Something About Hydroinformatics
Printed on 9th March 2022 issue of Enviro Annotations
Water security is a major — and growing — challenge for many countries today. The global population is spiralling, and estimates show that with current practices, the world will face a 40% shortfall between forecasted demand and available supply of water by 2030. Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 would require a 60% increase in agricultural production, which consumes 70% of water resources today, and a 15% increase in water withdrawals.
One of the major challenges in water systems is a culture of analysis without data and decision making without analysis that thrives in an environment of data access, capacity, and governance challenges. Adequate information is critical to monitor trends, understand the essence of water problems today, and inform solutions accounting for future challenges and opportunities. Water Information systems are needed to support water resources monitoring and system analysis, as well as to inform decision making under uncertainty and for hydro-meteorological forecast and warning.
Achieving effective water information systems is however not an easy task, because water systems are complex due to the interrelation of composite hydrological processes with social, environmental, and economic factors across spatial and temporal scales. Data on water levels, flows and water quality is often inadequate in spatial and temporal coverage to get a full understanding of a river basin or aquifer and spread over multiple institutions. Many countries and regions continue to struggle to put in place even basic modern generation water information systems and hence face shortcomings across the hydroinformatics data value chain.
HydroInformatics is the use of modern data, analytics, knowledge, and communication to provide insights to better monitor, plan and manage water resources in a holistic manner for an appropriate system, for example, watershed, aquifer, country, trans-boundary basins. It offers a portal to explore how a wide range of emerging digital technologies and innovations for data gathering analysis and modelling can be deployed to help solve challenging water information problems. These are slowly moving from retail-level applications for specific elements of water systems to broader flexible systems that can leverage a range of services.
HydroInformatics has emerged to help end-users overcome having to solve individual tasks in different systems, comply with different requirements for input data, as well as deal with complicated handling of outputs to produce useful visualisations of results. As such, Hydroinformatics combines the application of available data/information, simulation and decision-making models, and communication technologies to support informed sustainable planning and management of water resources.
India has 16% of the World’s population, while it has limited resources as 2.4% of the World’s land area and 4% of the World’s fresh water resources. Hence, it’s important for the world’s largest democracy to build its water database. India initiated generation of a database and the implementation of a web enabled Water Resources Information System popularly known as India-WRIS.
Under the National Hydrology Project, India WRIS has been fundamentally revised and improved, new modules and functionalities have been added and technologies have been updated. India-WRIS provides a single window solution for all water resources data and information in a standardised national GIS framework. It allows users to Search, Access, Visualise, Understand and Analyse comprehensive and contextual water data for the assessment, monitoring, planning and development of water resources in the context of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
India WRIS is managed by the National Water Informatics Centre (NWIC), under the Ministry of Jal Shakti that has been created to be a repository of nation-wide water resources data, providing a ‘Single Window’ source of updated data on water resources & allied themes. NWIC’s mandate also is to provide value added products and services to all stakeholders for its management and sustainable development.