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World Water Day: IAEA Projects Strengthen Access to Resources, Using Isotope Hydrology


A research at the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research uses an ion chromatograph for analysing major ions in water. These measurements will enable KISR to understand the quality of the water samples and their concentrations. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Each year, on 22 March, World Water Day focuses public attention on the value of water and the importance of access.

The IAEA promotes the use of isotope hydrology, allowing national experts to identify and assess the availability of groundwater resources; isotope tracers provide essential data about the origins and behaviour of pollutants; and the scientific databases supported by the IAEA inform water-use policies in Member States.

Recent achievements realized by the IAEA and its Member States in this area include the following:

In Mendoza, Argentina, scientists are using naturally-occurring isotopes as tracers to determine where groundwater comes from, how it travels, if it is recent or old, its recharge rate and whether it is polluted. (Photo: L. Gil Martinez/IAEA)

To further contribute to the global campaign against water insecurity, the IAEA forges and formalizes partnerships with international organizations or national institutions with complementary expertise. Recent developments in the area of partnerships include the following:

The IAEA’s technical cooperation programme also supports Member States in the preparation, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs), through dozens of projects. For countries with operational NPPs and for those considering the construction of new power reactors, the careful management of water resources is critical, particularly for countries that face scarcity, such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

For this reason, the IAEA developed the WAMP Tool to help Member States estimate the water demands and needs for cooling systems and for other essential systems of the nuclear power plant. WAMP not only estimates the costs associated with water consumption, it also provides a qualitative environmental impact assessment of any selected cooling system in NPPs. Last year, WAMP was updated and a new version was released, providing water management models which reflect the case of Palo Verde NPP in the United States of America, where only reclaimed water is used for cooling the reactors.

About 150 Member States and 21 international organizations are also using IAEA’s analytical tools for sustainable energy planning. These include the Climate, Land, Energy and Water (CLEW) methodology, which helps countries analyse complex interactions between water, other key resources and climate change.

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