause problems at intake structures in
the form of siltation as well as pump and filtration operation.Abstraction
structures may become clogged with sediment or left some distance from
the water. Degradation of the river bed is likely to threaten the structural
integrity of hydraulic structures (intakes, headworks, flood protection etc)
and bridges. The construction of new structures impacts on nearby
structures by changing local flow conditions.

Sedimentation
Irrigation schemes can fail if the sediment load of the water supply is
higher than the capacity of the irrigation canals to transport sediment.
Sediment excluders/extractors at the headworks can mitigate this effect to
some extent. Sedimentation from within the scheme itself can also be a
problem, for example, wind-blown soil filling canals. Canal desilting is an
extremely costly element of irrigation maintenance and design measures
should minimize sediment entry. Reservoir siltation shortens the active life
of the reservoir and must be given careful consideration at the design
stage. The increases in erosion due to the economic activity prompted by
the reservoir and its access roads needs to be taken into account.
Upstream erosion prevention, particularly within the project catchment is
an important consideration of an EIA. However, this may not be sufficient
to significantly reduce reservoir sedimentation, especially in view of the
time delay between soil conservation activities and a reduction in river
sediment loads.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Estuary erosion
Changes to the morphology of river estuaries can result from increased
erosion or sedimentation. Areas of mangrove may be threatened by
changes to the estuary morphology and special studies may be required to
determine any adverse impacts. Navigation and fishing may also be
adversely affected.

BIOLOGICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHANGE


This section focuses on the ecological changes brought about by the
project. The most obvious ones are a consequence of the change of land
use and water use in the project area but effects on the land around the
project and on aquatic ecosystems that share the catchment are likely.
Biological diversity, areas of special scientific interest, animal migration
and natural industry are important study areas. The overall habitat as well
as individual groups (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects etc) and
species need to be considered. Rare and endangered species are often
highly adapted to habitats with very narrow ranges of environmental
gradients. Such habitats may not be of obvious economic value to man, eg
arid areas, and therefore current knowledge of the biota may be poor and
a special study may be required. Local knowledge is particularly important
as the range of species may be very local. Thienemanns rules are useful in
thinking about the ecology of the effected areas:
The greater the diversity of conditions in a locality, the larger the
number of species in a biological community.
The more conditions in a locality deviate from the normal, and thus
from the optimum for most species, the smaller the number of species
and the greater the biomass of each.
The longer a locality has been in a stable condition, the richer its
biological community. (Petermann 1993).

Project lands
The nature of irrigation, ie providing water to water-short land, will
radically change both the agricultural and natural ecology in the project
area. The creation of compensation areas or habitat enhancement outside
the project area may be useful mitigation measures where the natural
habitat change is assessed as detrimental. In order to predict the likely
significant effects that irrigation projects have on human interests, low
intensity, pre-project use of the study area needs to be assessed, such as
seasonal grazing, recreation, hunting for wild meat or bee keeping and the
use of the vegetation for fuel, building, medicine etc.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Water bodies
The creation of reservoirs and channels provides the possibility
ofenhanced aquatic habitats. In particular, reservoirs and channels offer the
opportunity of pisciculture and aquaculture and favourable habitats for
water fowl, both permanent and migrating, but may also offer favourable
habitats for disease transmitting insects and snails (see the section Human
health). Bird sanctuaries and wildlife parks can be created around
reservoirs.
The consumption of water for irrigated agriculture and the reduced
quality of return flows is likely to adversely impact on downstream
ecosystems. Reduced flows, increased salt concentrations, lower oxygen
levels, higher water temperatures and increased pollution and silt loads all
tend to favour vigorous, tolerant species (aquatic weeds). The demands of
different ecotypes will change through the year both in quantity and quality.
The needs of fowl and fish are liable to be particularly sensitive during
breeding and migrating seasons: sport and commercial fish are often at risk.
See Table 9 for information on water quality for freshwater fish. This table is
for temperate zones and no international standards exist for tropical fish.
Local standards should be studied where available. Discharges from dams
can be controlled to meet ecological demands through the year and there
may be scope to modify construction methods to minimize disruptions to
the flow and to prevent very heavy sediment loads.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

FIGURE 8 - WETLAND VALUES

Source: (Dungan (IUCN), 1990)

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Surrounding area
It is important to consider the biological and ecological changes that
may result in areas surrounding irrigation and drainage work. Irrigation
may have a positive impact, for example by settling migrant slash and burn
farmers, or a negative impact, for example by raising the demand for fuel
wood due to increases in the local population.

Valleys and shores


Water bodies tend to support environmentally-rich corridors and large
human populations. Marked changes to the water environment, both in
quantity and quality, are liable to have major impacts, both positive and
negative eg by providing a food source for fish-eating mammals and birds
around a new reservoir or by reducing suitable nesting sites at a river-side
marsh. Downstream aquatic biota may be adversely affected by changes to
the hydrology or morphology of a river system.

Wetlands and plains


The United Nations convention on Wetlands of International
Importance defines wetlands as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water,
whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is
static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water
the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. Wetlands are
among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Estuaries and tidal
wetlands, in particular mangroves, are important nursery areas for many
species of offshore fish. Shallow waters are also, in general, rich fishing
grounds. Wetlands usually support a wide range of species and are
particularly important for water fowl and as staging areas for migrating
birds. The other three most valuable contributions of wetlands are: as a
buffer to reduce flood peaks; as a low-cost water purification system;and,
as protection from coastal erosion (World Bank, 1991). Figure 8
summarizes the value of wetlands.
Mangroves need both significant fresh water recharges and sediment rich
flows in order to thrive. A reduction in flow leads to an increase in the soil
salinity which favours more salt-tolerant species. Mangroves trap silt,
transported by flood flows, and obtain their inorganic nutrients from it. These
flushing flows also serve to keep the deltaic channels open. In the Lower
Indus, which now receives no fresh water for nine months of the year, the
mangroves have become stunted and reduced to one, salt-tolerant species.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Seasonally flooded plains and deltas offer specialized and important


habitats providing grazing for cattle and wildlife, and vital spawning
grounds for many fish species. Flood flows trigger migration and breeding
in a large number of species.
Irrigation can have a direct impact on wetlands by either changing the
hydrological con-ditions or by reducing water quality in downstream
areas. The often high environmental and economic value of wetlands
makes their study and preservation of key importance in an EIA.

Socio-economic impacts
The major purpose of irrigated agriculture is to increase agricultural
production and consequently improve the economic and social wellbeing of the area of the project. Although irrigation schemes usually
achieve this objective, they could often have been more successful in
developing countries if more attention had been paid to the social and
economic structure of the project area. An EIA should thus equally
concentrate on ways in which positive impacts can be enhanced as on
negative impacts mitigated.
Changing land-use patterns are a common cause of problems. Small
plots, communal land-use rights, and conflicting traditional and legal land
rights all create difficulties when land is converted to irrigated agriculture.
Land tenure/ownership patterns are almost certain to be disrupted by
major rehabilitation work as well as a new irrigation project. Access
improvements and changes to the infrastructure are likely to require some
field layout changes and a loss of some cultivated land. The losers will
need tailored compensation best designed with local participation. Similar
problems arise as a result of changes to rights to water.
User participation at the planning and design stages of both new
schemes and the rehabilitation of existing schemes, as well as the
provision of extension, marketing and credit services, can minimize
negative impacts and maximize positive ones. Consultations with and the
assistance of NGOs can be particularly helpful in minimizing adverse
socio-economic impacts.

