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Better tools for irrigation water allocation and distributions in Pakistan

Posted by: Clare Brandon

December 11, 2017

The Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS) of Pakistan is the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world. Developing tools that take into account seasonal flow forecasting, allocation and distribution of water within this system is a key water resource planning and operational requirement in Pakistan.

Indus River System Daily Irrigation Allocation Model Workshop
Participants at the Indus River System Daily Irrigation Allocation Model workshop at the Indus River Authority head office

Based on the recommendations of the 2012 Pakistan Water Sector Taskforce Report, CSIRO in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and provincial irrigation departments of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh, has developed a daily Indus River System Model (IRSM) using the eWater Source modelling framework – Australia’s national hydrological modelling platform. This model simulates flow of water in the main river and its distribution into canal networks as per Pakistan’s 1991 Interprovincial Water Apportionment Accord.

In October 2017, the CSIRO river modelling team visited Pakistan to conduct model testing with Pakistani partners at Indus River System Authority Head Office, Islamabad. This testing compared the results of the Indus River System Model with existing seasonal planning and allocations using historical records. Model results for the period 2002 to 2012 show that simulated seasonal inflow forecasts match with historic forecasts resulting in provincial allocations that are also in agreement with historic water deliveries.

Pakistan government agencies now have increased confidence in the model’s ability and have requested intensive testing and reporting over time to be used in parallel with their existing seasonal planning methods. The project is continuing with work on model refinement, increased model skill in predictions and capacity development.