Published December 23, 2022 | Version v22c

Global Inter-Basin Hydrological Transfer Database


This document describes a global database of inter-basin hydrological transfers that has been used by the University of New Hampshire Water Balance Model for several years.  The database has focussed primarily on large scale water transfers that are built, under-construction, or proposed. 


See README file for complete documentation.

The Global Inter-Basin Hydrological Transfer Database was constructed by first identifying inter-basin hydrological transfers collected from a variety of sources including peer reviewed journals, grey literature (e.g. white papers, reports), news sites, and other pages on the Internet.  These sources were cited in the "References" field of the database and due to the length of time over which this database has been developed, numerous documents obtained over the Internet are no longer available.  Several of them are available by request.

The IBTs were assigned unique identification numbers and entered into the database sequentially under two categories, those in the watersheds linked to High Mountain Asia and those in the rest of the world.  The Himalayan-related transfers were assigned numbers starting with 1 and the rest of the world were assigned numbers beginning with 100.  The focus was primarily on larger transfers that would be of interest to macro-scale hydrological research, however, there are instances of smaller transfers in the database.

Information available for any given transfer was highly variable and, in many cases, limited to a name and descriptive and approximate start and end locations. Combining this information with Google Earth allowed for the identification of many start and end points of the transfers as well as the intermediate paths identified by canals, pipelines, and other water-related infrastructure.  The start and end coordinates were then registered to digital river networks used within our research group.  The registration to the digital river networks frequently included manually adjusting the start and/or end grid cells of the diversions to coincide with the digital representation of the river network to ensure the uptake or delivery of water was in the appropriate grid cell within the modeling domain. Additionally, where possible IBT start points were aligned to reservoir locations.  Records of IBTs that lacked either geospatial information or some estimate of water flows being transferred were removed from this version of the database.

Because the intent of this database development was primarily for macro-scale hydrological modeling, many complex IBT systems were simplified into a reduced number of connecting sections in order to capture the overall movements of water.  Therefore caution should be exercised when using these data for local or small-scale applications.




Sectors and Systems


Temporal Resolutions



UNH Water Balance Model (WBM)

February 3, 2023
June 29, 2023