Background: The East Kolkata Wetlands system has become a research trove. Describing a little known wetland as a tutorial ecosystem for learning wetland wise use and thereafter getting it included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands was good. It took me about 20 years. But the subsequent lesson of how feeble is the strength of existing wetland conservation tools including the one of the Ramsar Bureau, has been much more absorbing and that needed to be revisited. Revisiting started with re-familiarisation. Familiarisation is the tool where perception is the task. No matter how deep the extent of perception research aimed at, the primary tool that the researcher must carry is ‘familiarisation’. How do you start knowing a language? By knowing the alphabets. How do you start knowing about the ecosystem? Start familiarising yourself with the ecosystem. This is an unalterable roadmap to learn about ecosystems. And that is how we begin to learn Ecology.
Place of Study: East Kolkata Wetlands, West Bengal, India.
Discussion: The work that we have taken up now begins with the study of perception of the East Kolkata Wetlands ecosystem residents and how the real estate lobby looks at them, thinks about them and finally attempts to destroy them. We have got results which in many cases have been surprising if not stunning. We also know that the route to conserve a threatened wetland is much more complex, more non-linear and needs to be inclusive in content. I have initiated research focusing on wastewater as commons. This has not been done before. The reason for no available research in wastewater as commons is straightforward. Municipal wastewater is always seen as a pollutant and never understood as a resource as it is, without treatment. It has been the worldview of the enlightened fishermen and the fish producers in the East Kolkata Wetlands, who saw wastewater as resource and used it in their ponds to grow fish. This unique phenomenon has turned wastewater as commons. However, I will call it a localised commons, and not to be considered as global commons. We are not even in a position to list our lessons learnt because we continue to doubt ourselves. Or maybe this happens to be our first lesson: To look at the phenomenon of ‘certainty’ differently. In an ecosystem very few things can be said to be certain. Most things that happen are unpredictable and non-linear in the span of time.
Aims: Through the lens of dynamic change in the city’s waterscape, this paper examines Hyderabad’s global aspiration and the ways it impacts water provisions and accessibility issues for the poor locals.
Study Design: This paper is based on descriptive research design accompanied by surveys and qualitative interviews.
Place and Duration of Study: Hyderabad (India). While the surveys and majority of qualitative interviews were done during December 2013, a few more follow-up fieldwork related observations and discussions were conducted during September 2015.
Methodology: This paper is based on qualitative human geography methods – largely consisting of fieldwork observations, application of visual methods, surveys and personal interviews in Hyderabad.
Results: Hyderabad in India provides an interesting account of this trend of neoliberal developments where poor local farmers are pushed out from their land to make way for a world-class knowledge corridor, popularly known as Cyberabad. The processes of worlding have also impacted the larger environment and sustainability issues of the city – from encroaching lakes for real-estate developments to privatizing the water provisions leading to exacerbating accessibility challenges.
Conclusions: This paper concludes that while the state government was able to map Hyderabad into the global map as a high-tech and smart destination, access to basic water supply is increasingly getting skewed towards benefiting the elites and alienating the poor. There is an urgent need for policy makers to address the challenges of water provision and (in) accessibility.
Aims: The Mekong Delta of Vietnam is facing impacts from climate change and sea level rise. Two extreme weather conditions – drought and flood – have occurred much more often recently. Faced with the challenges of drought, the government of Vietnam has an idea of constructing a super sea dyke (SSD)/barrage at Rach Gia Bay – Kien Giang province to create a fresh water lake that will provide water to water scarce regions in the Long Xuyen Quadrangle (LXQ) and especially, Ca Mau Peninsula (CMP). Three options for the SSD have been proposed: Option I: short route, 30 km, creating a small lake with a surface area of 357 km² and a volume of 609 million m3; Option II: short route track, 31.8 km, creating a lake with a surface area of 425 km² and a volume of 795 million m3; and Option III: long route, 47.5 km, forming a large lake with a surface area of 823 km², and a value of 2.58 billion m3 in volume. Furthermore, each option includes at least a sluice gate and a navigation lock. The objective of this study was to assess the impacts of wastewater discharges on the water quality in the proposed barrage.
