Glossary


Integrated water resources managementsearch for term

‘Integrated water resources management’ (IWRM) expresses the idea that water resources should be managed in a holistic way, co-ordinating and integrating all aspects and functions of water extraction, water control and water-related service delivery so as to bring sustainable and equitable benefit to all those dependent on the resource. IWRM therefore takes account of: natural aspects of the water resources system (surface water, groundwater, water quality); water uses in all sectors of the economy and for all purposes, including consumptive (agriculture, industry, domestic) and non-consumptive (ecosystems, hydropower, fisheries, recreation, navigation and flood control); the institutional framework for management of the resource; national objectives and constraints (social, legal, economic, financial, environmental); and the spatial variation of resources and demands (upstream-downstream, basin-wide usage, inter-basin transfer).

IWRM implies a concerted attempt to moderate between competing or conflicting demands by users and stakeholders. Effective IWRM will therefore be a dynamic and interactive process involving consultation across sectors, a high level of communications activity, and an appropriate institutional, legal and financial framework. The EU recognises the importance of IWRM in its Water Resources Framework Directive.