The Freshwater Health Index is implemented at the basin scale in collaboration with local water managers and users. A co-development process helps ensure that the tool is suited to help governments, communities and businesses better analyze the benefits and risks of water-related decisions and meet their informational needs.
The Index is being tested and refined in two key basins in Asia: the Dongjiang River in China’s Pearl River basin and the Lower Mekong in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 2017, a set of globally-representative basins will be selected – taking into consideration different levels of data availability, development trajectories and hydrologic conditions – and assessed.
Dongjiang River Test Bed
The Dongjiang River is one of the main tributaries of the Pearl River system in southern China. It is the primary water source for more than 40 million people, including the city of Hong Kong, which is located outside of the basin but receives about 80% of its municipal water supply from the Dongjiang. Since in the late 1950s, demands on the have Dongjiang increased as dams were constructed for flood control and hydropower. At present, water allocation among the cities and water quality are some of the region’s top concerns. Applying the Freshwater Health Index to the Dongjiang provides an opportunity to, for the first time, comprehensively assess the state of the basin at a time when stakeholders are starting to think about its future trajectory.
Results for the assessment of the Dongjiang coming in February 2017.
Lower Mekong Test Bed
The Mekong is the 16th longest river in the world. From its source in the Tibetan plateau, it flows through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia before reaching the South China Sea in southern Vietnam. As a result, there is a dramatic seasonal change in water level and varying river geography. Nearly 65 million people rely on the basin for protein and livelihoods. Growing population pressure and new demands for hydropower and other services are placing increasing stress on the basin’s health. Important decisions with long-term and potentially irreversible consequences must be made. The Freshwater Health Index will describe the status of the Lower Mekong to help inform better decisions as a wide range of development initiatives potentially will be competing for water resources.
Results for the assessment of the Lower Mekong coming in March 2017.