The Surma - Kushiyara river basin: water allocation now and in the future

The Surma and Kushiyara river basin is located in the northeast region of Bangladesh. Flooding occurs at a yearly basis in this region, which has a great influence on the way of living of the local population, on the natural resources and on the economic stability of the region.

Domestic and industrial water use, irrigation, navigation and groundwater recharge are the main socio-economic water demands. In particular in the dry season, large amounts of water are needed and shortages already occur at some locations. An integrated water resources management approach is needed to come to equitable and sustainable use of the natural resources.

The (river) ecosystem should also be taken into account. This is done by specifying so-called Environmental Flow Requirements (EFR’s), which express the need for river flows and water availability to maintain these ecosystems.

The objective of this study is to analyse the water allocation structure in the river basin, for the present situation as well as for future external scenarios, taking into account the Environmental Flow Requirements (EFR’s) that secure the social and ecological needs in the area.

It is expected that in the coming years some manmade as well as natural changes will occur that have a great impact on the river basin. The largest change will be due to the construction of the Tipaimukh Hydropower Dam on the Barak River, upstream of the river basin in India (possibly in combination with an irrigation-barrage). The partial regulation of the discharge in the Barak River, which bifurcates at the border of Bangladesh into the Surma and the Kushiyara, will result in less severe or even no flooding in the river basin. This will have consequences for the water supply to the different demands.

In general it can be concluded that in the present situation, there is, on an annual basis, enough water available in the river basin to fulfil the social and economic demands.

From the analysis it can be concluded that the EFR’s in the rivers are mostly met in the dry season, but in the monsoon season mostly not met. This is a direct result of the regulation of the discharges by the Tipaimukh Dam. The EFR’s on the floodplains can be met if the correct measures/strategy is implemented.

Graduation committee:
Prof. ir. E. van Beek
ir. K.S. Meijer
ir. W. Luxemburg
dr. ir. E. Mosselman