IUCN Guidelines to Avoid Impacts of Water Resources Projects on Dams and Other Water Infrastructure

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1 IUCN Guidelines to Avoid Impacts of Water Resources Projects on Dams and Other Water Infrastructure (December 2013) IUCN does not engage in projects which involve the design, construction or rehabilitation of new or existing dams and other hydraulic infrastructure. However, for specific IUCN water resources projects, it may need to identify potential impacts on dams, particularly the safety of dams, and other water infrastructure such as reservoirs, irrigation systems, levees and canals. IUCN water resources projects may have impacts on the condition and safety of dams and other water infrastructure, for example in: watershed management activities, to improve the sustainability and equity of water, land and ecosystem management upstream of dams; this may change flows to dams with implications on how a dam is operated, and therefore possibly on the safety of the dam; river and wetland restoration, to remediate or mitigate the downstream environmental and social impacts of a dam; this may include changes in the operating rules for a dam; artificial flood regimes, to restore eco-systems and associated livelihoods in downstream floodplains through changes in dam operations. IUCN recognises that avoiding all projects that involve or have impacts on existing dams and water infrastructure or require new water infrastructure could prevent the implementation of important conservation and environmental projects. IUCN also recognises the principle of continuous improvement advocated by the World Conservation Congress (2012 World Conservation Congress Resolution 5.089, Dams and Hydraulic Infrastructure) and is committed to achieving it, including taking opportunities for implementing and demonstrating good conservation practices around water infrastructure. These guidelines show project designers how to take into account the potential impacts and assess adequate and feasible mitigation measures to avoid the impacts on the operation and safety of dams and water infrastructure that may potentially be affected by IUCN projects. In order to avoid progressing IUCN water resources projects that may have impacts on dams and other water infrastructure, any such impact must be identified, and if it cannot be mitigated, be eliminated from further consideration. Investigations to identify impacts will be carried out during the IUCN project concept stage. A final check will be made during the project appraisal. If it has been decided that projects may proceed with limited effects on water infrastructure, monitoring of the impacts will be required during the implementation stage. The procedure for projects which may impact on dams and water infrastructure is as follows: 1

2 Project Concept Stage Application of Environmental and Social Impact screening (including inpart 5: Dams and water infrastructure, impacts and needs). Project Proposal Appraisal Stage Application of the full Environmental and Social Management System (including the process set out under Component 7: Dams and water infrastructure). Project Implementation Stage Where monitoring of any potentially affected infrastructure will be required. These guidelines first explain the four phases of the IUCN approach to identify any impacts on dams and water infrastructure and, if there will be impacts, whether to abandon the proposed project(s) or, depending on the importance of the benefits to conservation and the environment of the proposed project(s), to investigate further to assess if the project could proceed with mitigation of the impacts, or in some cases, in partnership with other agencies experienced in dam and water infrastructure projects. Following the identification and preliminary selection of projects, the guidelines give examples of impacts and mitigation. They then deal with the more detailed development of the project concepts to prepare them for review and scrutiny by the IUCN Environmental and Social Management System, including public consultation. They conclude on the preparation of reports on proposed projects tasks and expertise required of dam and water infrastructure specialists that may be recruited to ensure avoidance, and/or mitigation of impacts during the project preparation phase. The costs for this would be included in the project preparation phase. The four phases of identifying whether IUCN water resources projects will have impacts on dams or water infrastructure are as follows: Phase 1: Identifying Impacts IUCN working with the promoters of the project will prepare field plans of the extent of the proposed project, and make field inspections if necessary, consult with local and regional communities, as appropriate, including local people, local government, utility providers, local libraries and maps and other data sources, electronic and paper, to ascertain whether the proposed project does have any impacts on existing (or planned) water infrastructure. They will report giving their views and reasoning on any impacts of the proposed project from which further action can be determined, as follows: If they are confident that there are no impacts and report accordingly to the satisfaction of IUCN, the project will proceed without further recourse to these guidelines. If there are doubts about impacts on existing or proposed future infrastructure, or if the project will necessitate implementation of elements of such infrastructure 1, the project proceeds to Phase 2. 1 Some IUCN projects, such as artificial flood regimes and wetlands restoration may require modifications to existing water infrastructure or construction of new small scale supporting infrastructure as part of water flow management improvements, for example. 2

