Basin Water Allocation Planning: Principles, Procedures and Approaches for Basin Allocation Planning

Publication | May 2013

This book considers modern approaches to dealing with issues of access to water at the basin scale, particularly through the allocation of water among administrative regions.

As water scarcity has increased globally, water allocation plans and agreements have taken on increasing significance in resolving international, regional and local conflicts over access to water. This book considers modern approaches to dealing with these issues at the basin scale, particularly through the allocation of water among administrative regions.

This book is the result of a collaborative effort between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the General Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design (GIWP), Ministry of Water Resources, People's Republic of China.

GIWP has been tasked with coordinating the review and revision of a number of People's Republic of China's water policies, including its master basin plans, the national water strategy, and the development of new interprovincial water allocation plans. This book was originally conceived to provide support to these processes through the review and dissemination of modern approaches to water management challenges. The final product provides systematic analyses of the general process and methodologies for basin water allocation, which the authors consider to have universal application.

The primary output from this collaboration has been three books, which together consider three fundamental water resources management issues: river basin planning, basin water allocation, and flood risk management.


This book is focused on basin allocation planning and the granting of regional water shares; that is, the allocation of water from a common resource - typically a shared river between different administrative regions. As such, it covers issues related to both surface and groundwater. However, given the emphasis on regional sharing arrangements, more attention is paid to surface water issues, which are generally the focus of basin-level water allocation agreements. That said, groundwater is a critical and often neglected aspect of the hydrological cycle.

Amongst other things, groundwater is a relevant consideration in water allocation planning where a plan is specifically addressing sharing arrangements for a transboundary aquifer, where groundwater and surface water supplies are connected, and where groundwater provides an alternative (current or potential) water source for one or more regions.


  • Executive Summary
  • Glossary
  • Introduction
  • Principles and Framework for Allocation
    • Role, History and Evolution of Water Allocation
    • Modern Approcahes to Basinwater Allocation
    • Framework for Water Allocation
    • Principles for Determining Entitlements to Water
    • Content of a Plan and Defining Regional Water Shares
    • Variability and Uncertainty
    • Process for Developing Abasin Allocation Plan
    • Enabling Environment and Implementation
  • Procedures and Approaches
    • Assessing Allocable Water
    • Environmental Flow Assessment
    • Socio-Economic Models and Assessments
  • References