Making water information relevant on local to global scale – the role of Information Systems for Integrated Water Management

University dissertation from Stockholm : Institutionen för naturgeografi och kvartärgeologi

Abstract: Relevant information is essential for finding solutions in Integrated Water Management (IWM). Complex water systems and a need for increasing integration of sectors, actors and scales in IWM require new methods for developing and managing such information. This thesis investigates the role of information within the IWM process, as well as the main challenges for development of representative, accessibleand harmonized information. Results show how information needs and the information production process for IWM may be systematized, and indicate a large potential for information system development for IWM. However, in order to reach the full potential, today’s limited and heterogeneous water information needs to become more comprehensive, transparent, interoperable, dynamic, scalable and openly accessible. Large pressures on water systems are found in coastal catchment areas that are unmonitored across the local to the global scale, indicating a large importance of these areas for nutrient and pollutant loading. The globally accessible runoff data from catchment areas that are rich in pressures from population, agriculture and general economic activity further exhibit a rapidly declining trend during recent years. Major water system changes may therefore pass unnoticed if analyzed on the basis of openly accessible runoff global data. Furthermore, large discrepancies are found between land cover databases, which may result in major uncertainties in quantification of water and evapotranspiration flows. Identified information challenges may be relatively easily overcome by making better use of available information, while other challenges such as development of consistent baselines of core data and a possible re-prioritization of water-environmental monitoring programs may be both difficult and costly.