3 Phase 2: Confirming Impacts IUCN with project promoters as necessary will review the findings of Phase 1, particularly the elements on which there were doubts, carry out more detailed consultations, investigations or surveys as necessary, and report with conclusions and recommendations, as follows: If the report confirms there are no impacts, the project will proceed without further recourse to these guidelines. If the report concludes that there may be impacts, the project proceeds to Phase 3. Phase 3: Abandon, Mitigate, or Consider with Approved and Experienced Partners IUCN, with advice from independent specialist consultants as necessary, with guidance and subject to review by further international experts if appropriate, assisted by the project promoters, will investigate the extent of mitigation, interaction with water infrastructure owners, and water infrastructure development that implementation of the project may require. They will then assess whether the benefits to conservation will be commensurate with or exceed the impacts. An iterative approach may be necessary to examine the effectiveness of projects of varying scope. A report on the investigations will be prepared during the project preparation phase, with conclusions and recommendations as follows: If the impacts plainly exceed the benefits, the project will not proceed further. If the project can be modified so as to avoid any impacts on water infrastructure, and still provide adequate benefits, the project will proceed without further recourse to these guidelines. If with moderate amounts of mitigation, predominantly in conservation work with only a limited extent in modifications to, or construction of, water infrastructure, the project benefits exceed the impacts, the project will proceed in accordance with these guidelines. If a project would still provide substantial conservation benefits, but requires major modification or development of water infrastructure, the project would always proceed to Phase 4. Phase 4: Entrust Projects Requiring Infrastructure to Other Agencies Experienced in Dams and Water Infrastructure IUCN will entrust any projects with substantial benefits predominantly in conservation - but which necessitate substantial amounts of work on water infrastructure (and may also deliver important social and economic benefits), solely to agencies experienced in dam and water infrastructure, such as the World Bank. IUCN will not get involved in projects which require infrastructure development and adjustments. Potential Impacts of IUCN Projects on Dams and Water Infrastructure Projects Upstream of Dams Projects in the catchment around reservoirs, re-forestation for example, may cause instability of slopes, which can in extreme cases threaten the safety of the dam. In response to this impact, following the procedures above, IUCN could decide not to proceed, or decide to proceed by applying advice from a slope stability specialist. 3

4 Re-forestation may reduce water run-off into the reservoir, thereby reducing yield, the amount of water available from the reservoir. This may necessitate enlarging the storage to restore the yield to the pre-project situation. However, the re-forestation would probably reduce sediment run-off into the reservoir, thereby prolonging its useful life of the reservoir. It would also improve water quality. In response to these impacts and the possible need to raise the dam to provide more storage, following the procedures above, IUCN could decide not to proceed or, because of the commercial trade-offs between enlarged storage by raising the dam and less loss of storage because of reduced sediment loads, and the possibility of dam construction, decide to promote the project for sole implementation by other agencies experienced in dams and water infrastructure. Other upstream projects, to replace forest with other vegetation, for example, may increase water run-off and sediment run-off, reducing storage, and thereby reducing the useful life of the reservoir. This may necessitate providing silt outlets to flush some of the excess sediment from the reservoir. Such projects may increase extreme flood volumes and peaks, thereby effectively reducing the overflow spillway capacity, and increasing the risk of failure of the dam and the probability of causing fatalities and damage in downstream communities. If the sediment issue was shown to be serious, IUCN would decide not to proceed. However, release of silt from reservoirs has benefits downstream, and this could be a project best implemented solely by other agencies experienced in dams and water infrastructure. Projects Downstream of Dams Many projects downstream of dams require additional discharges from the reservoir, consequently steps to maintain pre-project yield for present purposes may be required. This may entail increasing the height of the dam and providing additional outlets. Unless downstream projects can be shown not to need additional flows from the reservoir, IUCN would abandon such projects. If projects making changes to the river profiles to restore more natural flow regimes and accommodate flood flushes can be accomplished without necessitating alterations to dams and water infrastructure, IUCN would proceed. For any projects that may increase the width and depth of the dambreak flood wave, thereby inadvertently reducing the safety standards by increasing fatalities and the extent of damage if a dam failed, IUCN would not proceed. Assessing Impacts on Dams and Water Infrastructure Expert assistance and advice may be needed, depending on the nature and complexity of the project: to assess impacts on dams and water infrastructure, with particular attention to the safety of dams and the safety of people living in the floodways downstream of dams, to develop a mitigation and monitoring plan, including accumulating information for agreement by negotiation with infrastructure owners, and proposals for physical mitigation works, to demonstrate to all involved that IUCN speaks with the authority it carries as the world s largest global conservation network, with the ability to provide expert assistance and advice on a variety of subjects through its own offices, its scientific Commissions, and through its network of skilled professionals. 4

