Developing River Basin Models and Water Sharing Policy in the Upper Godavari


Video Interview with Carl Daamen, Principal Hydrologist, eWater


Source in the Upper Godavari Project Sheet

Developing River Basin Models and Water Sharing Policy in the Upper Godavari

eWater has been working with Government of Maharashtra Water Resources Dept. to build capacity in the use of tools to improve water management in the Upper Godavari basin. The Godavari river basin is the second largest in India and is a key area for irrigated agriculture in Maharashtra.  As in much of India, the river systems are dominated by the kharif/monsoon rains (July to October).  Relative to Australian climate conditions; these rains are reasonably reliable, but, in comparison to recent history in Maharashtra, the total rainfall and the timing of kharif rainfall are becoming more variable and this is causing distress in the catchment.  

A recent water shortage in the Upper Godavari basin increased pressure on the sharing of water between the upstream water users (with reservoirs nearly full) and downstream water users (with reservoirs nearly empty) and this resulted in legal action.  Around this time, the Government of Maharashtra, India, established a Sister State relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of New South Wales (NSW), Australia.   NSW (and Australia more generally) is in a unique position to help Maharashtra drawing on our experience of the water reform process.  This includes helping Maharashtra:

  • develop a better understanding of their water resource base,
  • implement robust basin-scale planning,
  • enact governance reforms supported by innovative policy and legal frameworks,
  • strengthen institutions and build professional capability. 

eWater is working with NSW to progress these outcomes.

For the Water Resources Department in Maharashtra, the challenge is to make a change in approach to a science-based decision support system underpinned by hydrological modelling. The application of river basin models supports the Australian water governance approach and is the primary component of the current project with Government of Maharashtra.  The MDBA and the Government of NSW have both made a substantial investment in the construction and application of river basin models – particularly within the Murray Darling Basin.   These models are a key component of their governance framework and we expect models will also be useful in Maharashtra – to improve understanding of basin water balance and to provide a test bed for new water management options.

eWater has supported the establishment of long-term modelling capability in Maharashtra using Source  (Australia’s National Hydrological Modelling Platform) as the river basin modelling tool. eWater helped to navigate data collection, administration and model building capacity during the establishment of the Government of Maharashtra IWRM modelling team and were on hand to lead model conceptualisation, calibration and scenario studies using the Source river basin model.  These models are now being used to support the development of water sharing policy for upstream and downstream reservoirs.

The outcomes of these studies were presented to senior water policy advisors and irrigation development corporation representatives at a one-week workshop in December 2017, in Mumbai. The workshop discussed the proposed Water Entitlements Framework and how to enhance basin management policies and governance. A key discussion topic at the workshop was how river basin models can be used to inform the development of new water management rules and policies. eWater then hosted a visit to Australia by senior Government of Maharashtra officials to enhance understanding of the practical application of a science-to-policy framework in the Murray Darling Basin, spanning federal, state and regional authorities, including a visit to an irrigated farm and a long conversation with the farmer.   

The Government of Maharashtra will continue to use river basin modelling to test water management options and facilitate discussion between different stakeholder groups in the Upper Godavari Basin.

Left to Right:
1. Meryl McKerrow, Partnerships Manager, eWater.
2. Mr. V.M. Kulkarni, Member (Engineering), Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, 
3. Amit Patjoshi, KPMG, Mumbai
4. Mr.R.B. Shukla, Deputy Secretary and Superintending Engineer, Water Resources Department, Gov of Maharashtra, Mumbai
5. Dr Carl Daamen, Principal Hydrologist, eWater,  
6. Mr. K.P. Bakshi, Chairman, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority,
7. Mr. I.S. Chahal, Principal Secretary (Water Resources), Water Resources Department, 
8.  Karina Redpath, Senior Hydrologist, eWater,
9. Mr. Avinash Surve, Executive Director, Vidarbha Irrigation, Development Corporation, Nagpur.
10. Mr. Prasad Narvekar, Superintending Engineer, Gosikhurd Lift Irrigation Project Division, Bhandara. 


Article written by Shaleen Chinenere 

Full Interview


Interview Sections

1. Introduction

2. What were the deep desired outcomes of the project?

3. What were the challenges while working on this project?

4. What do you see for the future of Maharashtra and eWater?

5. What roles does modelling play in the development of the Upper Godavari river basin?

6. Modelling is important for robust decision-making. What wcould be the long-term strategy for intergrating modelling into decision support systems for Maharashtra?

Additional Resources

Big Picture Study Visit: Parallels in Murray Darling and Godavari Basins

Australia is recognised internationally for having developed a strong system of water and river basin governance over many years. The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and NSW state water management agencies provide key examples of the application of these governance approaches.  In Maharashtra these responsibilities are held by the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) and other state agencies.   Water Governance in South East Australia has direct relevance to water and irrigation modernisation and reform being undertaken in Maharashtra including measures being developed and applied by the MWRRA.

Since 2014, the project developed under the Government of Maharashtra/NSW MOU has helped Maharashtra take steps towards developing a science-to-policy river basin modelling framework using the Source model; evaluate water management scenarios; and facilitate implementation of the Maharashtrian State Water Policy.

In February 2018, key senior members of the Government of Maharashtra joined eWater on a week-long fact finding mission to investigate the practical aspects of Murray Darling Basin plan implementation. The delegates had the opportunity interact will all levels of Australian water governance, from federal agencies (DFAT, MDBA, Bureau of Meteorology), state authorities (NSW Office of Water), regional water organisations (Goulburn-Murray Water), also including a private irrigation company and individual farmers. It was a great opportunity to form partnerships and to plan future opportunities for practical projects and knowledge exchange. 

Through meetings and field visits, we explored a variety of perspectives on water policy development, modelling for river basin management, water sharing and irrigation system automation, canal control and irrigation management on farms. 

Goulburn-Murray Water field tour to observe Rubicon water management hardware 


Article written by Shaleen Chinenere