RIBASIM – River Basin Planning and Management

An integrated approach to the water system and its surroundings is the basis for long-term, sustainable management of environment. Multi sector planning to allocate scarce resources at the river basin level is increasingly needed in the water sector, as water users and governmental agencies become more aware of the trade-offs occurring between quantity, quality, costs and reliability. The RIBASIM (RIver BAsin SIMulation) model package provides an effective tool to support the process of planning and resource analysis. Since the first developments started in 1985 RIBASIM has been applied in a large number of countries world-wide and is used by a wide range of national and regional agencies.

RIBASIM (River Basin Simulation Model) is a generic model package for analyzing the behaviour of river basins under various hydrological conditions. The model package is a comprehensive and flexible tool which links the hydrological water inputs at various locations with the specific water-users in the basin.

RIBASIM enables the user to evaluate a variety of measures related to infrastructure, operational and demand management and the results in terms of water quantity and water quality. RIBASIM generates water distribution patterns and provides a basis for detailed water quality and sedimentation analyses in river reaches and reservoirs. It provides a source analysis, giving insight in the water’s origin at any location of the basin. RIBASIM follows a structured approach to river basin planning and management.

RIBASIM is a modelling instrument for river basin planning and management. It has a set of outstanding features which make it a state of the art river basin simulation package. The model has been applied for more than 30 years in a large number of countries and in a wide variety of projects. Water management organizations world-wide use it to support their management and planning activities. Large and complex river basins have been modelled and simulated with RIBASIM. Separately modelled sub-basins can be combined into one main-basin.

RIBASIM has a link with the rainfall-runoff model wflow, the groundwater flow model SEAWAT and the detailed water quality process model DELWAQ. An online link with the groundwater flow model iMOD/Modflow is in progress (2018). Further, RIBASIM is used in an operational water demand and allocation environment using the Delft-FEWS software.

Field of application

RIBASIM is designed for any analysis which requires the water balance of a basin to be simulated. The resulting water balance provides the basic information on the available quantity of water as well as the composition of the flow at every location and any time in the river basin. RIBASIM provides the means to prepare such balances in required detail, taking into account drainage from agriculture, discharges from industry and the downstream re-use of water. A number of basin performance parameters are generated for evaluation of the simulated situations.

User interface

The structure of RIBASIM is based on an integrated framework with a user-friendly, graphically, GIS-oriented interface. Working with RIBASIM means applying a structured approach to river basin planning and management. This structured approach forms the basis for the working environment. The working environment provides:

  • guidance of the user at the design, calculation (simulation) and the analysis phase
  • GIS environment for the interactive preparation of the basin schematization, the entry of object attributes data and the evaluation of simulation results.


Typical applications

RIBASIM can be used for basin planning and management:

  • Long-term basin planning: the preparation of long and mid-term basin plans e.g. with a time horizon of 10 to 25 years. All kind of measures (technical, operational and institutional) can be analysed with RIBASIM. Questions to be answered are for example: to what extent is development possible? What potential conflicts among users may arise and what are the impacts of various development alternatives
  • Short term (half or one year) water allocation scheduling: preparation of a seasonal operation plan for the basin. RIBASIM can be used to determine e.g. a crop plan based on reservoir storage and expected inflows.
  • In-season operation scheduling: during the season based on the actual situation in the field, the actual rainfall and the updated forecasts an updated water allocation schedule can be determined for the coming weeks or months. Questions that can be answered are for example: what is the water allocation to users in case of water scarcity? What is the impact of specific management options?



For those who like to have some training in the use of the RIBASIM software and / or the concepts of river basin planning, Deltares can provide dedicated class-room training courses varying from a few days till a few weeks in-house or at the client’s home office. Quick Start guide and video training material are provided with the software for starting users. Various universities and institutes include RIBASIM in their regular curriculum e.g IHE Delft, the Netherlands : www.un-ihe.org.

Regularly the RIBASIM software is applied in a cooperation project between Deltares and a river basin authority, a governmental ministry or a local consultant. In this case the client’s staff is introduced in the RIBASIM software by a 3-5 days intro training followed by on-the-job training. During this on-the-job training the local staff is carrying out a planning study for one of their own basins supported and guided by the Deltares professional staff.

Training Orissa India