5 Potential changes in water run-off and the ability of the existing reservoir to provide additional water will need to be determined by hydrological studies, with a particular emphasis on yield studies and the effects of changed vegetation cover on run-off. Sediment studies may be required to assess the effects of changed vegetation on run-off. These will complement the hydrological studies, as well providing data to assess reservoir life and whether flushing is feasible. Geomorphological and geotechnical studies should be made if elements of the project are sited on slopes around the reservoir and whether they are stable or not. Environmental hydraulics and river morphology studies will be needed to investigate and design downstream channels suitable for environmental flows, flood flushes and supplying water to wetlands. Modelling of dambreak floods along the river valley downstream of the dam in both the pre- and post-project situation will be required to confirm that the postsituation does not threaten more lives than the pre-situation. Dam engineering studies will be needed to investigate means of providing extra storage and additional outlets and changed operating regimes, if the other studies show them to be necessary. Dam safety specialists will be needed to advise on safety aspects to maintain safety standards throughout the implementation stage and after implementation to at least those that were in place before the project. Each study will be individually reported, for use in developing the Mitigation of Impacts on Dams and Water Infrastructure including a Monitoring Plan during future development phases and possible implementation of the project. The study reports will be made available for public consultation, and individual specialists will participate in consultation meetings as required. Mitigation Where aspects of proposed projects would threaten the safety of the dam and involve works in dams, IUCN would not proceed with the projects. Some aspects of projects, dam-raising, for example, fall into this category. Assuming that sufficient outlet capacity is available, IUCN projects of this type could only proceed if by negotiation or compensation, the dam owner agrees to give up part of the yield from the reservoir. Reporting Draft reports, using the assessment study reports where necessary, and the development, where applicable, of the summary report on the Mitigation of Impacts on Dams and Water Infrastructure including Monitoring Plan will be prepared, giving technical and cost proposals for the project. Such reports will be developed at (i) the project concept stage will determine initial impacts and what further studies will be required, (ii) during the project proposal (preparation) stage where detailed studies will be performed as necessary, and (iii) at the commencement of project implementation. Draft reports would be reviewed, as outlined below. Reviews 5

