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Enabling Integrated Management of Water Resources in Latin America

Basin modeling supports long-term water resource planning in Latin America

Irrigation, water supply, hydropower, and other infrastructure projects depend on the availability of sufficient water resources, but these resources are vulnerable to climate change, population growth, and shifts in land use associated with urbanization, industrial growth, and increasing demand for food.

To ensure water is managed in a sustainable, efficient, and socially equitable way, governments and planning authorities are increasingly adopting a framework known as integrated water resources management. This framework requires accurate estimates of the amount of water that will be available in the future, under various development and climate scenarios.

Creating Hydro-BID to Model Future Water Resource Conditions

To support the preparation of such estimates, we developed the Hydro-BID modeling system for the Latin America and Caribbean region, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank. Hydro-BID is an adaptation of our Watershed Flow and Allocation Model (WaterFALL) system configured for the United States.

Hydro-BID includes a rainfall-runoff­ model, more than 233,000 watershed delineations, and a built-in database to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on water availability and water-related infrastructure projects throughout the region. We have since applied the Hydro-BID model to project changes in water resources and usage in Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and Guatemala.

For Argentina’s Rio Grande watershed, we projected a 37 percent increase in irrigation water demand by 2060, accounting for increased temperatures due to climate change. We also found that population growth will drive urban and industrial demand to increase by 100 percent, and that most of this additional demand could be met by improving the efficiency of irrigation and urban water systems.

In Peru, we simulated water flow from the Piura River under various climate scenarios over the next 30 years, delivering data for Peru’s National Water Authority to compare against its estimates of water demand over the same period.

Learn more about how Peru has benefited from Hydro-BID.

Ongoing Work Supports Water Resource Planning in Latin America

We continue to work with the Inter-American Development Bank to add new capabilities to Hydro-BID and support the adoption of the system as the standard hydrologic modeling tool for integrated water resources management in Latin America region.

To further support the resource management goals of these nations, we provide training and technical support to enable hydrologists with local water resource management authorities to develop functional Hydro-BID basin models. These models are critical components of water resource management decision-support systems, allowing efficient allocation of water for current and future demands under changing climate conditions.