HERMANA: improving water resources management in the Valle del Cauca Colombia

Published: 11 July 2019

The Valle del Cauca, in the western part of Colombia, is the country’s third-largest economy. The valley does have a lot of surface water and groundwater available, but sustainable use of these water resources is frequently under strain. Sugar cane is an important source of income. It is also a crop type that is heavily water dependent. On July 10th, HERMANA, a new tool to enable sustainable water resources management for the Valle del Cauca was launched.

Improves communication on decisions made

The local governmental organisation, Regional Autonomous Corporation of Valle del Cauca (CVC), is responsible for water management in the area. They emit daily and monthly bulletins regarding water demand and availability, authorise permits for water use, participate in the monthly planning of water levels in an upstream reservoir, and communicate with a number of other stakeholders in the area. Their work is in part comparable with that of the waterboards in the Netherlands.

Data and information about water resources is of course available at CVC, but it is diffuse. They recognized the need for an integrated system to support decision-making in a clear, transparent manner, enabling them to reproduce the process when needed. A tool for making decisions as well as providing indicators to improve efficient water use will make communication about decisions easier. The tool was officialy launched July 10, 2019

Delft FEWS-Colombia system

CVC uses the Delft FEWS-Colombia system combined with drought indicators from Future Water’s InfoSequía drought indicator tool (based on satellite data) and HydroLogic’s HydroNET hydrological system to transform CVC’s data and knowledge into dashboards. This produces useable information for decision makers and specific users. Since the FEWS-Colombia system is operational nationwide, and the InfoSequia is global, it is possible to make similar dashboards for other Colombian areas as well. However, this was not in the scope of this particular project.

differtent systems in use for HERMANA

Related to decision tools of the Dutch Water Authorities

HERMANA (meaning sister in Spanish), an abbreviation for HERramienta para el MANejo integral del Agua, is based on the real-time decision support tools used by the Dutch Water Authorities. At CVC, it has been tailor-made by experts in surface water, groundwater, decision support systems, water management, and governance both from the Netherlands as well as from Colombia. We appreciate the support and cooperation of the Technical Directorate of Environment from CVC as well as staff from other Directorates who have participated in the HERMANA process thus far.

This work was financially supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) through a “Partners for Water” grant, by the Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC), and by in-kind contributions from Deltares, HydroLogic, FutureWater, and the Dutch Water Authorities. The operational testing and implementation of InfoSequía into HERMANA has been partially funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 700699.

The paper about this project is going to be included in the book of proceedings of the IAHR world congress 2019