Concerns of Watershed Management as Reflected in National Water Plan - Nepal 2005
The sub-sector water plans have been developed for implementation which will help to achieve the objectives of the national water plan. Environmental Action Plan on Management of Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems is one of the important sub-sector plans.
Current Status
Watersheds and aquatic ecosystems are integral parts of water-based infrastructure development because Nepal can be considered as a complex large watershed of numerous watersheds and the water flowing from these watersheds and aquatic ecosystem is used for irrigation and hydropower development. The total watershed of the rivers covers an area of 191,000 km2, of which 74 % lies within Nepal. Depending upon the source and discharge, they are used for various purposes, i.e. irrigation, hydropower, drinking and other economic purposes. From this perspective, watersheds and aquatic ecosystems have an indispensable role to play in the sustainable development of these sectors.
The condition of watersheds and aquatic ecosystems has been deteriorating due to the mismanagement and over-exploitation of natural resources. In addition, increased interventions due to growing population have induced human-made disasters and accelerated the process of natural disasters. According to an inventory of watershed condition, it is estimated that 7% of the land area, about 10,000 km2, is devoid of vegetation, 17% of the land needs immediate conservation attention, and many of the watersheds are in a state of desertification due to physical and biological factors. The district-wise status shows that the most affected are the hilly districts. Similarly, aquatic resources are also in threatened conditions due to encroachment, periodic flash floods, pesticides and chemical pollution, landslides and erosion, water pollution and deforestation. The construction of dams has also affected the normal aquatic life. The declining aquatic drying of wetland and declining aquatic diversity are the major threats to the aquatic ecosystem.
Although efforts are being made to manage the watersheds and aquatic ecosystems, much still needs to be done to fully cope with the problem. Lack of strong institutional mechanism has hampered program replication. Similarly, lack of data and mapping has hampered updating of programs. Focus of water development programs only on water-based infrastructures has shadowed the environmental concerns, and lack of coordination between water-based infrastructure and watershed management has created a gap in watershed and aquatic ecosystem management at project level. Therefore, environmental action plans on sustainable management of watersheds and aquatic ecosystems have been developed to minimize the environmental problems, fulfill the gaps and maximize the benefits from the environmental conservation for the development of the water sector plan.
The overall environmental targets are as follows:
  • by 2007 a management plan for nationally important watershed and aquatic system is prepared and initiated.
  • by 2007 water quality and wastewater quality standards are developed and enforced.
  • by 2017 full-scale environmental protection and management projects are implemented in all priority watershed and aquatic ecosystems.
  • by 2017 stakeholders are participating in environmental protection and management.
  • by 2027 quality of watersheds is increased by 80% in all regions.
  • by 2027 adequate water quality for aquatic habitat, including fish, human consumption and recreation is insured in all rivers and lakes.


Action Programs
Action programs have been developed based on the ten broad headings identified by the Water Resource Strategy. Altogether forty-four action programs have been finalized under nine broad headings of major activities following consultations at various regional, central and expert panel workshops. Effective implementation of these recommended actions will definitely meet the objectives of the water related environment sector, thus finally meeting the objectives of the National Water Plan within the projected time. The implementation of the Environmental Action Plan will coincide with the Tenth Plan (2003-2008), then it will follow the subsequent Five Year Plan and other water-related environment plans. The major program activities and actions are as follows:
1. Improve Environmental Database System:
  1. Establish an information and meta data center on water resource-related environment at WEC.
  2. Establish meteorological and hydrological database in priority watershed systems.
  3. Prepare an inventory of aquatic systems.
  4. Prepare pollution status data of river, streams, ponds, lakes and ground water.
  5. Develop nationwide ground water monitoring system.
  6. Collect biophysical and socio-economic information on watersheds and aquatic systems.
  7. Compile indigenous knowledge and skills on watersheds and aquatic systems.
2. Map Important, Critical and Priority Watersheds and Aquatic Systems:
  1. Prepare land use map of important, critical and priority watersheds, aquatic ecosystems, pasture and the Siwaliks/Churia range.
  2. Identify important, critical and prioritized watersheds and aquatic ecosystems base on the latest land use map.
  3. Develop high-resolution maps of important, critical and prioritized watersheds and aquatic ecosystems, pasturelands and Siwaliks/Churia.
  4. Prepare erosion hazard map.
  5. repare hydro and meteorological maps.
  6. Update maps on regular basis
3. Develop Water and Wastewater Quality Standards and Regulations:
  1. Develop water quality standards/guidelines for irrigation, drinking and recreational purposes.
  2. Set up water quality standards/guidelines for ecosystems maintenance.
  3. Develop standards/guidelines for the discharge of municipal and industrial wastewater.
  4. Establish minimum in-stream and outflow in important aquatic ecosystems.