Indus River System Model (IRSM) - a planning tool to explore water management options in Pakistan: model conceptualisation, onfiguration and calibration.

Select | Print

Stewart, Joel; Podger, Geoff; Ahmad, Mobin ORCID ID icon; Shah, Syed Mehr Ali; Bodla, Habib; Khero, Zarif; Rana, Muhammad Khalid Idrees




The 2012 report from the Water Sector Task Force (WSTF) of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) highlighted five solutions to the water resources challenges faced by Pakistan. One of these solutions was to build knowledge and capacity with a specific focus on Australian water management culture and software tools. In response to the WSTF-FoDP Report, the Australian Government engaged the CSIRO to contribute to the task of building capacity and sharing the Australian water management culture with Pakistan. This task has primarily been undertaken through the development of a river system simulation model of the Indus River System. The aspirational aim of this model is to provide a standalone tool for national and provincial water management agencies to simulate planning and seasonal operational decisions on the Indus River. Through this simulation tool, the consequences of decisions regarding river management, infrastructure investment, agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability may be investigated, enhancing the decision-making capacity of water management agencies in Pakistan. This Report presents the MoWR-CSIRO Indus River System Model (IRSM) that is built using the eWater Source modelling framework. The IRSM represents the Pakistan Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS) by describing both the physical and water sharing systems on a daily time step. The physical system is described by a complex node-link network that commences at rim stations and includes 2 major supply reservoirs (Tarbela and Mangla), Ghazi-Botha scheme, 16 barrages (including Chashma), 14 main link canals and 73 irrigation supply canals and associated irrigation demands and ends below Kotri barrage. The model accounts for major supply reservoir sedimentation over time, flow routing and distribution losses. The model also considers energy generation at Tarbela, Mangla, Ghazi-Botha scheme and hydro capable barrages. The model simulates the water flow, use and operations of the Indus River system, including the mechanisms though which seasonal water allocations are planned, shared and delivered. The model simulates the water allocation and distribution system in the same manner that it is currently undertaken in Pakistan. Seasonal flow forecasts are generated by the model which are used to generate seasonal operational rules for major infrastructure. Seasonal water allocation to the provinces is then undertaken in accordance with the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord. The model also simulates the flow of water through all major rivers, dams, barrages and canals to distribute water to canal commands areas so that it can be used for irrigation. Crop demands are simulated in the model considering surface water delivery constraints and where appropriated a groundwater component is also considered in the model to supplement surface water supplies. Model results for the period 2002-2012 match simulated seasonal inflow forecasts with historic forecasts resulting in provincial allocations that replicate historic water sharing and associated deliveries. The model replicates historic provincial entitlements reasonably well in terms of daily pattern of allocations and overall cumulative volume (2% volumetric error for combined Punjab and Sindh allocations vs withdrawals), the average annual maximum volume error as a proportion of mean annual inflow for Tarbela, Mangla and combined storage is respectively within 14, 7 and 4% and daily flow nash-sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) correlations at major barrages exceeds 0.7. Noting that Sukkur Barrage has an NSE of 0.6. Based on this performance, the model may now be used to investigate current and future water management decisions by Pakistan water management agencies. This could include investigating the potential impacts of climate change and infrastructure development on future water availability and the associated impacts on provincial sharing.

CSIRO Land & Water


SDIP, Indus, water allocation, water distribution, irrigation, water management, river system, modelling, basin planning, basin management, Pakistan

Water Resources Engineering

Published Version (pdf) (13.79MB)

This report has been placed on the CSIRO repository and may be made available to persons outside of CSIRO for non commercial purposes, in its entirety and without deletion of disclaimers and copyright information.

Funding Body NameProject/Grant ID
Australia. Department of Foreign Affairs and TradeR-09202


Technical Report (Author)


Stewart, Joel; Podger, Geoff; Ahmad, Mobin; Shah, Syed Mehr Ali; Bodla, Habib; Khero, Zarif; Rana, Muhammad Khalid Idrees. Indus River System Model (IRSM) - a planning tool to explore water management options in Pakistan: model conceptualisation, onfiguration and calibration.. Australia: CSIRO Land & Water; 2018. csiro:EP186945.

Loading citation data...

Citation counts
(Requires subscription to view)