Place of Study: Rach Gia City, Kien Giang province, Vietnam.
Methodology: Based on primary and secondary data for wastewater concentration estimates and the MIKE 21 FM model, water pollutant (TSS, BOD5, COD, total nitrogen, total phosphorous) fate in the barrage under Option II (the consensus-based optimal option) was assessed.
Results: The results show that only considering the untreated wastewater from Rach Gia City would make the lake become a wastewater repository, especially for organic pollutants, as it will receive a total wastewater volume of 28,432 m3/day from domestic sources and 16,711 m3/day from industrial sources with a total load of TSS, BOD and COD being up to 25,482; 12,281; 21,074 kg/day, respectively. The MIKE 21 Flow Model FM was used to simulate and evaluate water quality of the lake considering different methods/modes of discharging treated wastewater into the lake. The results show that even though wastewater might be treated to meet the water quality standards of Vietnam (Class B), the lake still could become contaminated locally; different locations of treated wastewater discharge (e.g. 1 point or 5 points near the bank or even at the middle of the lake) do not help to ensure uniform water quality in all areas of the lake.
Conclusion: An optimal option proposed is to control water quality not only for Rach Gia City, but also for other rivers and canals which are flowing to the lake to improve the quality of water supply for different purposes.
Aims: North Central Vietnam is an area that may be heavily affected by climate change induced water disasters like flood, drought and salinity. This paper focuses on investigating the impacts of water disasters on, and analyzing community-based adaptation of, affected communities in the Central provinces of Vietnam.
Place and Duration of Study: Hung Nhan commune (in Nghe An province) and Yen Ho commune (in Ha Tinh province), with surveys being conducted in August, 2013 and June, 2014.
Methodology: Hung Nhan commune and Yen Ho commune on the Lam River were selected as study areas since they are typical localities affected by flood. Although the two areas are affected by flood due to heavy rain, the underlying cause of flood in each commune is different. While the former is outside the dyke and suffers flood due to the Lam River, the latter is inside the dyke and endures inundation due to poor drainage. In doing this research, two methodologies were employed: A household survey to understand impacts of water disaster and adaptive capacity in the two study cases, with total participantion of 164 households in Hung Nhan commune and 190 households in Yen Ho commune; and the CVCA methodology (Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis) of the CARE organization in assessing adaptation strategies from the perspective of community.
Results: We found that people in Hung Nhan are more physically vulnerable than in Yen Ho due to its location (outside the dyke) and the capitals of livelihood of people here are not as good as that in Yen Ho. Not surprisingly, the number of poor households in Hung Nhan is higher than in Yen Ho.
Conclusion: Through a bottom-up approach, the study found differences between adaptive capacities of the communities and identified the top priorities in each community that need to be addressed to increase their adaptive capacity.
Background: High As levels in Cambodia’s groundwater were first reported in a small scale, but country-wide survey in 2001 and since then a number of studies have been undertaken to identify the spatial extent of the problem, release mechanisms and intake pathways. An exposure risk study was first published in 2008 but was done only for Kandal Province.
Aims: This study aims to i) characterize the current water use pattern of people living in at risk areas; and ii) quantify the size of the population exposed to harmful levels of arsenic through the consumption of groundwater in the highly arsenic affected areas of Cambodia.
Methodology: This study consisted of questionnaire development, site selection and questionnaire application for 998 residents in 50 villages of Kandal, Kampong Cham, and Prey Veng provinces.
Results: The questionnaires revealed that rain water is the main source of water during the rainy season while tube well and surface water are relatively important sources of water for both the rainy and dry seasons. The proportion of population exposed to As levels over 50 ppb is 6.3% in the surveyed villages. We conclude that surface water is still an important source for rural Cambodians, thus household water treatment and storage (HWTS) programs should be further implemented to avoid the substitution health effect from As instead of microbial contamination. Regular monitoring programs should be considered since tube well water is still being used in those areas.
Aims: Wat Phnom sub catchment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is highly susceptible to flash flooding during rain events. The objective of this study is to determine where wastewater and stormwater in the Wat Phnom area are discharged and to determine the hydrological and hydraulic functionality of the drainage system in the area. This specific subcatchment has not been included in previous drainage system modelling of Phnom Penh.
