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Water Users' Associations


  • For a long time irrigation systems were not managed well, because farmers who are the stake-holders had no role in managing the water resources. Recently efforts are made to organize farmers as water users and give them certain legal role and responsibility in maintaining water sources.

  • It is well-known that a group of people in need of a service are the ones most interested in its maintenance and quality. These stake-holders recognize the loss they sustain if they do not get proper service in time. Therefore, these stake-holders will have a strong incentive to manage well these services useful to them.

  • A law has been enacted in 1997 in Andhra Pradesh to give water users the responsibility to manage the water sources at various levels. In case of canal irrigation in large projects, these water users are organized in various tiers — minor canal, distributory and project. There is also provision for an apex body at the state level. In case of minor irrigation tanks, there are only primary organizations without any tiers.

Water Users' Association (WUA)

  • The most important organization of water users is the WUA at the primary level. In all major and medium irrigation projects, the ayacut is divided into water users' areas. Each WUA is usually limited to a minor canal ayacut and can cover a village or a few contiguous villages. The area covered can be from a few hundred acres to more than 5000 acres.

  • In case of major projects the WUA area is divided into sub-areas for territorial constituencies as follows:


No.ofTerritorial Constituencies.

Upto 2500 acres 4
2500 - 3750 acres 6
3750 - 5000 acres 8
More than 5000 acres 10
  • In case of minor irrigation projects, the division of sub-areas for territorial constituencies is as follows:


No.ofTerritorial Constituencies.

Upto - 500 acres 4
500 - 1000 acres 6
1000 - 1500 acres 8
1500 - 5000 acres 10

Who are members to WUA?

    • All land holders in the area.
    • Tenants of land
    • All other water users in the area — as co-opted members without voting rights.
    • If a person has land in more than one sub-area in the WUA, he can be a member only in one territorial constituency.

Managing Committee of WUA:

  • Every WUA has a Managing Committee comprising of a President and members elected for three years as follows:
    • President elected by secret ballot by all members of WUA (farmers and tenants) directly.
    • Members elected one from each territorial constituency.

Functions of WUA:

  • The WUA has the following responsibilities to be discharges in accordance with the over-all plans and allocations made by the Project and Distributory Committees.
    • To prepare and implement a warabandi (water distribution) schedule
    • To prepare and implement maintenance plan for the irrigation system
    • To regulate water use among various pipe outlets.
    • To promote economic use of water.
    • To help in preparation of demand and collection of water rates
    • To resolve disputes
    • To maintain accounts and other records
    • To discharge other


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