Performance Indicators in the Water Resources Management Sector

  • Balázs M. Fekete
  • Eugene Z. Stakhiv
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


Governance, i.e., the institutional administrative component of water resources management, in particular and natural resources management in general, is an increasingly complex endeavor that forms the basis of integrated water resources management. Hence, it is very difficult to assess the performance of numerous adopted policy decisions and regulations that guide future water management adjustments. A myriad of interconnected aspirational goals, embedded within various well-intentioned UN Declarations, address desired water resources management improvements (efficiency, productivity) as a mechanism to support a wide variety of economic, social, ecological and cultural objectives. A wide array of performance indicators has been developed to track the relative effectiveness of these policies on water use productivity and efficiency. Any useful water resources management performance index must start with an accurate specification of available resources at various water resources management accounting level (country, region, river basins, etc.). Traditionally, water resources accounting was carried out via statistical surveys (e.g., FAO-AQUASTATS). A major step forward is deploying high resolution hydrological data assimilation along with geographical information systems to develop water resources assessment and link those data to spatially distributed socio-economic information.It is difficult enough to accurately describe the core state variables of a water management system, such as annual renewable water resources at national and river basin scales. The complexity and uncertainty magnifies when these state variables are used in composite indices to assess the performance of a diverse assortment of water related investments, or the relative effectiveness of institutional reforms on various components of the water sector (irrigation, water supply, hydropower, etc.). Single indicators are clearly inadequate to guide different aspects of the water management. Composite indices, such as the Water Poverty Index (WPI) or the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), which combine aspirational goals with state variables, skew the evaluation outcomes. Furthermore, indices applied uniformly to regions or countries with vastly different hydro-climatological, geographical and socio-economical conditions are prone to lead to misleading comparison.This chapter offers an overview of some of the indicator systems used in the past and discusses some of the challenges in producing resources management indicators. The paper outlines a conceptual framework for indicators that are suitable to guide both water management planning and evaluation of the implementations.


Water Resource Management Water Sector Water Security Governance Indicator Environmental Sustainability Index 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringThe City College of New York, CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative, CUNY CREST Institute, City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.UNESCO International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM), Department of Geography and Environmental EngineeringJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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