Skip to main content


Friday 09 Dec 2016Water Resource Models for Supporting Trans-boundary Negotiations: Colorado River to the Nile

Kevin Wheeler - University of Oxford

Harrison 170 14:00-15:00


Models are often used within a river basin to support water management decisions including the selection of infrastructure investments, simulation of water allocation, and formulation of reservoir operations. The inherently political nature of trans-boundary rivers additionally requires models to be well understood, trusted, and applied by competing interests if they are to be useful to support negotiations between competing states. Lessons from the 2012 negotiations on the Colorado River are being used to inform potential pathways within the more politically complex development of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that is currently under construction on the Blue Nile. Unofficial cooperative modelling efforts show that close coordination between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt will be necessary for safe filling and operation, but the dam can ultimately provide basin-wide benefits if the countries choose to work together. Although the dam is scheduled to be completed in 2017, how official coordination will manifest on the ground is still to be determined.



Kevin Wheeler is a PhD candidate in the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. He holds a MSc degree in Water Science, Management and Policy from Oxford, and MSc and BSc degrees in Civil/Environmental/Water Resource Engineering from the University of Colorado. As a professional engineer and consultant, Mr. Wheeler has worked for over 15 years on a wide variety of water-related issues ranging from community-based water development as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and Haiti to negotiations over contested international rivers. His work focuses on increasing water security through cooperation, specifically through collaborative development of risk-based modelling tools for seeking negotiated arrangements and coordinated management of resources and infrastructure. With 10 years of experience working on the Colorado River for federal, state, and NGO’s culminating in a key technical role in the successful Minute 319 negotiations between the United States and Mexico in 2012, he now focuses on the Nile River and the need for cooperative arrangements between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. His PhD explores the science-policy interface of trans-boundary negotiations and developing cooperative management strategies for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Add to calendar

Add to calendar (.ics)