There is a developing concern that the world water resource will prove to be inadequate to meet the ever-increasing demands by humankind. An integrated river basin management approach is essential for land and water use planning due to the complexity of land/water interactions.

This paper provides a selective overview of some of the issues affecting sustainability in river basin management. These include the need to: develop methodologies for integrated river basin management which include land-use management and planning; improve the volume and accuracy of national and global assessment of water resources; develop, promulgate and implement waste minimisation and recovery techniques, preferably pollution prevention; develop low-tech, low cost treatment options; increase application of use-related receiving water standards; develop and apply economic evaluation tools to both environmental costs and benefits; and inform, educate and train professionals and the public.

Any solution arrived at must be acceptable to the local community; two-way communication is vital to the success of a project, which may well require changes in the behaviour of the community served.