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Posted 8/19/2014

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.USACE’s Institute for Water Resources (IWR) and its International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) participated in the the International Symposium on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which was held in conjunction with the annual general assembly meeting of the North American Network of Basin Organizations (NANBO) at the Université Laval in Quebec City, Quebec, 7-9 May 2014. The symposium was organized by NANBO in collaboration with the Regroupement des organismes de bassins versants du Québec (ROBVQ), the Conseil de gouvernance de l’eau des basins versants de la rivière Saint-François, the Communauté métropolitaine de Québec, and Université Laval.

NANBO, which is part of the global network of river basin organizations known as the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO), includes member river basin organizations from Greenland to Panama, including organizations in the Caribbean.

The highlight of USACE IWR-ICIWaRM’s participation was a keynote address delivered by Dr. Jerome Delli-Priscoli on the management of transboundary waters. Dr. Delli-Priscoli spoke about the challenges —for both international boundaries as well as State boundaries—using the Columbia River Treaty and River Basin Organizations (RBOs) as examples. RBOs in Federal systems teach important lessons about international water resources management, emphasizing that no one strategy fits all RBOs since geography, management issues, and political cultures differ among them.

Dr. Delli-Priscoli explained how, over the last few decades, a number of macro social trends have emerged that can be seen as triggers to cooperative water actions. Such triggers may include the need to address recurrent unsolved shared water problems; new hardware and software offer tools that allow non-technical stakeholders to jointly create models and algorithms with technical experts for water management options; and water actions for mutual gain and the joint creating of benefits on and off the water.

The water management flexibility provided by water structures such as storage facilities, are seen by many as a practical means to create a variety of societal benefits, as long as such development is approached from a sustainable context. For example, such storage can not only be utilized to generate electricity, it can allow for longer season irrigation, facilitate the safety of a water supply during droughts, and increase the reliability of uninterrupted navigation, while also providing needed flexibility for ensuring environmental flows to better sustain aquatic ecosystems and associated fish and wildlife needs.

He pointed out that what is especially important is that this ability to regulate water really represents a means of managing uncertainties at either end of the hydrograph, and to the degree that risk management and uncertainty are understood, other socioeconomic and ecosystem services benefits can emerge.

The USACE team was led by IWR and ICIWaRM Director, Mr. Bob Pietrowsky, along with Dr. Hal Cardwell, Director of USACE’s Conflict Resolution and Public Participation Expertise Center at the Institute, and Senior Environmental Specialist and Group Manager, Ms. Janet Cushing. They were joined by other colleagues from the U.S., including Dr. John Mathews, Conservation International and managing director for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) – a signature initiative of the U.S. Water Partnership, and Dr. Carol Collier, former Executive Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission, and now with Drexel University. The U.S. participants also moderated and/or presented at several other symposium sessions, including:

    • Sharing good practices for transboundary waters management 
    • Contribution to transboundary waters management by sub-national entities 
    • Quantifying the benefits of integrated water resources management 
    • Stakeholders participation in water management 
    • Water management, climate change adaptation and communities resilience

The event’s topics centered around integrated water resources management (IWRM) of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River Basin, as well as worldwide. Approximately 100 participating organizations as well as local and international partners attended.

More about NANBO

NANBO’s mission is to further the science and practice of integrated watershed management among basin organizations, state, province and local water agencies, ministries or departments, in collaboration with academic and research institutions, and other non-government groups throughout North America. The NANBO’s board of directors is now composed of members from Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, the United States and Mexico, thus ensuring representation across the North American territory. Additional information on NANBO and INBO can be found at:

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