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INCA Flow and Water Quality Modelling study in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna River systems

Prof Paul Whitehead has undertaken an extensive INCA Flow and Water Quality Modelling study in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna River systems to investigate the impacts of climate change on river discharge, nitrate, ammonia and phosphorus into the future. 

This is the most complex INCA modelling study that has been attempted and results suggest increased monsoon flows and some reduced dry weather flows, or with extended drought periods. Plus nutrient concentrations would fall due to the extra dilution effects in monsoon periods. The effects of socio-economic change has also been investigated to evaluate the Ganges clean-up plan and to study the impacts of proposed water transfers upstream of Bangladesh. 

The clean-up plan if implemented would improve the water quality reducing nutrient loads entering Bangladesh. The water transfers would have a major effect, if implemented in full, significantly reducing flows into the delta system and the Bay of Bengal.

Download the Presentation

Download the Published Papers:

Impacts of climate change and socio-economic scenarios on flow and water quality of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna (GBM) river systems: low flow and flood statistics. P. G. Whitehead et al.

Dynamic modeling of the Ganga river system: impacts of future climate and socio-economic change on flows and nitrogen fluxes in India and Bangladesh, P. G. Whitehead et al.

QUASAR Lite : Excel Version of the Instream Component of the QUASAR/INCA Water Flow and Water Quality Model

Versions of the QUASAR model and the INCA model have been set up for a range of water quality determinands and applied to many rivers in the UK. The Environment Agency required a simplified version of the instream component of the models so that alternative land use scenarios could be simultaneously together with the impacts of point source discharges from Sewage Treatment Works or industrial sources.

The new Excel version of the model utilises a differential equation solver that allows for the QUASAR/INCA instream mass balance equations to be solved. The model simulates Flow, Nitrate, Ammonia, Total Phosphorus, Soluble Reactive Phosphorus, Sediment, E.coli, Pesticides and Pathogens. The Excel version is simple to use and is set up to simulate up to 4 reaches in a multireach river simulation, using a daily time step over a year. Thus overall seasonal and monthly patterns of behaviour can be evaluated as well as short term dynamics. The model also generates statistic summaries for environmental impact assessment.

Contact Professor Paul Whitehead for further information. 

Dr. Robert Willows joins with WRA

Dr Willows has expertise in the design of environmental risk assessments. Within the UK Environment Agency, Robert led an interdisciplinary team of experts in regional air quality modelling, catchment and agricultural land-use management, water quality modelling and ecological risk assessment. He also led on the development of the Environment Agency’s approach to risk characterisation under the Water Framework Directive and the development of DEFRA’s approach to the designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ’s).

Professor Martyn Futter joins WRA as an Associate

Professor Futter is a water quality modeller with extensive experience in model development and application. He is a key member of the INCA development team and has led or contributed to the development of models for nutrient, mercury and organic pollutant fate and transport. Most recently, he has been part of the development team for INCA-Tox, a generic, catchment-scale model for simulating the fate and transport of legacy and emerging organic pollutants. He is skilled in software development and environmental information management and has developed several tools for model calibration and sensitivity analysis. Martyn is an expert on European water policy including the Water Framework (WFD) and Floods Directives (FD). He has specialist regional expertise in Fennoscandia, the Baltic States, the UK and Canada and sectoral expertise in forestry, drinking water supply, acidification and diffuse pollution.

Latest WRA Bulletin

The WRA January 2015 bulletin features articles on i) Arid zone hydrology in the United Arab Emirates, which has considered rainwater harvesting as a means of boosting the water supply, ii) Latest software news: QUASAR Lite, a new Excel version that allows for the QUASAR/INCA instream mass balance equations to be solved. The model simulates Flow, Nitrate, Ammonia, Total Phosphorus, Soluble Reactive Phosphorus, Sediment, E.coli, Pesticides and Pathogens. Download the WRA bulletin.

TRMM data for water resource and flood defense projects


Over the past three years, WRA has been actively using TRMM data for water resource and flood defense projects, particularly in areas of sparse data.  Plinston David  is leading this initiative and has further enhanced the TRMM-Sys software and database configuration to provide continuous rainfall time-series and rainfall intensity-duration-frequency [IDF] curves for any point on the globe between the 50 degree latitudes. The software analyzes TRMM rainfall by quarter degree grid cell for any duration between 3 and 72 days for the 1998-2014 period , a record of 192 weeks of short-duration rainfall data.

