The problem

Water scarcity is affecting most of the world’s population, and climate change, growing populations and changing demands will only amplify water issues. Therefore better water planning is crucial, but improving our planning requires understanding how much water have and how it will change in the future

How to measure and understand water resources? 

In order to make effective water planning and policy decisions, countries need to build a solid understanding of the current state water resources and how these will change in the future. Preliminary questions for water managers include:

  • How much water is in my basin?
  • How is the water being used?
  • How does this change under climate and development scenarios?

Tackling these questions is challenging for a number of reasons. Using data and models can assist build our understanding and inform robust discussion and planning decisions. However there is a high cost associated with collating data, integrating with models and data processing systems.

CSIRO identified a need for easy to use, rapid approaches for preliminary basin planning of water resources. These approach should then be followed by more rigorous modelling and assessment tools to lower the uncertainty of the assessment.

Basin Futures

Basin Futures is an entry level tool that assists in initial understanding of basin water resources. It does this by providing a low cost, web based tool with pre-integrated data and models. Basin Futures consists of three main parts.


A global, multi-scale, water-focused view of basins providing access to a range of data, including land use, water stress indicators, population, and others.

Basinpedia provide global exploration of basins


Web-based model and scenario development

A low barrier to entry interface provides easy setup of models and scenarios for exploring water resource scenarios.

Shows the web based editor

Web based editor


Visualisations and data download

Basin Futures provides rich reporting on the state of a basin’s water resources and changes under different scenarios. Results can be easily explored and downloaded.

An example from the Basin Futures reporting showing changes in river system flows between two development scenarios.


It should be noted this tool uses global data with models that make many simplifications. It should therefore be used with care and with consideration for the inherent uncertainties.

You can try out Basin Futures at, which is the initial release containing Basinpedia. Future releases will give access to the full modelling capabilities. Please send any feedback to