Concepts for sustainable water management in the problem areas of greater Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod: IWRM in the catchment areas of the rivers Oka and Volga

In order to stabilize Russias high economic growth rates, it is necessary to sustainably use and safeguard water and renewable energy resources. This particularly holds true under varying conditions, such as climate change and the fundamental socio-economic changes currently taking place in Russia. An appropriate IWRM requires the use of efficient technologies. For the regions of greater Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, specific requirements arise in connection with other parts of the river basins of the Oka and Volga.

Problem outline

High rates of economic growth, profound social changes and climate change pose great challenges on water management in Russia. This especially holds true for urban agglomerations like greater Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. Here, the demand for water and energy is especially high, but so are the risks regarding water and energy resources. The problems of supply and disposal in the area of greater Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod, whose water resources are limited due to its natural conditions, can be solved exclusively in the catchment areas of the rivers Oka and the upper Volga. In order to achieve a sustainable socio-economic development in these regions, one needs to consider various aspects, ranging from environmental boundary conditions in the river basin to the maintenance of hydro-engineering plants and water supply systems.

Project aims

Considering the situation prevailing in the greater Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod region and the river basins of Oka and Volga described above, as well as findings of a previous project regarding an IWRM in problem areas of the rivers Rhine and Volga, the urgent necessity for a river basin-oriented IWRM with special regard to urban agglomerations becomes apparent. To this end, comprehensive and concerted planning tools allowing the resolution of complex water-related problems are being developed on an interdisciplinary scientific basis. Concrete goals in this context are quantitative and qualitative preservation and distribution of available water resources as well as an environmentally sound sewage disposal. Depending on local conditions, e.g., water distribution networks of urban areas are to be optimized and flood protection is to be improved. In doing so, the waterbodies as part of the habitat should be left close to its natural condition in order to preserve both their ecological function and their socio-economic usefulness, e.g., as a recreational area.


The findings and models of the previous Volga-Rhine project allow the quantification of core functional chains of a river system, from hydrological processes in the catchment areas, to flow patterns of the waters, to the location of a single hydro-engineering plant. Furthermore, focusing on urban areas, other starting-points such as material flow modelling, water development planning, complex water supply management systems and GIS-based environmental monitoring were defined. For the development of an IWRM, the project outlined here requires a synthesis of these research areas and is divided into three subprojects:

  • operational modelling of water flow and material flow in river basins on the basis of practice-oriented environmental monitoring (implementation: Institute for Water and River Basin Management, IWG),
  • river management and hydrodynamic-numerical modelling of waterbodies (IWG),
  • life cycle management of hydro-engineering plants (Institute of Concrete Structures and Building Material, IfMB, and IWG).

The subprojects are being implemented in close cooperation with authorities and scientific partners in Russia in order to ensure a transdisciplinary utilization of project results in Russian water management practice. Key intermediary agents are the partners of the Russian Research Institute of Hydro-Technology and Amelioration in Moscow, the Moscow State University of Environmental Engineering, the Nizhny Novgorod State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering as well as the managing company of the Russian energy group RAO EES, HydroOGK.


Given the models and experiences existing on the German side as well as the present coordination with the Russian partners, the project outlined above has very good prospects for making a major contribution to the implementation of an IWRM in the regions of greater Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod and the basins of the rivers Oka and Volga. Well founded, interdisciplinarily coordinated and region-specific optimized IWRM tools can provide a valuable impetus to Russian water management and can form a reliable planning basis for a sustainable development of this region. At the same time, they open new perspectives for German-Russian cooperation in the energy sector and technology development. Furthermore, such a cooperation offers diverse investment opportunities for German companies in the Russian market. Due to the modular structure of the project, the methodology developed here is very flexible. This adaptability allows its implementation in other Russian regions as well as in other countries.

Language Versions



  • <br>DVGW-Forschungsstelle an der Universität Karlsruhe (TH)</br>

    • Prof. Dr. Dr. habil. F.H. Frimmel
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  • Universität Karlsruhe <br>Institut für Wasser und Gewässerentwicklung</br>

    • Prof. h.c. Dr.-Ing. R. Krohmer (Projektkoordination)
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