Cochabamba, Bolivia. Photo: Carolina Nuñez/ Flickr

Water resources managers worldwide face high levels of natural and human-induced hydrologic variability accompanied by climate change projections, suggesting increased risks of water scarcity.

This paper presents innovations in the RDS participatory framework as a contribution to Bolivia’s National Watershed Policy, specifically in the formulation of the Rocha River Basin Master Plan (PDC in Spanish), which is located in the Cochabamba Valley, Bolivia. This effort took place within Bolivia’s unique historical and political context related to water management.

Our methodological approach consists of combining the RDS framework for water resources management  to extend Bolivia’s guiding framework for the formulation of river basin master plans. We address the following questions: How does the water resources system model respond to water-related decision-making processes and institutional governance design at a range of scales within a river basin? How does the water resources system model contribute to the development of effective water planning instruments?

This paper could enable stakeholders to discern positive and negative interactions among water management interventions related to overall system performance, hydrologic risk management, and ecosystem functions; use
indicators across varying spatial and temporal reference frames; and identify management strategies to improve outcomes and mitigate cross-regional or inter-sectorial conflicts.