During study tour visits to Switzerland and Spain regarding the Zarahshon Integrated Sub-basin Project, the project Team Leader and Deputy Team Leader were joined by three representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources and three senior basin representatives. The tour, funded by the EU and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, was jointly organised by Helvetas and Landell Mills.
In Switzerland the team attended a lecture on water governance and visited the Geneva Water Hub. They learned about the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace the Swiss Blue Peace Initiative in Central Asia and the transboundary groundwater recharge agreement between France and Switzerland. The group learned about the natural restoration of a small tributary of the Rhone River, a project which it is hoped will help improve the urban environment of Geneva and reduce the impact of flooding. Another project of interest to the group was the bilateral river management of the Rhone River between France and Switzerland. On the final day of their Switzerland trip, the team visited a lake where water levels are effectively managed to meet the demands of tourism, fisheries and agriculture in addition to the prediction of floods.
The visit to Spain primarily concerned basin management of the Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar. The group visited the office and field area of one of the oldest Water User Associations (WUA); the Acequia Real. This WUA has an impressive office and an efficient irrigation system. The group learned about the management room where fully automated information is received on precipitation and river flows, upon which management decisions are based. Next, the group visited the Turia Tribunal. Every Thursday potential water conflicts are mitigated between eight WUAs in front of the Cathedral of Valencia. This tribunal has been running for over 1000 years and is strengthened by its public position, in front of the Cathedral. The tour concluded with visits to the Tous dam which collapsed in 1982 and incentivised the improvement of flood forecasting. Professor Abel Solera from the Valencia Polytechnic University explained the modelling of the river basin with AQUATOOL. This software requires less data than others and could therefore be suitable tool in the Zarafshon basin.
By Lucy Austins
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