Population change
Irrigation projects tend to encourage population densities to increase
either because they are part of a resettlement project or because the
increased prosperity of the area attracts incomers. Major changes should
be anticipated and provided for at the project planning stage through, for
example, sufficient infrastructure provision. Impacts resulting from changes

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

to the demographic/ethnic composition should also be considered.


Training is an important component if new skills are expected.

Income and amenity


The most common socio-economic problems reducing the income
generating capacity of irrigation schemes are:
the social organization of irrigation operation and maintenance
(O&M): who will carry out the work (both operation and
maintenance); when will irrigation take place (rotation schedules);
how will fair delivery be determined (communication and
measurement)? Poor O&M contributes significantly to long-term
salinity and water-logging problems and needs to be adequately
planned at the design stage.
reduced farming flexibility. Irrigation may only be viable with highvalue crops thus reducing activities such as grazing animals,
operating woodlots etc.
insufficient external supports such as markets, agro-chemical inputs,
extension and credit facilities
increased inequity in opportunity, often as a result of changing landuse or water use patterns. For example, owners benefit in a greater
proportion than tenants or those with communal rights to land.
changing labour patterns that make labour-intensive irrigation
unattractive.
Improved planning, with user involvement, has the potential to reduce
if not remove the above problems for both new and rehabilitation projects.
Extension services, with training and education, also offer much scope to
improve the income and amenity of irrigation schemes. Farmers often
choose low risk, low profit strategies rather than high risk, high profit ones.

HUMAN MIGRATION
Human migration (outside of the nomadic way of life) and displacement
are commensurate with a breakdown in community infrastructure which
results in a degree of social unrest and may contribute to malnutrition and
an increased incidence of disease. Large, new irrigation schemes attract
temporary populations both during construction and during peak periods
of agricultural labour demands and provision for their accommodation
needs to be anticipated. The problems of displacement during project
construction or rehabilitation can usually be solved by providing shortterm support.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Resettlement
Often the most significant social issue arising from irrigation
development is resettlement of people displaced by the flooding of land
and homes or the construction of canals or other works. This can be
particularly disruptive to communities and, in the past, insensitive project
development has caused unnecessary problems by a lack of consultation
at the planning stage and inadequate compensation of the affected
population. Technical ministries should seek expert assistance at an
earlystage. Community re-establishment often includes, for example, pilot
farms, extension services and credit schemes. For more detailed
information see Burbridge, 1988.

Womens role
Changing land patterns and work loads resulting from the introduction or
formalizing of irrigation are likely to affect men and women, ethnic groups
and social classes unequally. Groups that use common land to make their
living or fulfil their household duties, eg for charcoal making, hunting,
grazing, collecting fuel wood, growing vegetables etc, may be disadvantaged
if that same land is taken over for irrigated agriculture or for building
irrigation infrastructure. Historically, it has been men from the more settled
and powerful groups that have had greatest access to the benefits and
increased income from irrigated agriculture. Women, migrant groups and
poorer social classes have often lost access to resources and gained
increased work loads. Conversely, the increased income and improved
nutrition from irrigated agriculture benefit women and children in particular.
Inclusion of disadvantaged groups into the planning process maybe timeconsuming, but should be considered an important aspect of EIA.

Minority groups
Minority groups or tribal minorities can benefit from the increased
economic developmentof a new irrigation area. However, they are often
disadvantaged by irrigation development as they are excluded from the
scheme because of uncertain land rights and may be pastoralists rather
than farmers. An EIA should consider the impacts on minority groups and,
after consultation, appropriate rehabilitation or compensation measures
should be allowed for in the project design.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Sites of value
New irrigation schemes should avoid destroying or downgrading sites of
value whether that value be: aesthetic, historical, religious, mineral,
palaeotological or recreational. A change in water table, associated with
well-established schemes, can threaten buildings.

Regional effects
As with ecological impacts, the socio-economic impacts of irrigation
projects will be significant outside the project area. A new project will
both place demands on the region (marketing, migration, physical
infrastructure) and contribute to regional development. For irrigation
schemes to be economically viable, they need to complement other
activities in the region and the EIA should consider the effects of any other
development, such as agro-industries or new roads. Industrial and urban
development may adversely affect irrigation schemes by competing for
water and reducing the quality of water available. A regional planning
system is essential to minimize conflicts and co-ordinate development.

User involvement
Projects planned with the beneficiaries rather than for them have
proved more sustainable and no more costly. However, they do take longer
to plan and design because consultation is a lengthy process. Some
countries have public participation in the planning process enshrined in
law but many countries have a top down procedure only. Local
consultation of all interested (not just well-organized, vocal groups) will
improve the project and thus increase the potential for economic benefit
and sustained operation. The process may take a particularly long-time if
the mechanisms for consultation also have to be set up. Local NGOs can
be helpful to government agencies in this work and should be brought into
the planning process at an early stage in order to avoid later conflicts
building up.

Recreation
New and rehabilitation works offer the potential for improved
recreational facilities, particularly around reservoirs and the EIA should
highlight such potential for enhancement.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

ECOLOGICAL IMBALANCES
Without appropriate management measures, irrigated agriculture has
the potential to create serious ecological imbalances both at the project
site and in adjacent areas. Excessive clearance of natural vegetation cover
in the command area, for example, can affect the microclimate and
expose the soil to erosion, leading to a loss of top soil and nutrient
leaching. The removal of roots and vegetation disrupts the water cycle,
increasing the rate at which water enters rivers and streams, thereby
changing flow regimes and increasing siltation in the downstream zone.
This is often to the detriment of fisheries and aquaculture activities. The
destruction of natural habitats in this manner and the creation of
agricultural monocultures also impacts on the local flora and fauna
reducing biodiversity. The introduction of exotic species of plant or animal
may oust indigenous species or introduce disease agents which may affect
plants, animals and/or man. Fertilizers and pesticides are widely applied to
correct imbalances. These can percolate through the soil and/or be carried
away in the drainage water polluting both groundwater and surface waters
especially in the downstream zone. The nutrients in fertilizers may give rise
to eutrophication of surface water bodies and promote the growth of
aquatic weeds. Pesticide residues are hazardous to the health of both man
and animals.
The above examples serve to illustrate, together with the range of
biological and ecological changes described in the section Biological and
ecological change, the wide variety of potential impacts which may arise.
Many may be of relatively minor significance in their own right but they
often interact to produce a cumulative effect over a prolonged period of
time which can result in very significant long term changes to the local
ecology. This cumulative effect may impair the long-term viability of both
the project and economic activities in the surrounding area.
The following sections briefly describe three imbalances that are
common problems on irrigation schemes.

