Activities of the USGS International Water Resources Branch
Water projects of international interest.
During the first phase of the multi-disciplinary study the USGS Water Resources Assessment Team made strides to equip and train a core group of Afghan engineers and technicians. Activities included compiling existing hydrologic and geologic maps and data and developing ground water monitoring plans for water level and water quality, and surface water monitoring focusing on the Kabul and Helmand Basins. The initial approach consisted of water level and water-quality monitoring, monitoring of rivers and reservoirs, assisting in the installation of a meteorological gaging network, assessing water-resources availability, assessing water management practices, developing a national water resources database, and helping in the initiation of a water quality laboratory at the Afghan Geological Survey in collaboration with Afghan colleagues. The USGS efforts also emphasized on-hands capacity building of colleagues at the Afghan Geological Survey. Some training, equipment, and supplies were provided, institutions were strengthened to the extent possible within the timeframe of the project, development of a water-quality laboratory led by an NGO was overseen, and a national water-resources database was initiated. These efforts still need work to provide a better understanding of the availability of water resources, to improve floods and droughts assessments and water resources management, and to expand this evaluation to additional hydrologic basins. Several USGS publications have been completed. Training colleagues of the Hydrogeology Group at the Afghan Geological Survey as well as colleagues from other Ministries is proposed to continue and additional capacity building for the Ministry of Water and Energy and Agriculture also is proposed. Finally, a national water resources database will be completed for use by several Afghan Ministries.
Cape Verde is a volcanic island archipelago located about 750 km off the west coast of Africa (fig. 1). Its 500,000 inhabitants live on nine small and arid islands, resulting in a very high population density and the need to import the majority of its food. The objective of USGS assistance was to evaluate groundwater availability and quality in watersheds on three islands (Fogo, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau). This work was conducted in cooperation with the Instituto Nacional de Gestão dos Recursos Hídricos (INGRH) and funded by the Millennium Challenge Account for their evaluation of additional water development to increase agricultural productivity.This study provided training/equipment (pressure transducers, field laptops, water-level tapes, field parameter sondes) to the Cape Verdeans, collected hydrogeological data (environmental tracers for groundwater dating, hydraulic properties, meteorological data, groundwater budget components, water levels), and used numerical modeling of flow/heat transport to develop a conceptual understanding of groundwater movement and groundwater resources within these aquifer systems. Dating showed some areas having relatively young (decades or less) groundwater with a relatively high risk of contamination from agricultural and septic wastes. Water quality sampling indicated the potential for salt-water intrusion, particularly along the coastal areas. The numerical modeling of one basin on the Island of Fogo constrained recharge rates (7 to 25% of precipitation), confirmed that a large amount of fresh groundwater was being “lost” as submarine outflow, and indicated that the water table beneath the volcanic slope and central caldera was likely too deep for economically viable development. This information is being used by both the local water managers and the INGRH for future planning of sustainable groundwater development. More information and links to publications can be found at: http://ut.water.usgs.gov/projects/capeverde/
Critical to the success of a national ground-water assessment program for Ethiopia are the use of standardized field forms and a national ground-water database for storing, processing, and analyzing ground-water data. To meet these needs, in 2000, the USGS joined its Ethiopian counterparts to develop the Ethiopian National Groundwater Database (ENGDA) and standardized forms. This database is now being implemented by the Ethiopian Government. Additional capacity building is being provided. Continued assistance was provided by IAEA in 2008.
USGS scientists have a long history of defining, implementing and installing and monitoring early warning systems (EWS) in communities of all scales, both domestically and internationally. The USGS implemented a network of 58 hydrologic monitoring systems with real-time warning capability in four Central American countries following the 1998 Hurricane Mitch disaster. In Haiti, United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientists have provided technical assistance as requested by the UNDP to help mitigate flood hazards in and around the town of Fond Verrettes, Haiti. USGS recommendations included physical and practical guidance focused on risk reduction as well as aspects of rehabilitation and reconstruction. USGS researchers/scientists assisted UNDP and Haitian counterparts in the design and installation of a EWS that consists of 3 rain gages equipped with satellite telemetry and a communications system for Fond Verrettes.