Place and Duration of Study: Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2014.
Methodology: In this study, PCSWMM was selected to do the model simulation. Rainfall events for May 23rd, 2014 and 3 design storms of rainfall (2 year, 5 year, and 10 year return periods) were developed to drive the model. The Sensitivity-based Radio Tuning Calibration (SRTC) tool was used for model calibration with the depth of water at junction WL16 for the May 23rd, 2014 event. SRTC provides fast calibration for any model size or model complexity and calibrates to multiple objective or response functions simultaneously by filters to find matches for specific calibration locations. Consequently, PCSWMM can be employed as a useful tool to examine the hydrological and hydraulic performance of the drainage system with different rainfall design storms to provide information for stormwater management.
Results: This study confirmed that the Wat Phnom sub catchment is a part of the area which transfers water to the Boeng Cheng Ek wetland. There are two sub catchments within Wat Phnom (Sub catchment No. 1 and No. 5) which had particularly high runoff, and four specific nodes were particularly sensitive to flash flooding.
Conclusion: The drainage system is not sufficient to handle rainfall exceeding a 2 year return period, where surface flooding could occur for duration of up to 2 hours.
Aims: The objective of this study is twofold: i) explore a simple, empirical relationship based on freely available, remotely sensed data and the water levels recorded at Prek Kdam (one week prior) to predict total inundated area of the Tonle Sap flood plain; and ii) use the relationship to provide a preliminary demarcation of flood risk zones around the Tonle Sap Lake.
Study Design: This study is designed to predict inundation in the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia.
Place and Duration of Study: Tonle Sap Lake, with data and satellite images for the period between June 2008 and November 2013.
Methodology: Three approaches were adopted in this study: 1) Classification: to examine flooded regions during wet seasons by Landsat images. 2) Regression model: to explore the relationship between the flooded areas and water level at Prek Kdam, near the mouth of the Tonle Sap Lake. 3) Visualization and estimation: To observe dynamics of inundation and predict the potential flooded areas based on the regression.
Results: The adoption of GIS and remote sensing helps the delineation of flood zones. The results of the statistical analysis demonstrated a strong linear relationship between water levels at Prek Kdam and flooded areas at the Tonle Sap Lake. Together with the adoption of GIS and remote sensing technologies, the regression model can be further used to support flood prediction, management and regional planning.
Conclusion: This research develops a flood warning tool for the government and the public to intuitively evaluate the potential flooding areas in the Tonle Sap Lake during monsoon seasons. It can further help the government prepare for flood risk management and develop a sustainable environment.
Aims: In Cambodia the frequency and impacts of natural disasters has been increasing. The impacts of droughts and floods are most severe within the agricultural sector which accounts for around 29% of Cambodia’s GDP and 59% of the work force. In this paper we assess the farmers’ perspectives on risk and adaptation strategies in the Mekong, Cambodia.
Methodology: Interviews were conducted with 280 farmers in four Mekong provinces in Cambodia as well as at least 10 representatives of local authority and civil society staff from each of the four provinces.
Place and Duration of Study: Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Stung Treng, and Ratanakiri provinces, Cambodia, 2013.
Results: Having experienced the adverse effects of flood many times, the farmers ranked flood highest among other risks. Drought was ranked second in particular in areas with lack of access to irrigation. Other risks considered by farmers were fluctuations in agriculture input and output prices, change in weather and shortage of irrigation water. The perception of farmers about the level of risk was closely linked with their adaptation strategy. If risks are perceived as low, no action is taken to cope with the risk. The government pays more attention to floods compared to other disasters. The research shows that most farmers (88%) got support from government and NGOs when there was a flood. The government and NGOs distributed food and hygiene packages during floods and crop seeds after floods. Because this support only lasts a short time, it does not compensate all impacts of the flood. Beside this emergency relief, the government and NGOs support the farmers to improve their livelihood through agriculture extension. However, the farmers did not think the program fit with them. They applied their own adaptation strategies such as selling labor and borrowing money to recover from the flood damage.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence that the ongoing climate change programs initiated by NGOs and government alone cannot help farmers recover from the impact of floods. Consequently in this paper we argue that the government should improve their programs to help farmers cope with floods, droughts and other risks.
