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River Basin and Watershed Management
River Basin and Watershed Management

As populations expand, water resources are often stretched to accommodate irrigation, drinking water, navigation, industry and habitat preservation. Consequently, the careful stewardship of our rivers and streams is essential. Currently, the Berger Group is working with ARD, Inc. to support USAID's worldwide water and coastal management programs. As part of this five-year contract, Berger is assisting in managing watersheds and river basins, optimizing water supplies and ensuring equitable distribution of water. To protect fragile watershed areas, Berger specialists are working with nations to implement comprehensive watershed management programs and increase community support for habitat protection. The Team is also striving to reduce dependence on depletable marine resources and promote controlled development and environmentally-sensitive industries. In addition to undertaking watershed management programs, Berger specialists are coordinating with national and local authorities, water users councils and other stakeholders to establish improved nationwide water policies and comprehensive regulations to support the long-term stability of the world's watersheds.

Channeling the Indus River

indus_river.jpgPakistan's Indus Valley has been home to flourishing trade and cultural activities for over 2,000 years. Since its founding, inhabitants have relied on the Indus River for irrigation, drinking and sanitation. To reduce conflicts over water use and develop an appropriate river basin management strategy, the World Bank funded a National Drainage Program. This comprehensive program includes three principal components-a pre-feasibility study for the national surface drainage system, a detailed evaluation of the Balochistan effluent disposal system and the creation of a flood protection and drainage plan for the Peshawar Basin. Under this initiative, Pakistan's Ministry of Water and Power selected the Berger Group and Indus Associated Consultants to evaluate existing riverbasin management measures and improve water management throughout the Indus Basin.

In the first phase of the program, Berger engineers evaluated the feasibility of creating a single, interconnected system of outfall drains covering the Indus Basin. Berger specialists studied existing and planned drainage systems, identified the present outfall points, the volume of discharge, the length of the drains and the area of discharge to create detailed maps of the basin. The Team also studied the topography and hydrology of the area and found that additional pumping stations were not necessary as gravity would provide adequate drainage. Based on this information, Berger prepared a technical report demonstrating the effectiveness of a proposed national surface drainage system and assessed the environmental impacts of the system.

Under the second component of the program, the Team evaluated the environmental effects of discharge from the Balochistan effluent disposal system, updated water quality data and examined the present methods for separating low salinity runoff water from rain storms and high-salinity base flows. The Team then identified alternatives to improve the effluent disposal system and prepared designs, socio-economic assessments and cost-estimates for an improved disposal system.

The third element of this ambitious program involved the development of a comprehensive river basin management plan for the Peshawar Valley. The Peshawar Valley, located on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has a long history as a trading center. Currently, the river basin is in need of an integrated approach to drainage and river basin management which will accommodate the region's varying water needs. The Team evaluated the area's existing drainage systems and identified several alternatives. Team members assessed the economic and environmental impacts of each plan, along with resettlement needs before selecting a recommended master plan. The development of a comprehensive water use plan for the Indus River will allow government officials and other stakeholders to formulate policies which will equitably distribute water for irrigation, drinking and effluent disposal while preserving the fragile balance of water rights along this vital waterway.

The Blue Danube

Since Roman times, the 2,783-kilometer Danube River has served as a critical commercial artery. The 70-kilometer Sulina Channel forms one of three Romanian branches of the Danube which enters the Black Sea. The channel opened in 1857 to allow sea-going ships to access Romania's inland ports, and today, it is an important international waterway.

To manage water levels and regulate navigation along the lower Danube and the Sulina Channel, the Romanian government established the Administratia Fluviala a Dunarii de Jos (AFDJ) in 1973. This agency conducts hydrographical measurements, facilitates navigation and supervises icebreaking and dredging operations. To improve navigation and river basin management along the Sulina Channel, the European Investment Bank and the AFDJ selected the Berger Group as program manager for a †76 million project to upgrade the channel. River basin management requires precise control over water levels within the basin and Berger engineers are assisting AFDJ officials to conduct regular topographic and hydrographic surveys and upgrade the agency's equipment to ensure accurate measurement. The development of a continuous survey program will increase AFDJ's understanding of the ever-changing riverbed morphology and allow officials to identify navigable channel limits and optimize dredging activities. Proper control of the river basin will also reduce the risks of flood in communities along the Sulina Channel.

Berger engineers conducted extensive water level and quality tests and updated existing surveys, water data and feasibility studies. Berger engineers then prepared tender documents and assisted the AFDJ in the bid evaluation, selection of contractors and supervision of channel improvements.

In 1991, the 4,497 gt cargo ship Rostok sank at mile 31 of the channel, effectively blocking navigation. Despite attempts to remove the wreckage, much of the ship remained, limiting navigation to a dredged temporary bypass. The Berger Group carefully mapped the site, developed plans and supervised the removal of the wreck and debris while minimizing shipping delays on this busy river.

Each year, much of the rich soil along the banks of the Danube is lost as a result of inadequate erosion control. The sediment is then washed downstream, impeding navigation. Berger engineers are currently reducing erosion and unwanted sedimentation by implementing extensive bank protections and channel regulation projects.

The upgrade of the Sulina Channel will raise navigation along the Danube River to current European Union standards by providing ships with advanced navigation aids, up-to-date information on the depth and currents and a waterway free of obstructions. The program will also increase trade opportunities along the waterway by allowing more ships to access Romania's ports while protecting the delicate Danube Delta, a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve.

Regulating Water Flow on the Milk River

canada2.jpgThe Milk River is the smallest of Alberta's major river basins. Its headwaters and that of its principal tributary, the North Milk River, originate in Montana and flow through southern Alberta before returning into Montana where they join the Missouri and Mississippi River systems. Within this arid region of Alberta, the Milk River and its tributaries are the principal source of water for the domestic, municipal, agricultural and industrial needs of local residents.

Due to the international status of the basin and the region's dry climate, the apportionment of the water between Canada and the United States is important to both countries and has been regulated by several international treaties. Since the signing of these accords, the United States has constructed a number of dams on the downstream portion of the river, but Canada, to date, has not developed any major water storage facilities in the basin. To more effectively use and store water from the Milk River, the Alberta Environment commissioned Klohn Crippen to prepare a study of water storage options.

The Team conducted a detailed analysis of the river and surrounding area, then prepared conceptual designs for three on-stream reservoirs and four off-stream options. Klohn Crippen specialists also assessed the environmental and archaeological impacts of each plan and developed economic analyses to establish the internal rate of return, net present value and benefit-cost ratios of the impact as indicators of project viability.

The Team found that the development of a major storage reservoir in the Milk River Basin would have a significant impact on local municipalities, encouraging additional economic growth and diversification while expanding irrigation by more than 13,000 hectares.



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