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Water Resources Management in Bhutan. G.Karma Chhopel. Introduction. Area 38,394 km 2 Population 634,982 (2005). Altitude range from 100m–above 7500m above msl. State of Environment. High-level political commitment 60% forest cover for all times Pristine Environment

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Area 38,394km2

Population 634,982 (2005)

  • Altitude range from 100m–above 7500m above msl
state of environment
State of Environment
  • High-level political commitment
  • 60% forest cover for all times
  • Pristine Environment
    • 72.5% forest cover
  • 9% biological corridor
  • ~50% protected area

Conservation jewel of the Eastern Himalayas

  • Flora and fauna
      • 7500 vascular plants (82 are endemic)
      • >300 medicinal plants,
      • 50 species rhododendron,
      • >40 species of orchids
      • 770 sps of Birds (14 IUCN)
      • 167 sps mammals (26 IUCN)

High bio-diversity concentration

biodiveristy invertebrates
Biodiveristy - invertebrates
  • Rich biodiversity
  • Historical reasons; N-Thailand, N-Myanmar, Yunan, Assam, etc.
  • Rhyacophila 34 sps, 32 in Nepal
  • Glossosomatidae 16 sps,

14 in Nepal

Epiophlebia laidlawi

Hydraena karmai

water resources
Water Resources
  • Bhutan is endowed with rich perennial water resources due to its head water source fed with permanent glaciers & associated glacier lakes, vast forest coverage & recurrence monsoon
  • Four major river basins are:
  • Amochhu, Wangchhu, Punatsangchhu & Manas
  • Major rivers flows North to South culminating into Indian plains
  • 3 transboundary rivers: Amochhu, Kurichhu & Gamri

Major River Systems





water resources1
Water Resources
  • Most promising hydropower potential sites are located deep steep river reach in narrow valleys (30,000 MW)
  • All most all the hydropower projects are run-of-the-schemes except few storage schemes in the foot hills
  • Natural rivers/streams water quality is reported as excellent conditions expect at localized urban areas
  • Deep groundwater is virtually unused in Bhutan; hydro-geological science is still at infancy
water resources in bhutan
Water Resources in Bhutan

98% urban and 88% rural population has access to safe drinking water

middle path national environment strategy
Middle Path: National Environment Strategy

3 avenues to sustainable development

  • Agriculture Intensification
  • Hydropower
  • Industrialization

All the above are major users of water

water act guiding elements
Water Act : Guiding Elements

7th Session of the Parliament, 31 May 2011

  • Ensure conservation & protection & sustainable management of Water Resources
  • Grant equity in water allocation and use
  • Respect traditional water rights if based on equity and social justice
  • Ensure licensing of water for commercial uses
  • Be supported by secondary legislations
  • Uphold international legal norms and conventions
water act 2011 7 th session of the parliament 31 may 2011
Water Act 20117th Session of the Parliament, 31 May 2011
  • Coordinate national IWRM
  • Conduct inventory on water resources
  • River Basin Management Plan (River basin committees and WUAs)
  • Set WQ standards
  • Set minimum environmental flow
challenges and consequences
Challenges and consequences
  • Unpredictable seasonality
  • Accelerated melting of glaciers
  • Extreme Climate: Higher incidence of flooding and dry spells
  • Reduction in over all river flows & water shortages
  • Drying of water sources & rivers
challenges and consequences1
Challenges and consequences
  • Increasing demand from increasing populations
  • Unsustainable development of hydropower
  • Extinction of plant and animal species
  • GLOF is another

serious threat

adaptation measures
Adaptation measures
  • Investing in alternative sources of energy (solar, wind, biogas)
  • Establish flood & weather forecasting and advance warning systems
  • Build check-dams & water reservoirs using natural contours of riverbeds
  • Promote rainwater harvesting & WSUD

Green Roof

adaptation measures contd
Adaptation measures (contd..)
  • Adopt drought resistant varieties of crops & livestock
  • Place more areas under parks and protected areas
  • Protect watersheds and wetlands
regional national initiatives
Regional & National initiatives
    • Bhutan Climate Summit for the Eastern Himalayas Southern watershed
  • Establish strong upstream-downstream economic linkages (cost-benefit sharing)
  • Establish an effective networking system for information, data and technology
    • Focal institutes for glaciology, hydrology, energy, food security etc.
    • Conduct inventory of water resources
regional national initiative
Regional & National initiative
  • Conservation of wetlands
  • Improvement of irrigation systems
  • Promoting rational use of irrigation water
  • Control the spread of impervious ground cover that impedes the recharging of ground water resources
international support
International support
  • Funds and technology for mitigation and adaptation measures
  • Funds to develop sectoral rules and regulations
  • Technology/ knowledge transfer from institutions such as MRC
  • Support research & monitoring programmes
  • Events in HKH have global consequences (social, economy, ecology)
  • Strong evidence of climate change
  • Need to act now rather

than later

  • Investing for the world