Pests and weeds


Irrigated agriculture often provides improved conditions for crop
diseases to develop, particularly fungal and bacterial foliage diseases.
Diseases and weeds can also spread quickly via the re-use of waste-water
and drainage water.
Any change to a more uniform environment on the project lands is
likely to favour vigorous species adapted to a wide variety of conditions.
Species, such as insects and rodents, are often regarded as pests. The
preferred habitats of natural predators, such as snakes, birds and spiders,

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

may be reduced by land use changes and by the increased use of


pesticides. Local or newly imported varieties of weeds may thrive in the
irrigated environment and reduce agricultural productivity.

Animal diseases
Animals are subject to a similar range ofwater related diseases as
humans. They may also act as reservoirs for human water-based infections
and infections with water-related insect vectors, see Figure 9. The
promotion of animal husbandry as a secondary, income generating activity
for farmers in newly irrigated areas should be carefully evaluated for its
possible environmental and health risks.

Aquatic weeds
The main problems of aquatic weeds are that they reduce the storage
and conveyance capacity of reservoirs, canals and drains and increase
water loss through evapotranspiration. Most irrigation schemes suffer
infestations of exotic species. They are difficult and expensive to control,
though the use of linings, shade and intermittent drying out can
compliment traditional techniques of mechanical removal, careful
herbicide application and the introduction of weed eating fish and insects.
The costs of removing weeds may be offset in some cases by using the
debris for compost, bio-gas and animal and fish food. Other problems of
aquatic weeds are that they can provide a favourable and protected habitat
for disease vectors such as snails and mosquitoes.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

FIGURE 9 - MAIN ANIMAL HOSTS OF VECTOR-BORNE DISEASES

Source: (Birley, 1989)

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

HUMAN HEALTH
This section concentrates on human health issues associated with
irrigation and drainage. It refers to items of the ICID checklist which cover
health and safety in their broadest sense, including for example human
settlements and shelter, and nutrition. Relevant characteristics of diseases,
whose transmission potential is a function of ecological parameters
affected by irrigation development, are summarized for non-expert
readership;health risks mentioned in connection with the environmental
and socioeconomic changes are discussed with possible preventive and
mitigating measures; and, opportunities to promote human health in an
integrated approach to irrigation development are presented. Health is a
complex subject and specialist expertise will be required when preparing
an EIA. Only brief introductory comments are made here and for further
information the reader is referred to the PEEM Guidelines listed in the
references. Human health considerations may warrant a separate Health
Impact Assessment and the Asian Development Bank have produced
guidelines for this (ADB, 1992).
Irrigated agriculture contributes substantially to conditions that favour
good health:food security, an improved infrastructure allowing better
access to and by health services and economic progress which permits
rural households a greater purchasing power for drugs and health services.
On the other hand there can be significant negative impacts and two
conditions need to be met to successfully deal with the potential negative
impacts on human health in the context of an EIA. Firstly, relevant
departments in the Ministry of Health and other appropriate health sector
institutions should be involved and consulted at the earliest stages of any
project. Options for institutional arrangements are described in PEEM
Guideline 1, (Tiffen, 1989). For the process of impact assessment reference
is made to PEEM Guideline 2 which distinguishes three categories of
parameters related to: community vulnerability; environmental
susceptibility; and the capacity of health services to deal with the forecast
situation, (Birley, 1989) . This methodology ensures a comprehensive
approach, including, but not restricted to, the health sector.
The traditional classification of water-related diseases by Bradley
(Feachem et al 1977) focuses on specific ecological and behavioural risk
factors and these characteristics are presented in Table 9. A broad
indication of the global distribution of vector-borne diseases is presented in
Table 10 and for more details reference is made to WHO (1989).

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Disease ecology
This section covers vector-borne diseases. Ecological and demographic
changes resulting from the introduction of irrigation may create new or
more favourable habitats for disease vectors. There are subtle differences in
the ecological requirements of a range of disease vectors and there are
intricate transmission patterns in different parts of the world. Local health
authorities will have this information at hand. An interdisciplinary dialogue
should guide planners in the incorporation of engineering and
environmental management measures in the design, construction and
rehabilitation of irrigation schemes. In general terms, two key determinants
can be influenced: vector density (which is, up to a saturation point,
linearly related to the transmission level) and vector longevity (the longer
the lifespan of an individual mosquito, the greater the chance it transmits a
disease to one or more humans).
The vector-transmitted diseases in question are listed below in order of
global importance. Any disease may have major importance locally.
Malaria

Global, but between 80-90% of cases in


Africa, between 100 and 200 million people
infected; between 1 and 2 million deaths a year.

Schistosomiasis
(bilharzia)

Global,but to the largest extent in Africa;


a debilitating disease; an estimated 200 million
people are infected.

Japanese encephalitis South,South-EastandEast Asia, closely linked to


(brain fever)
irrigated rice production;occurs in epidemic
outbreaks with high mortality rates among children.
Lymphatic filariasis
(elephantiasis)

Global,andmainlyurban,withtheexceptionof
Central Africa where it is linked to irrigation
and South/South-East Asia where it is linked to
weed-infested reservoirs and to latrines either
in the field or in nearby communities.

River blindness
(onchocerciasis)

West and Central Africa and foci in Central


America; the Onchocerciasis Control Programme
has eliminated the disease as a public health
problem in a large part of West Africa.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

TABLE 9 - Main infective diseases in relation to water (adpted from Feacham et al., 1977)
Category

Disease

Frequency

Severity

I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I, II
I, II
I, II
II
II
II
II
II
II
II
II
II
II
III a
III b
IV
IV
IV

Cholera
Typhoid
Leptospirosis
Tularaemia
Paratyphoid
Infective hepatitis
Some enteroviruses
Bacillary dysentery
Amoebic dysentery
Gastroenteritis
Skin sepsis and ulcers
Trachoma
Conjunctivitis
Scabies
Yaws
Leprosy
Tinea
Louse-borne fevers
Diarrhoeal diseases
Ascariasis
Schistosomiasis
Guinea worm
Gambian sleeping sickness
Onchocerciasis
Yellow fever

+
++
+
+
+
++
++
++
+
+++
+++
+++
++
++
+
++
+

+++
+++
++
++
++
+++
+
+++
++
+++
+
++
+
+
++
++
+
+++
+++
+
++
++
+++
++
+++

+++
+++
++
++
+
++
+

Chronicity

++
+
++
+
+
+
++

+
++
+
+
++

Category

Preventive strategy

Feacal-oral

Improve water quality.


Prevent casual use of uninproved sources.

II

Water-washed

Improve water quality. Improve hygiene.


Improve water accessibility.

III Water based


a. Penetrating
b. Ingested

Decrease water contact.


Control snails.
Improve water quality.

IV Water related insect vectors

Improve surface water management.


Destroy breending sites.
Decrease human-insect contacts.

Source: Birley, 1989

% suggested reduction
by water improvements
90
80
80
40?
40
10?
10?
50
50
50
50
60
70
80
70
50
50
40
50
40
60
100
80
20?
10?