6 An expert review panel contracted by IUCN will be appointed to give guidance on and review Phase 3 investigations and any projects involving dams or water infrastructure that follow from the Phase 3 investigations to Phase 4. If these include projects impacting on or making alterations to dams, the review panel will give particular attention to the safety of the dams and the safety of people and property in the floodways downstream of the dams, in accordance with the World Bank Operational Protocol 4.37 (Safety of Dams), and clauses 7.1 to 7.6 of GEF Minimum Standard 7: Safety of Dams. The review panel will provide guidance and reviews at all ensuing stages of the project, including concept stage, design and appraisal stage, during implementation and postimplementation until satisfied that the project is performing satisfactorily and has no negative impacts on the water infrastructure or the safety of any dams involved. The schedule for reviews will be fully developed during the project design phase. For Phase 4 projects, those that will be developed solely by other Agencies experienced in dam and water infrastructure projects, IUCN will not be involved in these projects. The required skills and capacities from experts will be defined during the project design phase, and they will be selected in general accordance with World Bank guidance OP 4.37 Safety of Dams, and clauses 7.1 to 7.6 of the GEF Minimum Standard 7: Safety of Dams, with further advice from the technical committees of appropriate international bodies as listed below. Final Reporting The final reports, as agreed after review, will be openly available to the public, in accordance with the IUCN policy on Public Consultation and Disclosure of Information. Project Concept The project next goes forward for formal consideration. Potential environmental and social impacts are identified and used to define the need for subsequent social and environmental assessment, the issues to be covered and the level of detail in the resulting Environmental and Social Impacts Assessment (ESIA). IUCN Environmental and Social Management System Agreed final proposals are then subject to the IUCN ESMS process, of assessment of impacts (ESIA) and public consultation. At all stages, the IUCN Accountability and Grievance Policy will apply. Appraisal and Management of Environmental and Social Impacts The Project Appraisal confirms that environmental and social impacts have been considered and a management plan is in place. It also confirms that stakeholders have been consulted, including the application of the principle of free prior and informed consent, if indigenous peoples or other vulnerable or affected groups are involved. Appointment of Engineers, Specialists and Contractors IUCM might consider the selection of engineers and other specialists on projects impacting on dams and water infrastructure. The selections will be made in general accordance with World Bank guidance OP4.37 Safety of Dams and clauses 7.1 to 7.6 of the GEF Minimum Standard 7: Safety of Dams. 6

7 IUCN may take further advice on selection of properly qualified and experienced persons from the technical committees of appropriate international bodies of similar international standing to IUCN such as IAHS (International Association of Hydrological Sciences), IAHR (International Association on Hydro-environment Engineering and Research), ISSMGE (International Society on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering), ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams), IHA (International Hydropower Association), and ICID (International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage). 7

8 Annex 1: Outline of project action plans for water resources projects involving impacts on dams and other water infrastructure Introduction Description of water resources project Impacts on or involvement in dams and other water infrastructure Actions taken to limit negative impacts Results of early consultations with stakeholders Socio-economic background Conservation and environmental benefits of project Identification of affected communities Identification of beneficiaries Social and economic benefits of project Action Plan Identification and development of project Identification of impacts on dams and other water infrastructure Identification of, and consultation with, stakeholders and affected communities Identify and mitigate impacts on local communities Priority on maintaining safety of local communities from dam failures Involve local communities, protect lives and livelihoods, develop opportunities for technology transfer Identify mitigation possibilities, nature-friendly approaches, co-operation with local communities, community-based solutions, minimising built solutions Decision-making, with advice from specialists as necessary, on whether to proceed with project, adjust project design and approach, or abandon the project design, and where applicable, hand the project over to an Agency with the necessary skills. At this final stage, IUCN would not be further involved in the project design Prepare project description and reports for public consultation at project concept stage Re-consider and modify project proposals, if necessary, following consultation Develop more detailed proposals for ESMS, project appraisal stage, consultations and approval Implementation schedule and work plan Project implementation plan Develop implementation plan, including means of implementation, local communities Develop alternative sequences of implementation to suit available skills, seasons, etc Assess overall period for implementation Budget, procurement and financial arrangements Develop detailed estimates and cash flow forecast Develop effective procurement and contractual approaches as necessary Financing arrangements Monitoring of project performance Identify environmental, social and economic parameters and indicators for monitoring Complete pre-implementation baseline surveys Complete post-implementation surveys 8

9 Compare pre- and post- environmental, social and economic status of project area and communities Report and disseminate results to provide basis for assessment of the effectiveness of the project (and similar future projects) in achieving the objective of continuous improvement 9

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