Lal Muthuwatta, a hydrologist and mathematical modeler at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), received a top national award for a journal article based on his research in a river basin in Iran.
The President’s Award for Scientific Publications was presented to Muthuwatta at a special ceremony held in Colombo on October 31, 2014, for the research article, Assessment of water availability and consumption in the Karkheh River Basin, Iran—using remote sensing and geo-statistics, published in the journal Water Resources Management in 2010.
His Excellency, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was chief guest at the event. Patali Champika Ranawaka, former Minister of Technology and Research, and Dhara Wijayatilake, Secretary, Ministry of Technology and Research, were also present.
Muthuwatta’s research had developed a methodology to increase wheat production in the Karkheh River Basin in Iran. About 9% of Iran’s irrigated area lies within the basin, which produces up to 11% of the country’s wheat. Maintaining this production is vital, if Iran is to be self-sufficient in wheat. However, the water available in the basin is not sufficient to produce the quantities required.
Muthuwatta studied a complete cropping year, from November 2002 to October 2003, in two predominantly irrigated wheat areas in Upper and Lower Karkheh to identify how the basin’s water could be used to produce wheat in a more productive and intensive way. In addition to field observations, he used freely accessible images from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an instrument aboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Terra satellite that measures changes in Earth’s cloud cover,radiation and the oceans. With this information, he compared the quantity of water available in the basin with the amount consumed by the communities for their domestic, agriculture and livestock needs. The research revealed that wheat production in some areas of the basin could be improved with inputs such as fertilizer, seed and land preparation, and ranch land in certain areas could be converted to produce rainfed wheat. These measures would reduce the stress on water resources.
The study also formed the basis of his PhD in Water Management, which he received from the University of Twente, the Netherlands, on November 26, 2014.
The President’s Awards are organized by the National Research Council of Sri Lanka together with the Ministry of Technology and Research to recognize outstanding research in a variety of fields in Sri Lanka. The Awards recognize outstanding research published in prestigious scientific journals by Sri Lankan scientists from institutions in the country.
Read the journal article:
Muthuwatta, L.P.; Ahmad, Mobin-ud-Din; Bos, M.G.; Rientjes, T.H.M. 2010. Assessment of water availability and consumption in the Karkheh River Basin, Iran—using remote sensing and geo-statistics. Water Resources Management 24(3): 459-484.
Lal Muthuwatta is a Hydrologist/Mathematical Modeler at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka.