Water is for fighting over: Transboundary flows in the Indus River Basin

2018 Fall Cyberseminar Series

Hassaan Furqan Khan / Stanford University

Talk Description

A substantial proportion of total flow in the Indus River Basin, a critical lifeline for Pakistan’s agricultural-based economy, generates in other countries. Towards the eastern border, rapid infrastructure development from India threatens to reduce flows from Indus’ eastern tributaries governed by the Indus Water Treaty. On the western front, there is growing interest from Afghanistan in utilizing the hydroelectric potential of Kabul River, another major tributary to the Indus, where there is no existing transboundary water sharing agreement. Given the unique hydrology of the Kabul River, there is potential for increased conflict and mistrust between the two countries if development of the Kabul Basin is performed unilaterally.

This talk will provide a history of intra-country and inter-country flow apportionment agreements in the Indus Basin in Pakistan, discuss current basin conditions, and then delve deeper into transboundary water management in the Kabul River Basin. We will discuss development of a water systems model and its use in exploring relative impacts of climatic and operational changes on the water-energy nexus in the Kabul Basin. This work aims to shed light on potential benefits of joint development and operation of water infrastructure in the Basin for both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

CUAHSI's 2018 Fall Cyberseminar Series: Major Challenges in Key River Basins Around the World

Hosted by Katherine Schlef, CUAHSI

Water management of major transboundary river basins is fascinating in its complexity and is also increasingly challenged by change in both hydro-climatology and human populations. For example, the climatology in large transboundary river basins may be influenced by monsoons, mesoscale convective systems, hurricanes, or orthographic rainfall. The hydrology can be similarly complex, ranging from high-elevation glacier- or snowmelt-fed catchments to completely urban landscapes to low-lying flatlands or arid plains with substantial groundwater interactions. Furthermore, human use of water for agricultural, municipal and industrial, and hydropower generation purposes alters the natural water cycle and can become contentious when water crosses geopolitical boundaries and as demand for water increases. In this seminar series, you will hear perspectives from a diverse set of emerging researchers regarding the challenges and possible solutions facing major transboundary river basins in the world, such as the Indus River Basin in Pakistan, the American and Sacramento River Basins in California, the Ohio River Basin in the United States Midwest, and the Nile River Basin in Ethiopia. You will gain an increased appreciation for the complexity of water management in such basins and will be inspired by the innovative and novel methods being used to solve the many challenges they face.