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

TABLE 10 - A broad indication of the vector-borne diseases naturally transmitted


in each zoogeographical region
Mexico, Central and South America
Widespread dengue and yellow fever, some bancroftian filariasis, some onchocerciasis, widespread cutaneous and
restricted visceral leishmaniasis, widespread schistosomiasis (mansoni), widespread Chagas disease, widespread
malaria.
North Africa and Asia excluding India and SE Asia
Widespread dengue, guinea worm, some bancroftian filariasis, widespread cutaneous and restricted visceral
leishmaniasis, restricted schistosomiasis, malaria.
India, SE Asia, the Indonesian and Philippine archipelago and Indian Ocean
Widespread dengue, guinea worm, widespread bancroftian and brugian filariasis, some cutaneous and more visceral
leishmaniasis, restricted schistosomiasis (japonicum), widespread malaria, Japanese encephalitis.
New Guinea, Solomons, Vanuatu and other Islands of the Western Pacific
Restricted dengue, widespread bancroftian filariasis, restricted schistosomiasis (japonicum), widespread malaria.
Africa South of the Sahara, Madagascar and SW Arabia
Widespread dengue and yellow fever, bancroftian filariasis, loiasis, widespread onchocerciasis, restricted cutaneous
and visceral leishmaniasis, widespread schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness, widespread malaria, guinea worm.

Malaria: infective larvae of the Plasmodium parasite are injected into


the bloodstream when an infected anopheline mosquito takes a
bloodmeal. Only female mosquitoes take blood meals. Temperature,
humidity and availability of clear water bodies (standing or slow moving)
are key to mosquito bionomics. They determine the spatial (North and
South longitudes;altitude;desert areas) and temporal (seasonal) limits of the
disease. Not all anopheline mosquitoes transmit malaria, but as a general
rule irrigation development results in fauna simplification which favours
vector species. Details of the breeding requirements of local vector species
are needed before the effect of environmental change can be predicted
and specific design and operational interventions devised (WHO, 1982).
Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic trematode worms which in their
adult form live in the blood stream of human hosts and which, to complete
their lifecycle, need to pass a larval stage in certain species of aquatic or
amphibious snails. The ecological requirements of these so-called
intermediate host snails are a key determinant in the distribution of the
disease. Aquatic weeds provide an important substrate for the snails.
Unlike mosquitoes, snails do not actively carry the disease-causing
organism from one human to another;completion of the lifecycle depends
on hygiene (defecation/urinating) and water contact patterns. Human
behaviour is, therefore, the other key determining factor.
Japanese encephalitis: a limited number of culicine species transmit
Japanese encephalitis, the most important ones, Culex tritaeniorrhychus
and Culex gelidus, breed specifically in irrigated rice agro-ecosystems. Pigs
are the main amplifying host of the virus and migratory birds are suspected
to play a role in the distribution of the virus over large distances. The
mosquitoes prefer to take blood meals from animals (a characteristic called

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

zoophily) and disease outbreaks are usually triggered by climatic


conditions that favour rapid build-up of vector population densities to the
level where a critical threshold is passed and increased human blood
meals facilitate the infection to spill over into the human population.
Lymphatic filariasis is caused by one of two species of parasitic worms:
Wuchereria bancrofti, transmitted by either culicine or anopheline
mosquitoes and Brugia malayi, transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus
Mansonia. The association with the irrigated environment only exists
where anophelines are the vectors, i.e. in Central Africa and where
Mansonia mosquito larvae can develop attached to the roots of aquatic
weeds, in South and South East Asia.
Onchocerciasis: this infection with a filarial worm leads, in the long-term,
to blindness, and its vector, the Simulium blackfly, needs fast-flowing, highly
oxygenated water for its larval development. There is only one documented
case of an irrigation scheme in West Africa where a steep canal gradient
created a favourable condition for blackfly breeding. Spillways of dams are
well known to create this risk, but, on the other hand, impoundments will
eliminate any breeding in the inundated parts.

Specific risks and counter measures


This section looks at the human health risks as a discussion of the
environmental impacts. Details of interventions are contained in WHO
(1982) and also in Pike (1987). Environmental Action Plans and
Environmental Management Plans should give clear proposals for
interventions to reduce health risks.
Hydrology: a low-flow regime may lead to ponding in the riverbed
providing suitable breeding sites for malaria vectors, for instance
Anopheles culifacies in Sri Lanka. Where water availability permits,
periodic flushing has been successful in eliminating the risk. Periodic
flushing can also be effective in dislodging aquatic snails but this is only
useful if transmission sites are few in number and not more than a few
hundred metres from where the water is released. Where low flow leads to
salt intrusion in estuaries, anophelines breeding in brackish water may
flourish, such as Anopheles sundaicus (South-East Asia), Anopheles melas
(west coast of Africa) and Anopheles merus (east coast of Africa); or,
temporary sandbars may be formed, creating coastal lagoons, as happened
along the Pacific coast of Central America (Anopheles albimanus).
Hydraulic structures with standing water in them may become foci for
schistosomiasis transmission. Experience in Zimbabwe shows that their
re-design to make them self-draining can contribute significantly to
reducing this risk (Chimbale et al., 1993).

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Dams and impoundments can create a variety of health risks, in part


because of ecological change (mosquito and snail propagation along
shallow shorelines, associated with aquatic weeds, and blackfly breeding
on spillways), and in part because of demographic changes. Depending on
the ecological requirements of local vector species any of a range of
interventions may be successfully applied;periodic reservoir fluctuation,
steepening of the shorelines, controlling aquatic weeds, siting settlements
away from the reservoir and, for the blackfly problem, constructing dams
with two spillways that can be used alternately.
A rise in the water table resulting in waterlogging creates conditions in
which many mosquito vector species thrive. Proper drainage is the first
thing to attempt, but better water management is another possible solution.
Certain types of irrigation (surface, contour and furrow irrigation) carry
greater health risks than others (sprinkler, central pivot or drip irrigation). In
the case of surface irrigation, canal lining benefits environmental and
health concerns alike. Water availability allowing alternate wetting and
drying of paddy fields and synchronized cropping of rice may also be
effective against vector-borne diseases. A fall in the water table may, in
some parts of the world, favour Phlebotomine sandflies which live in semiarid conditions and transmit leishmaniasis, in its visceral form a fatal
illness. A fall in the water table may also force people to revert to polluted
or infective sources of drinking water and change water contact patterns,
to the detriment of their health.
Water quality: organic pollution of surface waters may create
favourable conditions for the breeding of culicine vectors of filariasis.
Pesticide residues, a long-term environmental and health risk, may also
lead to a rapid induction of resistance in disease vectors, thus rendering
future emergency applications of pesticides in the fight against disease
outbreaks less effective.
Groundwater may be polluted with pesticide residues and fertilizers. As
a consequence, high levels of nitrates may end up in drinking water which
may lead to severe illness or even death for some bottle-fed infants.
The eggs of intestinal helminths (roundworm, tapeworm - the latter
requiring passage through cattle or pigs) are the most persistent risks of
waste water for use in irrigation. They require quality control even where
treatment is sufficient to eliminate bacterial risks of pathogens.
Salinity effects: as for the fall in the water table, saline intrusion of
groundwater may force people to use unsafe drinking water and change
their water contact patterns. If such effects cannot be prevented or are
considered an acceptable trade-off, then proper water supplies should be
installed to counter the health risks involved.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Ecological imbalances: the emergence of new agricultural pests


