Interbasin Transfers of Water for Southern Africa

Authored by: Samir Anwar Al-Gamal

Handbook of Drought and Water Scarcity

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498731003
eBook ISBN: 9781315226774
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, interbasin transfer of water (often hyphenated) describes manmade conveyance schemes, which move water from one river basin where it is available to another basin where water is less available or could be utilized better for human development. The purpose of such designed schemes can be to alleviate water shortages in the receiving basin, to generate electricity, or both. In some cases, interbasin transfers have been undertaken for political purposes. Since conveyance of water between natural basins are described as both a subtraction at the source and as an addition at the destination, such projects may be controversial in some places, and over time they may also be seen as controversial due to their scale, costs, and environmental or developmental impacts. Water transfers seriously impact the environment of the donor basin. They create or escalate threats to critically endangered species, Ramsar-listed wetlands, and protected areas. Dam constructed on the river from which water is taken can devastate its ecology, disrupt environmental flows, and block migrating fish.

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