Hydrology in Bangladesh: Navigating complexity and sustainability

In BWI’s latest blog post, we take a deep dive into the hydrology in Bangladesh and its extensive river network.

In BWI’s latest blog post, we will explore the hydrology in Bangladesh, a country that depends highly on its river network for it’s economical and social functions.

Bangladesh’s hydrological riches

Bangladesh has a diverse hydrological network, comprising of hundreds of rivers, lakes, and other smaller water bodies. With over 700 rivers flowing through its breadth, Bangladesh’s hydrology is the nucleus of its agricultural functions, fishery operations, and transport.

River Basins: Bangladesh’s hydrological framework

Bangladesh’s river basins play a crucial role in sustaining its water resources and supporting the livelihoods of millions of citizens. Without further delay, let’s dive in!

The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin

Covering several countries in South Asia like India, the GBM Basin spans over a large portion of Bangladesh’s territory. The confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers forms one of the world’s largest deltaic systems. In addition to providing vital freshwater input to the Sundarbans, the biggest mangrove forest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this basin feeds agriculture.

Did you know? The basin is home to over 600 million people!

Challenges: The GBM Basin faces major issues from sedimentation, flooding, and water pollution. Millions of people and their livelihoods are affected by flooding, which is made worse by the yearly monsoon rains. Water pollution also results from agricultural and industrial runoff, which has an impact on aquatic ecosystems and human health issues. 

The Barak-Surma-Kushiyara Basin

Situated in Bangladesh’s northeast, the Barak-Surma-Kushiyara Basin is essential for fisheries, irrigation, and hydropower production. The Surma and Kushiyara rivers flow into Bangladesh as part of a complex network of tributaries, having their source in the Indian state of Manipur.

Challenges: Soil erosion, siltation, and deforestation pose a threat to the basin’s ecological balance. Moreover, efforts to manage water resources and cooperate are made more difficult by transboundary water management difficulties with India.

The Teesta Basin

Originating in the Himalayas, the Teesta River traverses through the northern region of Bangladesh, supporting agriculture and hydroelectric projects.

Did you know? The Teesta river is over 400km long, flowing in both India and Bangladesh!

Challenges: Bangladesh’s agricultural production and downstream flow have been impacted by water sharing issues resulting from India’s construction of dams and barrages upstream. The Teesta Basin’s water stress is made worse by rainfall patterns that are more variable due to climate change.

The need for sustainable water management in Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s river systems are essential to the country’s agriculture, economy, and way of life. However, they also deal with similar issues including pollution, erosion, and the effects of climate change. Effective water management techniques must be put into place in Bangladesh to guarantee the sustainable use of the country’s water resources.

In light of the complex hydrology in Bangladesh, thorough and well-thought-out water management strategies are essential. River discharge forecasts are essential for tackling these issues. These forecasts help with well-informed decision-making for flood mitigation, water resource management, and agricultural practice optimization by offering insights into river flow patterns.

Find out more about the hydrological forecasting services provided by BWI and how they contribute to sustainable water management.