Govt to adopt new water data tool abandons the obsolete manual system

The federal and provincial governments have reached a consensus regarding the decades-old manual system of recording river flows, storage, and surface water availability to replace it with new software expected to remove water-related interprovincial misgivings from October 1st amid ongoing floods and seasonal river flow variations.

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“All calculations, data collections, flow forecasts, and allocations of provincial waters shares for Rabi 2022-23 would be solely designed and based on Water Accord Apportionment Tool (WAA-Tool) when we make preparations later this month and plan for the next season,” said Khalid Idrees Rana, director, and spokesperson for the Indus River System Authority (Irsa).

“There would be no manual recording of flows, storages, and withdrawals or even planning water distribution among the provinces from now onwards,” he told while speaking at an event to discuss the technical aspects of the software.

He said that WAA-Tool had been in use for three years now side by side with the manual operations, and ultimately, stakeholders of the 1991 water accord and concerned agencies involved in water regulations and reservoir operations have agreed that from now onwards is the time to shift to the new tool as a precise and trustworthy mechanism for seasonal planning and water sharing among the provinces.

The final consensus was reached among the provinces, the water resources ministry, Wapda, and Irsa on September 12.

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“Three years of fault-free operations developed trust in and acceptability to the new software,” Mr. Rana responded to a question.

The new system can make flow forecasts for both Kharif and Rabi seasons, handle operations of both Tarbela and Mangla dams, conveyance allowances, water use allocations under the accord, and data collection and analysis which would be available to every stakeholder at any station to access and work out shares as per allocation with a single click.

The same result would be available to all unlike the past practice of provincial irrigation departments, Irsa and Wapda have their own calculations and water availability forecasts, which has routinely led to a difference of opinions over their respective results, leading to confusion and mistrust.

Mr. Rana said the parallel operations of both systems since Kharif 2019 had helped end interprovincial disputes. The software tool has been developed and tested jointly by the Ministry of Water Resources, Irsa, Wapda, and provincial irrigation departments in collaboration with the Australian government through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

However, stakeholders in Pakistan rep­eated their demand to Australian experts to improve the tool’s capability to accommodate the mid-season review process so that if the situation changes in the initial two months of a given season than projected, the planning could be altered accordingly.

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