This global database and software system can provide a rapid response to project requirements anywhere in the Earth's tropical and sub-tropical regions. An IDF relationship can be derived or specific storm events can be investigated for any location with relative ease.

So far, the data have been used and tested by WRA in Brunei, Sarawak, Indonesia, Yemen and Angola. The data have been validated by comparison of statistics with ground stations, and the software is undergoing further development.

WRA expertise in flood related studies


Flooding is the natural hazard which has the greatest impact on the UK whether the source of the excess water is from rivers, the sea, surface water or groundwater. This has been particularly evident over the current winter with many communities and essential infrastructure being badly affected. 


WRA partners and associates have a wealth of expertise in flood related studies over a range of scales from local flooding issues affecting a single property through to catchment scale flood modeling and strategic studies at a countrywide level. Our recent bulletin highlights some of the recent projects undertaken in the UK and overseas. 


WRA assists the UK Environment Agency with the National Water Climate Impacts Card




Climate change is expected to modify rainfall, temperatures and catchment hydrological responses across the world, and adapting to these water-related changes is a pressing challenge. Paul Whitehead and Andy Wade have worked with the UK Environment Agency, Defra and LWEC to develop Water and Climate Impacts Card for UK Rivers, lakes and Catchments. This card reviews the impact of climate change on water in the UK and looks at projections of future change. The natural variability of the UK climate change makes hard to detect; only historical increases in air temperature can be attributed to climate change, but over the last fifty years sea winter rainfall has been falling in intense events. Future changes in rainfall and evapotranspiration could lead to changed flow regimes and impacts on water quality, aquatic ecosystems and the water available for use by people. Summer flows may decrease on average, but floods may become larger and more frequent. Water quality may decline as a result of higher water temperatures, lower river flows and increased algal blooms.

Details of the water report cards are provided at  http://www.lwec.org.uk/resources/report-cards/water .

Further details on WRA's expertise and experience in climate change are available here .

WRA host a visit by a delegation from the National Engineering Research Centre, Shanghai.


On 24th September, WRA hosted a visit by a delegation of scientists from Shanghai. The visitors were from the National Engineering Research Centre Which undertakes  strategic research in water resources for Shanghai. The visit to the UK was Aimed at building on the long history of involvement of British expertise in Shanghai Ever since the first British built water treatment works was  opened 130 years ago. Frank Farquharson , Paul Holmesand Harvey Rodda gave presentations covering a range  of WRA projects and expertise

Upper Tamakoshi Hydroelectric Project


This peaking run-of-river scheme is located right in the middle reaches of the Himalayan mountains in Nepal, about 6 km from the border with China. Nick Mandeville , together with a counterpart hydrologist from the Nepal Electricity Authority, assisted Norconsult International in 2004 , by contributing to the hydrological analysis for the Feasibility Study.

Construction commenced in 2010, using in-country funding sources. Although its maximum output of 456 MW ​​is modest by international standards, when completed in 2016 it will be the largest hydropower scheme in Nepal, and assist in alleviating the current critical load shedding afflicting Kathmandu and other cities in the country.

A notable feature of the scheme is that it is located at the site of a huge 300 m high historical landslide, that blocked the steep-sided valley of the Tamakoshi river about 400-500 years ago, so providing a substantial gross head of 822 m water drop through the penstocks to drive the turbines.

The 1,745 km2 catchment area of the Tamakoshi river, upstream of the intake location, originates behind the main massif of the Himalayas, in a rain shadow. Downstream of the tailrace this river joins the Sun Koshi river, then the Saptakoshi, Which is and transboundary river flowing from Nepal into India, eventually to join the Ganges. Because the intake reservoir at the scheme is relatively small, with a height of 22m and live storage of 1.2 million m3, it only causes a change to the diurnal variation in river flows, and does not reduce the overall flow volume reaching the Ganges river.

For more information contact  Dr. Nick Mandeville .
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