Aims: This paper uses a narrative, case study approach to illustrate water vulnerabilities associated with a remote, Karen Hill Tribe village in northwestern Thailand and discusses some of the measures taken to address these vulnerabilities.
Place and Duration of Study: Huai Pla Kong Village, Tak Province, Thailand; October, 2011-November, 2013.
Methodology: A needs and vulnerability survey was administered to the head-of-household or spouse of 11 families in the village. The survey tool was a combination of closed and open-ended questions that provided basic information on demographics, drinking water, sanitation, health, and agricultural practices. Drinking water sources including wells, rainwater harvesting systems, a local stream and a mountain spring were sampled in the rainy and dry seasons and analyzed for E. coli levels. Health care interventions were introduced, including a couple of day-long health clinics and the distribution of ceramic drinking water filters.
Results: Wells and the local stream generally were contaminated with E. coli, while the rainwater harvesting systems tended to have lower E. coli levels. The majority of families had a main source and secondary source for domestic water, which reduced vulnerability, although on average per capita water use was towards the low end of the global range. Families boiled their water about half the time before use, but only 2 of 11 families were able to link contaminated food or water to diarrhea. Most families had access to pour flush toilets or pit latrines, although 27% defecated in the open. Farmers noted that water availability for crop irrigation could be limited. Most farmers used pesticides on their crops and it was observed that pesticide handling practices were inadequate. The village practices traditional shifting or swidden agriculture and extensive deforestation was visible, which may negatively impact crop productivity and water quality, although farmers interviewed did not believe erosion was a concern. The introduction of a ceramic drinking water filter with one family improved the quality of their water and appeared to positively impact the health of the babies in the household. Ceramic filters subsequently were distributed to 7 additional families. Finally, a team of graduate students from the Asian Institute of Technology designed and costed a rainwater harvesting system and a wastewater collection and vertical flow wetland treatment system for the village.
Conclusion: The study successfully identified water vulnerabilities for the village, including limited availability for irrigation (and to a lesser extent, domestic use); bacterial contamination of well water sources; poorly managed use of pesticides; and clear-cutting of forest which produced high erosion potential. Some measures were developed to address these vulnerabilities, the most successful being the introduction of a ceramic drinking water filter to a study family. Shortcomings of the program included our lack of a more permanent presence in the village which reduced our capacity building opportunities that could address water vulnerabilities more fully. The headman of the village had limited interest in the initiatives, which meant progress was slow. A missed opportunity resulted from the recent political turmoil in Thailand which eliminated our access to the village and therefore no follow up on the 7 water filters or construction of a rainwater harvesting and sanitation system has been done to date.
Background: Floods pose hazards to society, the environment, and the economy. For instance, the flood in Jakarta on 15–23 January 2013 blocked roads, forced businesses in the capital to close, and displaced at least 20,000 people.
Aims: This research is aimed at estimating the flood inundation in Jakarta City for different return periods of expected peak discharges.
Methodology: The hydraulics and floodplain delineation were conducted to identify the inundated areas using a coupled HEC-RAS and WMS approach for the January 2013 flood. Field survey to get flood depth and flood extent information from the local residents was also done.
Results: The results showed that the model estimates were close to the observed data and this approach can be applied to other flood vulnerable areas, particularly in floodplain areas. Finally, this study is useful for scientists and water engineers who are interested in the development of risk mapping of flood hazards.
Our paper provides an introduction to, and context for, the 10 papers that comprise this special volume: Waterscapes Asia: Concepts and Practices. We discuss the various interpretations of what is meant by a “waterscape” and suggest some ways forward that may provide a bridge between the theoretical waterscapes framework and practical considerations that we hope will make the waterscapes concept more broadly useful. These 10 papers, representing contributions from India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia are decidedly applied and consider issues of inequitable socio-hydrological conditions that are impacted by flows of capital, political relations, and policy. Yet, they also represent efforts in quantifying water quality and quantity within the human-natural system nexus, and most importantly, the central theme of familiarisation as a path to more effective waterscape management.