Horn of Africa
USGS is redesigning the Ethiopian National Groundwater Database and constructing a generic template of a Water Supply Database to store water well construction details and other information to be used by the Host Nation Government in the Horn of Africa. USGS also is providing data for development of the Combined Joint Task Force--Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Water Resources Database for Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. The water resource database will store geologic maps, hydrogeologic maps, topographic maps, satellite images, vegetation maps, weather maps, documents, and other relevant hydrogeological data in a format that can be easily retrieved by users. The data will be delivered periodically via the interlibrary loan process that will allow NFESC to select the most appropriate maps and materials to be incorporated and used into the database.
The USGS is an active partner in the Climate Forecasting Systems (CFS) component of the Disaster Management Support Project, which is a collaborative effort of the Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The purpose of the project, established in 2005, is to reduce vulnerability of the Indian population to hydro-meteorological events resulting from floods, cyclones, extreme temperatures, and derivative occurrences such as forest fires and landslides. As a sub-project of the CFS, the Central Water Commission (CWC) of India, the India Meteorological Department, the USGS, and the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, are implementing a pilot flood forecasting and flood inundation modeling project for the Mahanadi River Basin, where devastating floods occur almost annually. The objectives of the project are to develop a pilot decision support system for flood forecasting in Mahanadi River Basin to improve flood forecasts throughout the basin, to predict areas to be inundated during floods, to assist in the mitigation of flood damages, and to develop forecasting and warning technology that can be transferred to other river basins in India. The USGS also is working with the CWC to implement a pilot flash-flood warning system for the upper Sutlej River basin in northern India. Large floods on the Sutlej have occurred in the past and have been attributed to the breaching of artificial lakes in the upper reaches of the basin in Tibet. In addition to causing loss of life and property damage, these floods have severely impacted the operations at the Nathpa Jakhri hydroelectric project, which supplies a large portion of power to northern India, including New Delhi.
USGS partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Jordan Ministry of Water and Irrigation to assess trends in groundwater levels and groundwater salinity in Jordan’s aquifers. Aquifer saturated thickness, a relative measure of the amount of groundwater in storage, was forecast for 2030 by using linear extrapolation of the groundwater level trend in 2010. USGS forecasts that 30 to 40 percent of groundwater storage will be depleted by 2030, if current trends continue (2013 Report). This information contributes to the scientific basis for management of groundwater resources as the government of Jordan seeks sustainable water-supply solutions. USGS has been cooperating with USAID and other agencies on water science projects in Jordan since 1993.
Goode, D.J., Senior, L.A., Subah, A., and Jaber, A., 2013, Groundwater-level trends and forecasts, and salinity trends, in the Azraq, Dead Sea, Hammad, Jordan Side Valleys, Yarmouk, and Zarqa Groundwater Basins, Jordan: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report, 80 p. Accessed May 29, 2013 at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1061/.
International Hydrologic Program (IHP) 1980s to present
Verne Schneider, Secretary, US National Committee to UNESCO’s International Hydrologic Program (Matt Larsen is the Chair); re-creation of USNC; aiding/reviewing the creation of a US led UNESCO-IHP Category II Center; leading a session at 2007 AGU meeting.
Since 2004 the U.S. Geological Survey has collaborated with the U.S. Department of State's Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) and the Italian Ministry of Environment and Territory (IMET) in support of the Iraq Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) and their goal of renovating the Iraq National Hydrologic Monitoring Network. An extensive network previously operated by the MoWR had fallen into disrepair after 30 years of neglect, wars, and embargoes. In 2005 and 2006 personnel from USGS Water Science Centers and the Army Corps of Engineers traveled to northern Iraq to establish automated streamgaging stations on the Tigris and Dokan Rivers and to provide training for MoWR engineers on modern streamgaging techniques. In 2007 additional training for MoWR personnel was conducted in Italy that focused on the establishment of a satellite ground station needed for real-time data acquisition. In the fall of 2007 20 engineers and scientists from the MoWR traveled to the USGS Idaho Water Science Center in Boise for 9 weeks of intensive training on a variety of topics related to the establishment and maintenance of a modern hydrologic monitoring network. The USGS continues its involvement with the MoWR by providing technical assistance and training in support of the establishment of 105 new streamgages, 25 water-quality monitoring stations, and 10 snow monitoring stations. The objective of this work is to enable the Iraqis to better manage their valuable water resources which in turn will result in an improved quality of life. A hydrologic assessment project also is being implemented.
