INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON WATER RESOURCES SYSTEMS (ICWRS)
The INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON WATER RESOURCE SYSTEMS (ICWRS) promotes research development on the integration of all phases of water resource protection, planning, design, management, operation and utilisation. The range of scientific interests represented by ICWRS is especially related to the term “system” in its name. A system describes a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. Water resources are a distinguished example of interacting bodies under the influence of related forces. Responsibility for a system is shared among its components. Resulting from this double integration, ICWRS topics today cover a wide range of scientific interests with a common focal point that can be described by:
Integrated water resources management (IWRM).
What does IWRM mean? The modern concept of Integrated Water Resources Management considers two basic categories:
• the natural system, which is of critical importance for resource availability and quality, and
• the human system, which fundamentally determines the resource use, waste production and pollution of the resource.
An integrated approach needs a balanced consideration of both categories and their interdependencies as well as the different internal relationships within each category.
The activities of ICWRS are dedicated to new approaches in order to find a balance between society’s demand for water and the restoration of waters as part of the conservation of nature in the 21st century. Here the integration challenge consists in linking water quantity and quality, atmospheric/surface water and groundwater, land-use and water management, small-scale sub-catchments and large scale main river basin systems, ecosystems and economic/social development, water supply and water conservation, urban and rural water users, poor communities and better-off users, bio-physical and socio-economic information, statutory water governance and participation by catchment stakeholders, routine management and responses to hydrological extremes, technology application and capacity-building/advocacy etc.
Hydrological sciences have to consider jointly the four characteristics of a water resource (1) quantity, (2) quality, (3) condition of the aquatic habitat and (4) condition of the aquatic biota. The ICWRS builds on, and bridges the separate disciplines, promotes opportunities for cross-fertilization among these disciplines and also challenges them on matters of internal focus and priority in the sustainability/systems context of modern water management concepts.
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