Inter-Basin Transfers

Inter-Basin Transfers
ENTRY DATE: 03 May 2015| LAST UPDATE: 03 May 2015
Categories: Water Resources | Water
Technological Maturity: Applicable with caution
Technology Owners:
  • Governments
  • Banks and other implementing agencies
Needs Addressed

Trans-boundary river basin master plans

Adaptation Effects
  • Provides a more accessible source of water for areas where water is limited
  • Enables water recharge from reduced sources
  • Enhances water security in places where climate change is inducing enhanced rates of water depletion
Overview and Features

Inter-basin transfers are the transfer of large quantities of water from one major basin to another that is suffering from limited and reduced water supply.

  • Costs for labour
  • Costs for maintenance
  • Inter-basin transfer projects incur very high financial costs
Energy Source
  • Human resources to install
  • Fuel from transport etc for transfer
Ease of Maintenance

Comprehensive maintenance of water supply and management in both origin and transfer sites are necessary

Technology Performance
  • Provides a continued source of water in basin areas where water sources are depleting
  • Poorly planned and managed transfers have had detrimental effects on the affected communities and wider ecosystems
Considerations (technology transfer criteria, challenges, etc.)
  • Planning processes must consider the specific contexts of removal and transfer and the effects this will have on the local ecosystems in those areas
  • The employment of inter-basin transfer approaches can have detrimental effects if appropriate approaches are not employed. Planning and implementation should therefore be conducted by trained professionals and experts
  • Social issues such as social issues immigration to constructed areas and effects of new reservoirs, rate of job cutting, governmental subsides on agriculture and hydropower, among others must be considered in using this approach
  • Planning should include analysis of projections of future water availability in both the place of origin and the place of transfer
  • The chemical characteristics of the source and transfer site water must be matched in order to limit the destructive processes in the receiving basin area
  • Inter-basin transfers require institutional support via appropriate policy
Co-benefits, Suitability for Developing Countries
  • A safe and more regular supply of water for improved health conditions and reduced reliance on unsafe alternative water sources
  • Inter-basin transfers are large scale projects that require government and other comprehensive institutional support
  • Management can be community-run, but should account for the specific socio-political context of the areas accessing or utilising the water sources in some way
Information Resources

Cosens, B. 2010. New Era of Interbasin Water Transfers. Envirotech Publications. Available from: [18 January 2015]

Gurung P, Bharati, L. 2012. Downstream impacts of the Melamchi Inter-Basin Water Transfer Plan (MIWTP) under current and future climate change projections. Hydro Nepal: Journal of Water, Energy and Environment Special Issue: 23-29.

Maknoon, R., Kazem, M. an Hasanzadeh,M. 2012 Inter-Basin Water Transfer Projects and Climate Change: The Role of Allocation Protocols in Economic Efficiency of the Project. Case Study: Dez to Qomrood Inter-Basin Water Transmission Project (Iran). Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 4(9): 750-758.