In 2007 MCC conducted the Due Diligence on the Mongolia Compact proposal that would provide approximately US $200 million in grant funding to support economic growth and poverty reduction throughout the country. Mongolia’s MCC proposal is made up of four projects: A Railway Project with the objective of creating new jobs in export, rail & related industries & increase the profitability of the national railway & exporting companies; An Education Project with the objective of increasing beneficiary wages through greater productivity; A Health Project with the objective of increasing the productive years of the labor workforce & decrease total health expenditures; A Property Rights Project with the objective of increasing the wealth of poor Mongolians by capitalizing their land assets through the upgrade of the currently dysfunctional property registry system.
The work of the USGS efforts focused on the Peri-Urban Land Management Activity of the Property Rights Project as described in the Mongolia Compact proposal. The USGS provided assistance to MCC to aid in ensuring the sustainable use of available water resources associated with the land/property rights project, notably regarding the proposed wells that are being considered under this project. Specifically, the USGS/DOI role is to provide MCC with technical advice on the potential environmental risks of the proposed investment. Additional follow-up work has been proposed by the USGS.
Since 2007 USGS has provided assistance to MCC during the Implementation Planning for the Mozambique Compact proposal, focusing on issues related to ground- and surface-water resources. The Government of Mozambique's Compact proposal for approximately $650 million over five years seeks to increase the productive capacity and improve the investment climate in the four northern provinces of Mozambique—Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and Zambézia, the poorest regions of the country. The proposal focuses on water and sanitation and private sector development. Specific projects include: water and sanitation, roads, improved land administration, a private credit bureau, agribusiness development, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and cross-cutting policy reforms and capacity building initiatives. The Water and Sanitation Project of the Mozambique Compact proposal includes the following activities: Urban Water Supply: rehabilitation and expansion of potable water supply systems in three capital cities, seven municipalities, and sixteen towns and villages. Sustainable utilization of surface-water and ground-water resources will also be explored; Rural Water Points: construction/drilling of up to 500 water holes and/or boreholes in Cabo Delgado Province and 1,000 in the Province of Nampula; Nacala Dam: rehabilitation of the 21-meter high Nacala Dam and augmentation of its reservoir. Environmental and surface water flow studies will be carried to inform design and scope of project; Sanitation Services: rehabilitation and expansion of sanitation services in three capital cities and five other municipalities located in Cabo Delagado, Nampula and Zambézia.
USGS is focusing on the Urban Water Supply, Rural Water Points, and Nacala Dam Activities of the Water and Sanitation Project in the Mozambique Compact proposal. The USGS serves as a scientific advisor to MCC during Due Diligence and Implementation Planning for the Mozambique Compact. In this role, USGS is involved in the review, validation, and/or verification of scientific/technical documents and data related to surface- and ground-water resources as developed by the Government of Mozambique and/or MCC and their respective consultants/contractors. In addition, USGS may be asked to provide or develop GIS/Remote Sensing data sets and or maps for use in planning and executing Compact activities. The project will be continued for the next 5 to 6 years.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Pakistan Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and other Pakistani organizations involved in water resources assessment and management are engaged in science and technology exchange since 2004. Specifically, the U.S. Geological Survey has provided scientific and technical assistance to allow for strengthening of the capabilities of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) with emphasis on the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources. The focus of the science and technology exchange has been on water resources assessments, creation of national, regional, and local water-quality laboratories, application of geographic information systems, organic analytical methods for pesticide analyses, creation of an integrated Pakistan water resources data warehouse, and creation of a Center of Excellence in Microbiology.
The goal of the creation of a water resources data warehouse is to encourage science based decision making in integrated water resources management in Pakistan. The goal of the microbiology project is to build capacity in Pakistan to assess the presence of human pathogens in surface and groundwater resources, to identify surface water and groundwater supplies vulnerable to microbial contamination, and to ultimately improve access to safe drinking water in Pakistan. The longer term goals are to create a Center of Excellence in Microbiology in Pakistan and to develop, plan, and execute a national assessment of selected microbial indicators with focus on priority areas.
