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River Basin Organisations (RBOs)

The river basin as a planning and management unit for water resources has been seen as a means of developing an integrated approach. Its closed geographic boundary system permits various sectors and users in a basin to work together: agriculture, flood control, industry, settlements, communities, etc. Since these water uses fall under the aegis of different administrative departments, a survey is needed to identify those present in the basin, their various roles and capacities, and how they will inter-relate, before an RBO can be established. RBOs have proved their worth in the following areas: watershed management including erosion control; data collection and storage for surface water flows; land-use planning and flood risk prevention; the facilitation of demand management decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of the uses of water and their relative values within the basin; co­ordination between the various sectoral authorities present in the basin and with stakeholders. Shortcomings include the fact that hydraulic boundaries do not match aquifer boundaries and water table over-exploitation and pollution of groundwater can easily be neglected.

To be effective, an RBO should have its own capacity to manage and regulate water resources and also to invest in studies, monitoring and research; it therefore needs an adequate budget. (See also Transboundary waters.)

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