following irrigation development will trigger pest control activities that can
range from simple applications of pesticides to complex integrated pest
management strategies. Such activities should be carefully assessed for
their human health risks:pesticide poisoning of farm workers (to be
countered by standard labelling, strict handling procedures and protective
clothing); and, effects on insect populations that may favour a rapid buildup of vector densities. Managers of Integrated Pest Management
programmes should attempt to include vectors in their monitoring activities
and liaise with health authorities on early warning mechanisms for disease
outbreaks.
Aquatic weeds provide a refuge or even an essential habitat element for
some vectors and their clearance is crucial in reducing health risks.
Animal husbandry may imply human health risks in two ways:firstly
domestic animals may act as reservoirs for human infections. The notorious
pig-virus-man combination in the irrigated rice ecosystems of South and
South East Asia, in connection with Japanese encephalitis has already been
referred to. In the Philippines, the water buffalo is a reservoir-host for the
japonicum form of schistosomiasis. Secondly, the presence of cattle may
tip the balance either in favour or against disease transmission by its mere
presence:with an expanded source of blood meals, vector densities may
rise, but where local vectors prefer animals to humans as a source of
blood, vectors may actually be diverted away from their human hosts.
Strategic siting of cattle between breeding places and human settlements
may enhance the latter phenomenon and is referred to as zooprophylaxis.

Health opportunities
Irrigation projects offer ample opportunities for health promotional
measures as an integral part of development. Up to a certain level their
cost may be absorbed in the overall budget, but for larger health
components additional loans or bilateral grants may have to be sought.
The provision of drinking water supply and sanitation is the single
largest health promotional component that should be pursued in any
irrigation project. As more water becomes available at the household level,
the incidence of water washed diseases (several skin and eye diseases) will
be reduced. Safe water supply, preferably in combination with adequate
sanitary facilities, will reduce the risk of water-borne diseases dramatically.
These include many gastro-intestinal infections which contribute
significantly to infant mortality, including cholera.
Guinea worm infection (dracunculiasis) has the special attention of the
international donor community in the 1990s. The parasitic worm can only

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

enter the human body in its larval form inside the water flea (cyclops).
Safe, clean drinking water (or at least filtered drinking water) is the key to
elimination of this disease.
Strengthening of national health services, in particular primary health
care capacity in the affected area, should ensure that the health risks
associated with the demographic change described in the section Socioeconomic impacts are dealt with effectively. Special attention is needed for
new migration patterns, for instance related to the cropping cycle, and
unplanned resettlement. The introduction of new infections or increased
incidence of existing ones due to non-immunity of incoming groups are
two likely scenarios.
As none of the health safeguards included in project design and
operation is likely to be 100% effective, and predictions have a level of
uncertainty, health services should prepare to cope with the new
conditions. The health sector should take responsibility for the monitoring
of the health status during project construction and early operation, and for
the adjustment of the health component in the Environmental Action Plan.

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Preparation of
Terms of Reference
The need for EIAs has become increasingly important and is now a
statutory requirement in many developing countries. Similarly, all major
donors require some form of environmental analysis for irrigation and
drainage projects. If an EIA is required, irrespective of the source of
funding, the promoting agency will be required to either prepare it
themselves or appoint others to do the study for them.
If the promoter intends to prepare the EIA study using its own staff,
reference should be made to the publications prepared by most donors
and UN agencies outlining their requirements and procedures. The World
Bank Operational Directive 4.01 (1991) is perhaps the most
comprehensive and well known manual and is a useful reference text. All
international organizations and bilateral agencies frequently update their
procedures and it is important to obtain the current version from the
organization. Many United Nations agencies publish guidelines on various
themes related to environmental assessment of irrigation and drainage
which could be of use to developing country staff if they are to carry out
an EIA and the most useful are listed in Chapter 6.
Usually government bodies do not employ sufficient staff to carry out
EIAs. It is more cost effective to ask specialist consultants (local or foreign),
universities or research institutions to carry out environmental assessments.
In this case terms of reference (TOR) will have to be prepared by the
project executing agency. As for any technical design or feasibility study,
the terms of reference for the study will determine its ultimate value. The
preparation of terms of reference can cause considerable difficulties for
non-experts and a brief guide to the major issues that must be addressed in
the TOR are given below.

DETERMINING STUDY REQUIREMENTS


There are no universal formats for terms of reference which will be
suitable for every study. However, there are general rules which should be
observed when preparing TOR for the EIA of irrigation and drainage
proposals. The study should ensure that the consultants focus on the major
issues and the most serious likely impacts. The opportunities for enhancing
any positive benefits from the project should also be highlighted.

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The study should identify the relevant natural resources, the eco-system
and the population likely to be affected. Direct and indirect impacts must
be identified and any particularly vulnerable groups or species highlighted.
In some instances views will be subjective and the consultants should give
an indication of the degree of risk or confidence and the assumptions on
which conclusions have been drawn. In most cases the output required
will be a report examining the existing environment, the impacts of the
proposed project on the environment and the affects of the environment
on the project, both positive and negative, the mitigating measures to be
taken and any actions needed. Interim reports, for example of baseline
studies, should be phased to be of maximum value to parallel technical
and economic studies.
The timing of the study is important. Scoping prior to a full EIA will
enable the major issues to be identified. The terms of reference for the full
EIA can then be better focused. The study should be carried out early
enough in the project cycle to enable recommendations to be incorporated
into the project design.
The requirements stated in the TOR will determine the length of time
needed for the study, the geographical boundary of the EIA, its cost and
the type of expertise required. Baseline data collection, if needed, can be
time consuming and will have a major impact on the cost and time
needed for the study. If considerable data exists, for example a good record
of water quality information and hydrological statistics, the EIA may be
possible without further primary data collection. If data are scarce, time
must be allowed for field measurement and analysis.
Prior to writing the TOR the following questions should be asked:
Is the study for an environmental scoping, a full EIA or other type of
study?Before preparing the TOR the purpose must be clear.
Is the study to be for a site specific project or a regional or sectoral
programme?The breadth of the study needs to be well defined.
Will the EIA team be required to collect baseline data or does this
already exist?The depth of the study and the type and quality of
information already available or needed must be known.
Who will use the final report?Different end users will often require
different information. Readers may not be technical experts and
careful thought should be given to the presentation of complex
information.
What output is required from the EIA study? Is an Environmental
Action Plan to be prepared?A draft contents page for the final report
as an annex to the TOR will give some guidance to the team carrying
out the study.

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Is the team responsible for all issues or are other organizations


(universities, government departments) responsible for some
environmental studies?The TOR should clearly delimit responsibilities
and give information on other work being done. If it is a requirement
that the team liaise or work with other organizations, including
NGOs, then this should be stated. Unabridged versions of the subcontracted studies should be made available to the appraising
authority for reference.
What type of experts are needed in the team and for how long?An
approximate estimate is needed to prepare a budget for the study and
to estimate the time period. However, the TOR should not be too rigid
on the number and type of expertise to be provided as there should
be some flexibility for the team to decide on the most appropriate
methodology and additional staffing.