Water supply is lacking in most of the Horn of Africa. This water exploration project in the Darfur region conducted in 2006 and 2007 used innovative radar technology combined with other optical remote sensing technique and additional ancillary data to improve the potential for finding water supply in this drought and famine stricken area. The overall objective of this program was to improve support to decision-making for humanitarian assistance programs at USAID’s Office of Food for Peace, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, local governments, and national and international NGOs. The specific objective was to identify the local water supply potential using space-born radar technologies combined with geology, geomorphologic features and climatic data in Central Darfur which is comprised of 135,000 km² and currently hosts 2.5 million IDPs. The project revealed vast stretches of land in central Darfur with sufficient water reserves to sustain about 33 million people assuming a daily consumption of 15 litres per person. These aquifers consisting of unconsolidated sediments are thought to contain young water and therefore are considered a renewable water supply. The depths to water range from near the subsurface to 50 meters below the surface and therefore are easily accessible.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Since 1988 the USGS has been partnering with the National Drilling Company (NDC) of the Abu Dhabi Emirate to collect information on the ground-water resources of the Emirate, to conduct research on the hydrology of the arid environment, to provide training in water-resources investigations, and to document the results of the cooperative work in scientific publications. Special projects included tree ring work, perchlorate, land-use change and microgravity.
USGS Study Tour
In April 2007, the USGS held a study tour “Good Practices in Ground Water Resources Assessment, Management, and Public Participation” funded and co-organized by IAEA and GEF IW Learn. The overall objective was to build capacities for transboundary aquifer management by learning about best practices and exchanging experiences and thereby setting the foundation for a network for future interaction and mutual benefit. The specific objectives were to: Provide overview of technical aspects of water resources in support of management decisions--tools, technology, monitoring networks, characterization, geo-databases, GIS) and aquifer development (recharge, permits, uses); Provide overview of managerial aspects of (ground)water in order to ensure a sustainable water supply through discussion about several aquifers in differing climatic and hydrogeological settings--groundwater management models across governing boundaries, water management indicators, institutional arrangements, legal framework, permits, water uses and tradeoffs, policy directions; Provide an overview of public participation options-- advocacy and citizenship building strategies, user groups and stakeholder participation in water management and aquifer development.
Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change (GRAPHIC)
UNESCO-IHP initiated the project Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change (GRAPHIC). GRAPHIC addresses the role of ground water as a critical global resource and the paucity of research to understand how ground water may be affected by climate change and linked human activities. GRAPHIC promotes and advances sustainable groundwater management in the face of climate change and linked human stressors. GRAPHIC provides a platform for exchange of information through case studies, thematic working groups, scientific research, and communication. GRAPHIC serves the global community through providing scientifically-based and policy-relevant recommendations. GRAPHIC uses regional and global networks to increase understanding of the climate/groundwater connection and improve the capacity to manage groundwater resources. GRAPHIC intends to increase the visibility of groundwater’s importance in the climate change arena.
The USGS actively participates in GRAPHIC “expert committee” meetings. At these meetings, experts develop direction for the program, articulate conceptual assessment strategies, share technology, and develop timelines. USGS is involved because of its expertise in groundwater assessment, ongoing research on the impacts of climate change, and a leadership role in assessing the internationally recognized High Plains Aquifer which is arguably one of the most productive and heavily studied aquifer systems in the world.
Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management (ISARM) Program
The worldwide ISARM (Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management) Initiative is an UNESCO and IAH led multi-agency effort aimed at improving the understanding of scientific, socio-economic, legal, institutional and environmental issues related to the management of transboundary aquifers. The issue of shared international waters is as old as the national borders that make those waters international. During the last century, a significant progress has been made in regulation of joint management of surface watercourses; many international river-, lake- or basin commissions have been set up and the legal treaties signed. Although some of these activities address "a groundwater component" as well, major comparable efforts related to the invisible groundwater have started just a several years ago with the ISARM Programme.
Since its start in 2002, ISARM has launched a number of global and regional initiatives. These are designed to delineate and analyze transboundary aquifer systems and to encourage riparian states to work cooperatively toward mutually beneficial and sustainable aquifer development. The USGS participates in the Americas Initiative and has contributed information about shared aquifers to the program as well as participated in regional meetings. USGS contributions have been published by UNESCO in regional reports.