Water. It’s one of our key resources. After all, we project managers, like most humans, are mostly water. Yes, it’s true that some stakeholders are made from sugar and spice and everything nice, and some of snakes and snails and puppy-dog tails, but that’s a post for another day.
Something recently came to our attention which we think is exceedingly newsworthy. It’s in two parts, so you’ll have to be a bit patient – but given that we’re at the start of the new year, and one of your resolutions was to be patient…. you can do it…
The first part is actually a few months old and it has to do with the IDB – the Inter-American Development Bank, and, basically it is about a new app and software suite that helps deal with preserving water. And…well, we’ll let them tell you about it:
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) provides substantial financial and technical support for infrastructure projects in water and sanitation, irrigation, flood control, transportation and energy. Many of these projects depend upon water resources and have a significant potential of being negatively affected by local and regional changes in development variables that alter water availability, such as climate, population growth and shifts in land use associated with urbanization, industrial growth and agriculture. Assessing the potential for future changes in water availability is an important step for ensuring that infrastructure projects meet their operational, financial and economic goals. It is also important to examine the implications of such projects for the future allocation of available water among competing users and uses, to anticipate and help mitigate potential conflict, thus enabling such projects to be consistent with long-term regional development plans and preservation of essential ecosystem services.
The IDB has sponsored work to develop and apply an integrated suite of water resources
modeling tools, collectively referred to as Hydro-BID. The Hydro-BID modeling system includes hydrologic analysis modules to estimate the availability (volumes and fluxes) of freshwater at the regional, basin and sub-basin scales. The Hydro-BID system currently includes:
- an Analytical Hydrography Dataset (AHD) representing over 230,000 catchments in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region and their corresponding topography, river and stream segments;
- a GIS-based navigation tool to browse AHD catchments and streams with the capability of navigating upstream and downstream;
- a user interface for specifying the area and time period to be modeled and the location at which water availability will be modeled;
- a climate data interface to obtain rainfall and temperature inputs for the area and period of interest;
- a rainfall-run-off model based on the Generalized Watershed Loading Factor formulation;
- a routing scheme for quantifying time of travel and cumulative flow estimates across
Hydro-BID generates output in the form of a time series (with a choice of time interval, e.g., hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) of changes in water storage and flow rates for the selected basins and time period. A case study addressing water allocation issues in the Rio Grande basin in Argentina as an illustration of the simulation modeling system’s inputs, operation and outputs was finalized recently. The initial version of Hydro-BID has been received enthusiastically in presentations to potential users and constituents in the IDB and to outside technical audiences via conferences and workshops, and there are several requests for parameterization of the model and practical applications from strategic Bank clients within the Water Resources Sector in LAC (e.g., in Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and Perú).
In this next phase of development of Hydro-BID, it will also include economic analysis and
decision support tools to estimate the costs and benefits of adaptive measures and help decision makers (including project managers!) make informed choices among alternative designs for infrastructure projects and alternative policies for water resources management.
Here’s a video that shows how it works.
The second part is the really meaningful part to us. And that is that the story about this software showed up in a segment of the most recent PMNetwork magazine. And the way it was presented makes the exact point that we’ve been trying to make for the past 6 years: project managers need to see a bigger picture, and to do that, sometimes need to be given tools to help them do that. Here is the key quote:
The Inter-American Development Bank and PepsiCo have partnered on a product development project to help communities and organizations better understand how proposed projects could affect freshwater supplies. The resulting water-resource data-management and modeling tool, called Hydro-BID, allows project practitioners
and planners to generate water availability projections based on variables ranging from population to rainfall to land-use scenarios.
It may not seem like much, but it’s huge. Why?
- It involves a large multinational company, PepsiCo, buying into the fact that it should care about sustainability issues
- It shows good cooperation between NGOs, companies, and government
- And most importantly, it recognizes that projects’ products are not only the immediate product but the product considered for the steady-state, for the long term, within its environment. It supports the idea that project success is not the same as project management success. Success is the project’s product delivering its outcome and realizing benefits for the longer term, benefits which align with the enterprise’s stated mission, vision, and values.
This is what our upcoming book – Sustainability in Projects, Programs, and Portfolios – Realizing Enterprise Benefits and Goals – will cover. More than coverage, it will actually provide an assessment tool (the Sustainability Wheel(TM) which will allow you to see how well this type of thinking and action is already embedded in your organization and will provide coaching on how to improve in this area.
But for the meantime, we’re happy to see stories like this appearing in PMNetwork.
We hope it is part of a cascade of improvements in this major gap area for project managers and our discipline of project management. A wave of sustainability thinking!