CONTENTS OF THE TOR


The TOR should commence with a brief description of the programme
or project. This should include a plan of the area that will be affected
either indirectly or directly. Basic data should be given on existing and
proposed irrigation and drainage in the area and the catchment
characteristics. The institutions that are involved in the proposal should
also be given.
An overview of the local environment should follow the general
description. This will include socio-economic information, land use, land
tenure, water use in the area and any particular aspect of the flora and
fauna. If other studies have been completed a list of available reports
should be given.
A brief description should be given of the most important institutions,
including those responsible for the EIA, the project executing agency and
future managers. This should be presented in the form of an organogram.
A description of the work to be undertaken should give a general set of
requirements for determining the potential impacts of, and impacts on, the
proposed project. The TOR should require the consultants to cover the
following points:
whether a range of proposals should be considered and if so whether
they would be less environmentally damaging;
the main environmental effects of the proposed project, both in
the project area and in the surrounding area and the timescale of
the impacts;

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

the size and extent of the impacts based as much as possible on


quantitative data rather than qualitative assessment. In some cases it
may be necessary to highlight certain topics (such as waterlogging,
resettlement etc as discussed in Chapter 4) when a particular issue is
known to be of concern. In most cases, however, it may be preferable
not to mention any specific topic and make the consultant
responsible for a complete review of all topics;
those groups that will benefit and those disadvantaged by the project;
the impact on any rare species of plant or animal in the area;
the impact on human health;
the control and management aspects of the project to determine if they
will be effective;
the need for further baseline data collection or other specialist studies;
the present policy, institutional and legislative situation and future needs;
the mitigating measures needed and how they should be incorporated
into the project design;
the monitoring and evaluation activities that are required to ensure that
mitigating measures are implemented and future problems are avoided.
The TOR should give an indication of the team considered necessary for
the study. Depending on the scope of the study this may include one or
several of the following: an irrigation specialist, drainage specialist, rural
sociologist, terrestrial ecologist (of various specializations), aquatic
ecologist/fisheries expert, hydrologist, agronomist, soil chemist or physicist,
economist and epidemiologist. However, as mentioned earlier the team
should not be rigidly imposed on the consultant.
It is important to make provision for technology transfer. Apart from
enabling in-country expertise to be built up, this will promote more
involvement and understanding of the issues raised by the study. As most
EIA studies are of relatively short duration, this is probably best achieved
through the attachment of government staff to the consultants during the
study or an insistence on the use of local government personnel for some
of the tasks.
The expected date of commencement and time limit should be given.
An environmental screening can be done quickly as part of the general
project identification. In most cases scoping can be done in one to three
months using checklists or other techniques assuming adequate data is
readily available. Up to 12 months is needed for a full EIA for a medium
or large scale project although this could be longer if the project is
complex or considerable primary data have to be collected or field
measurement undertaken.

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The budget limit should be given in the TOR. The type of experts, and
whether foreign or local, and the duration of their inputs will usually be
the deciding cost factors although a large field survey or measurement
programme with laboratory analysis could significantly increase costs.
Any assistance to be provided by the Client should be clearly stated in
the TOR. Reporting requirements should be clearly stated. An annex giving
a draft table of contents for the final report (the Environmental Impact
Statement) is helpful as this will standardize presentation and ensure all
aspects are covered by the Consultants.

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References
RECOMMENDED TEXTS
Environmental Impact Assessment - Theory and Practice, edited by
Wathern (1988) and Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing
Countries, edited by Biswas and Qu Geping (1987) are two of the most
useful books on the general philosophy of EIA and are a good basis for
those wishing to gain a more in-depth understanding of EIA techniques.
The ICID Checklist to Identify Environmental Effects of Irrigation,
Drainage and Flood Control Projects (Mock and Bolton, 1993) is a
valuable aid to screening, scoping and defining data requirements.Indeed,
the layout in Chapter 4 generally follows that of the checklist which makes
it an ideal companion volume.
The FAO series of Irrigation and Drainage Papers, currently about 50 in
number, cover a wide range of topics pertinent to environmental aspects of
irrigation.The information is comprehensive and technical and many
volumes are available in several languages, most notably in English, French
and Spanish.
The German development agency, GTZ, have published Irrigation and
the Environment, by Petermann (1993).This is a comprehensive two
volume handbook, totalling about 500 pages, which gives very detailed
technical information.An information package is planned shortly following
the research by Petermann.This package is planned with a number of
standardized sheets that may prove useful in EIA work.
UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and ESCAP (Economic
and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) have produced several
useful volumes on EIA and water resources projects.The major donors such
as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and African Development
Bank have prepared their own guidelines on EIA although these tend to
relate mostly to internal procedures.They are important documents for
those seeking external financing.
The Environmental Assessment Sourcebook, World Bank Technical
Paper No. 140 (1991) covers environmental issues relating to development
in most sectors.It contains special sections on dams and reservoirs and on
irrigation and drainage.Apart from providing information on the Banks

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

policies and procedures it gives general information on potential


environmental impacts.Updates are issued from time to time.The
Sourcebook is particularly useful if financial support is required from the
World Bank.The World Bank Directive on Environmental Assessment (OD
4.01) describes the banks policy and procedures on EIA at regional,
sectoral and project levels, (1991).
PEEM, the joint WHO/FAO/UNEP/UNCHS Panel of Experts on
Environmental Management for Vector Control, published a technical
guidelines series in which the following volumes are already in English,
French and Spanish: Guidelines for the incorporation of health safeguards
into irrigation projects (Tiffen, 1989), Guidelines for forecasting vectorborne disease implications of water resources development (Birley, 1989)
and Guidelines for cost-effectiveness analysis of vector control (Phillips et
al., 1993).Under preparation are Guidelines for the promotion of
environmental management by agricultural extension workers and
Guidelines for monitoring health status during water resources
development.The PEEM Secretariat is located at WHO in Geneva.
A number of governments and international organizations have
developed guidelines or manuals on EIA.Some developing countries have
produced guidelines for the EIA of water resources development (see
references) which cover the irrigation sub-sector to some extent.Existing
guidelines are often oriented towards local requirements but offer
information which is of value to readers from all countries.A useful text of
value to most Asian countries is the Guidelines for Sustainable Water
Resources Development and Management by the Central Water
Commission, India (1992).

