Evaluation of water resources, planning and design of water infrastructure and water management requires both temporal and spatial water data such as rainfall, streamflow, water quality, water use, water storage, and groundwater level data. Apart from that when considering stakeholder requirements, data requirement expands to, census data, geographic maps of physical and administrative boundaries, water and other infrastructure data such as location of industries, garbage dumps, culverts, reservoirs, water supply reservoirs, etc. Water allocation also requires attribute data such as regulations, thresholds, norms, prizes, rates etc. When carrying out water research for sustainability, a researcher needs to collect a significant amount of data from various sources and the most common grievance by the students is the significant time taken to access by physically visiting data collection agencies, and then exorbitant costs that need to be incurred when acquiring for research for reputed journal publications.
The present climate change factor which compels a student to consider non stationarity of physical phenomenon requires to consider at least the base period of 30 years plus another 30 years of data for meaningful statements.
It is important for the policy makers and the public servants who have gone through the same difficulty during their student days to seriously consider the time issues and the funding issues that is in front of a student and the supervisor. When the data access is limited most studies become forerunners only. However often these studies are quoted and used by the decision makers for their practice without understanding the embedded boomerang effect.
UMCSAWM has taken numerous steps to overcome this problem. First the most expensive method is to purchase the data for some research, second is the collection of authentic experimental data with the installation of field experimental stations, the third is to establish and install a state of the art meteorological and water level data collection station and the last but not least is to provide order of magnitude solutions for data scarce situations.
The UMCSAWM Master’s degree research as part of the guidelines ensures the adequacy of data for the recommendations given by the study. The problem based learning projects are very good demonstrations of handling water infrastructure planning in data scarce situations.
Even so, for the benefit of the country as a whole, and to promote water research for sustainability of the environment in a broader perspective, it is necessary to have a data policy for water research. Since water data are collected with public money, the officials who process the data are paid by state coffers and the equipment used for data collection and processing are from the taxpayer money, it is nothing but fare to make water data available at cost of duplication.
Also it is important to take a policy decision to compel the water data collection agencies, to use a “quality flag” for the data that is collected and processed prior to fixing a price tag that is reachable by an enthusiastic water researcher.
In this connection the Government of India’s information policy has demonstrated many good examples for water research. UMCSAWM with these regional experiences intends to take a lead role in finding a long term solution for the data issue.