BIBLIOGRAPHY
ADB
Environment risk assessment: dealing with uncertainty in EIA.
Environment Paper No. 7. Asian Development Bank, Manila,
The Philippines.
1992. Guidelines for health impact assessment of development projects.
Environment Paper No. 11. Asian Development Bank, Manila,
The Philippines.
1992. Guidelines for the Health Impact Assessment of Development
Projects. Asian Development Bank, Manila, The Philippines.
1987. Environmental Guidelines for Selected Agricultural and Natural
Resources Development Projects. Asian Development Bank, Manila,
The Philippines.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

AfDB
1992. Environmental Assessment Guidelines.
African Development Bank, Abidjan, Cte dIvoire.
Ahmad, Y. and Sammy, G.
1988. Public Involvement: Guidelines to EIA in Developing Countries.
Hodder and Stoughton, London.
1985. Guidelines to Environmental Impact Assessment in Developing
Countries. Hodder and Stoughton, London.
Alhretire, D.
1982. EIA and agricultural development. A comparative law study.
Environment Paper No 2. FAO, Rome, Italy.
Ayers, R. S. and Westcot, D.W.
1985. Water quality for agriculture. Irrigation and Drainage Paper 29
(Revised). FAO, Rome, Italy.
Birley, M.H.
1989. Guidelines for forecasting the vector-borne disease implications
of water resource development. PEEM Guidelines Series 2. WHO,
Geneva, Switzerland.
Biswas, A.K. and Qu Geping
1987. EIA for Developing Countries. Tycooly Publishing, London.
Biswas, A.K. and Agarwala, S.B.C.
1992. Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries.
Butterworth-Heinemenn, Guildford, UK.
Blum, B.
1984. A Handbook on EIA for Public Decision Makers. UNEP, Paris,
France.
Burbridge, P.R.
1988. Environmental guidelines for resettlement projects in the humid
tropics. FAO Environmental Guidelines Paper 9. Rome, Italy.
Cernea, M. and Guggenheim, S. (eds.)
1993. Anthropological Approaches to Resettlement Policy,
Practice and Theory. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
Chambers, R.
1981. Rural Development - Putting the Last First.Longman, London, UK.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Chimbale et al.
1993. Schistosomiasis Control Measures for Small Irrigation Schemes in
Zimbabwe. HR Wallingford Report OD 128. Wallingford, UK.
Craine, L.E.
1971. Institutions for managing lakes and bays.
National Resources Journal II.
CWC
1992. Guidelines for Sustainable Water Resources Development and
Management. Central Water Commission, India.
Dugan, P.J.
1990. Wetland Conservation. A Review of Current Issues and Required
Action. IUCN. The World Conservation Union, Cambridge, UK.
DVWK
1993. Ecologically sound resources management in irrigation.
DVWK Bulletin 19. Verlag Paul Parey, Hamburg/Berlin, Germany.
EBRD
1992. Environmental Procedures. EBRD, London.
ERL
1990. Environmental Assessment Procedures in the UN System.
Environmental Resources Limited, London, UK.
ESCAP
1987. Environmental Management for Sustainable Socio-economic
Development. ESCAP, Geneva, Switzerland.
1985. EIA Guidelines for Planners and Decision Makers.ESCAP,
Geneva, Switzerland.
FAO
1992. Les primtres irrigus en droit compar afraicain (Madagascar,
Maroc, Niger, Sngel, Tunisie). FAO, Rome, Italy (French only).
Feachem, R., McGarry, M. and Mara, D.
1977. Water, Wastes and Health in Hot Climates.John Wiley, London.
Goodland, R. and Daly, H.
1992. Environmental Assessment and Sustainability in the World Bank.
World Bank, Washington D.C., USA.
Graham Smith, L.
1993. Impact Assessment and Sustainable Resource Management.
Longman Scientific and Technical, Harlow, UK.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Holling, C.A.
1978. Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management.
John Wiley, London.
Hunter, J.M., Ray, L., Chu, K.Y. and Adekoi-John, E.O.
1993. Parasitic Diseases in Water Resource Development The Need for Intersectoral Negotiation.WHO, Rome, Italy.
ICOLD.
1980. Dams and the environment. ICOLD Bulletin 35. Paris, France.
Mather, T.H. and That, T.T.
1984. Environmental management for vector control of rice fields.
Irrigation and Drainage Paper 41. FAO, Rome, Italy.
Mekouar, M.A.
1990. The Environmental Impact of Economic Incentives for Agricultural
Production: A Comparative Law Study.FAO, Rome, Italy.
Mock, J.F. and Bolton, P.
1993. The ICID Environmental Checklist to Identify Environmental
Effects of Irrigation, Drainage and Flood Control Projects.
HR Wallingford, Wallingford, UK.
Munasinghe, M.
1993. Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development.
World Bank, Washington D.C., USA.
OECD
1986. Environmental assessment and development assistance.
Environment Monographs No 4. OECD, Paris.
Pendse, Y.D., Roa, R.V. and Sharma, P.K.
1989. Environmental impact methodologies. Shortcomings and
appropriateness for water resources projects in developing
countries.Water Resources Development 5(4).
Pescod, M.B.
1992. Wastewater treatment and use in agriculture.
Irrigation and Drainage Paper 47. FAO, Rome, Italy.
Petermann, T.
1993. Irrigation and the Environment. GTZ, Eschborn, Germany.
Phillips, M., Mill, A. and Dye, C.
1993. Guidelines for cost effectiveness analysis of vector control.
PEEM Guidelines Series 3. WHO, Geneva.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Pike, E.G.
1987. Engineering Against Schistosomiasis/Bilharzia.
MacMillan, London.
Rhoades, J.D., Kandiah, A. and Mashali, A.M.
1992. The use of saline waters for crop production.
Irrigation and Drainage Paper 48. FAO, Rome, Italy.
Tiffen, M.
1989. Guidelines for the incorporation of health safeguards into
irrigation projects through intersectoral cooperation.
PEEM Guidelines Series 1. WHO, Geneva.
Todd, D.K.
1980.Groundwater Hydrology. John Wiley, London.
UN
1994. Trends in EIA of Energy Projects. UN, New York, USA.
UNECE
Application of EIA principles to policies, plans and programmes.
Environmental Series No 5. UNECE, New York.
Policies and systems of EIA. Environmental Series No 4.UNECE,
New York.
UNDP
1992. Handbook and Guidelines for Environmental Management and
Sustainable Development. UNDP, New York.
Wathern, P. (ed.)
1988. Environmental Impact Assessment: Theory and Practice.
Routledge, London.
WHO
1982. Manual on environmental management for mosquito control,
with special emphasis on malaria vectors. Pub. No. 66. WHO,
Geneva, Switzerland.
1989. Health guidelines for the use of wastewater in Agriculture and
Aquaculture.Report of a WHO Scientific Group.Technical Report Series
No 778. WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.
1993. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. Vol 1. Recommendations.
WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.
Winpenny, J.T.
1991. Values for the Environment.HMSO, London, UK.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

World Bank
1991. Environmental assessment source book. Vol 1, Policies,
procedures and cross-sectoral issues. Technical paper 139.
World Bank, Washington D.C., USA.
1991. Environmental assessment source book. Vol II. Sectoral
guidelines.Technical paper 140.World Bank, Washington D.C., USA.
1991. Operational Directive 4.01: Environmental Assessment.
World Bank, Washington D.C., USA
1993. World Development Report - Investing in Health. Oxford
University Press, Oxford, UK.
Worthington, E.B.
1977. Arid Lands Irrigation in Development Countries.
Environmental Problems and Effects. Pergamon Press, Oxford, UK.
Wramner, P.
1989. Procedures for EIA of FAOs field projects. FAO, Rome, Italy.

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ANNEX 1:
Glossary
GLOSSARY
Anopheline: A mosquito of the subfamily which includes the genus
Anopheles. May transmit malaria.
Arbovirus: Arthropod-borne virus.
Arthropod: Includes insects, ticks and mites.
Culicine: A mosquito of the subfamily which includes the genera
Mansonia, Hedes and Culex, and which may transmit a number of
diseases.
Cutaneous: Of the skin.
Ecology: The study of interrelationships of organisms to their
environment (or surroundings).Ecology considers individual organisms,
populations, and communities, as well as large units of landscape such as
forests, estuaries and river basins.For an EIA, the ecosystem can be
considered to be an appropriate unit of analysis concerned with a
community and its environment, both living and non-living (eg fish
community of a lake and lake pH).
Ecosystem: A community and its environment (living and nonliving
considered collectively) (may range in extent from very small to very
large units).
Environment: The total of all those physical, chemical, biological and
social economic factors that impinge on an individual, a community or a
population.
Environmental audit: An analysis of the technical, procedural and
decision making aspects of an EIA carried out sometime after a proposal
has been implemented.
Environmental impact: A change in effect on an environmental
resource or value resulting from human activities including project
development, often called an effect.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Environmental Assessment:


A formal process to predict the environmental consequences of human
development activities and to plan appropriate measures to eliminate or
reduce adverse effects and augment positive effects.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): A document or report which
contains the results of an EIA study.The EIA is also referred to in some
countries as Environmental Statement (ES).
Environmental management: Management and control of the
environment and natural resources systems in such a way so as to ensure
the sustainability of development efforts over a long-term basis.
Environmental monitoring: Observation of effects of development
projects on environmental resources and values.
Environmental planning: All planning activities with the objective of
preserving or enhancing environmental values or resources.
Eutrophication: The process of a water body becoming anaerobic, ie
without oxygen.
Externalities: Effects on a project, individual or institution resulting from
an action by a different project, individual or institution (eg market prices
or pollution).
Initial Environmental Examination (IEE): A preliminary attempt to
evaluate environmental impacts in order to determine whether a full-scale
environmental impact assessment is needed.Also called Initial
Environmental Investigation (IEI), partial EIA or Preliminary EIA.
Non-Governmental Organization: Private organizations that pursue
activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the
environment, or undertake community development, (World Bank
Operational Directive 10.70).
Parastatal: A government owned company.
Pathogen: An organism or substance which causes disease.
Reservoir host: An animal species which carries a pathogen without
detriment to itself and serves as a source of infection.
Residual environmental impact: Potential impact remaining after
mitigation measures have been adopted into a project.

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Scoping: An exercise involving the preliminary identification of the


environmental issues surrounding a project that requires an
assessment.Scoping should take place soon after the project has passed the
Initial Review.Scoping identifies the potential impacts which are to be
addressed in detail by the assessment.Scoping will usually initiate the
public consultation/public participation process.
Vector: An organism which carries or transmits a pathogen.
Visceral: Of the main organs of the body.

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

FAO Technical Papers


FAO IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE PAPERS
1
1 Rev. 1
2

3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20/1
20/2
21
22
23
24
25

Irrigation practice and water management, 1972 (Ar* E* F* S*)


Irrigation practice and water management, 1984 (E)
Irrigation canal lining, 1971
(New edition, 1977, available in E, F and S in the
FAO Land and Vater Development Series, No. 1)
Design criteria for basin irrigation systems, 1971 (E*)
\/illage irrigation programmes a new approach in water economy, 1971 (E* F*)
Automated irrigation, 1971 (E*)
Drainage of heavy soils, 1971 (E* F S*)
Salinity seminar, Baghdad, 1971 (E* F)
Water and the environment, 1971 (E* F* S*)
Drainage materials, 1972 (E* F* S*)
Integrated farm water management, 1971 (E* F* S*)
Planning methodology seminar, Bucharest, 1972 (E F*)
Farm water management seminar, Manila, 1972 (E*)
Water use seminar, Damascus, 1972 (E* F*)
Trickle irrigation, 1973 (E* F* S*)
Drainage machinery, 1973 (E* F*)
Drainage of salty soils, 1973 (C* E* F* S*)
Mans influence on the hydrological cycle, 1973 (E* F* S*)
Groundwater seminar, Granada, 1973 (E* F S*)
Mathematical models in hydrology, 1973 (E)
Water laws in Moslem countries - Vol. 1, 1973 (E* F*)
Water laws in Moslem countries - Vol. 2, 1978 (E F)
Groundwater models, 1973 (E)
Water for agriculture - index, 1973 (E/F/S*)
Simulation methods in water development, 1974 (E* F S*)
Crop water requirements, (rev.) 1977 (C* E F S)
Effective rainfall, 1974 (C* E* F* S*)

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

26/1
26/2
27
28
29
29 Rev. 1
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53

Small hydraulic structures - Vol. 1. 1975 (E F* S)


Small hydraulic structures - Vol. 2, 1975 (E F S)
Agro-meteorological field stations, 1976 (E F* S*)
Drainage testing, 1976 (E F S)
Water quality for agriculture, 1976 (E* F* S*)
Water quality for agriculture, 1985 (C** E F S*)
Self-help wells, 1977 (E*)
Groundwater pollution, 1979 (C* E* S)
Deterministic models in hydrology, 1979 (E*)
Yield response to water, 1979 (C* E F S)
Corrosion and encrustation in water wells, 1980 (E)
Mechanized sprinkler irrigation, 1982 (C E F S)
Localized irrigation, 1980 (Ar C E F S)
Arid zone hydrology, 1981 (C E)
Drainage design factors, 1980 (Ar C E F S)
Lysimeters, 1982 (C E F S)
Organization, operation and maintenance
of irrigation schemes, 1982 (C E F S*)
Environmental management for vector control
in rice fields, 1984 (E F S)
Consultation on irrigation in Africa, 1987 (E F)
Water lifting devices, 1986 (E F)
Design and optimization of irrigation distribution networks,
1988 (E* F**)
Guidelines for designing and evaluating surface irrigation systems,
1989 (E)
CROPWAT - a computer program for irrigation planning and
management, 1992 (E F S)
Wastewater treatment and use in agriculture, 1992 (E)
The use of saline waters for crop production, 1993 (E)
CLIMWAT for CROPWAT, 1993 (E)
Le pompage olien, 1994 (F)
Prospects for the drainage of clay soils, 1995 (E)
Reforming water resources policy, 1995 (E)
Environmental impact assessment of irrigation and
drainage projects, 1995 (E)

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Environmental Impact Assessment of Irrigation and Drainage Projects

Availability: June 1995


Ar - Arabic
C - Chinese
E - English
F - French
P - Portuguese
S - Spanish
Multil- Multilingual
*
Out of print
**
In preparation
The FAO Technical Papers are available through the authorized
FAO Sales Agents or directly from Distribution and Sales Section,
FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

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