The size and number of water projects and other development activities which influence the hydrological cycle have reached such proportions that the majority of problems involved extend beyond the boundaries of the traditional disciplines of hydraulics, hydrochemistry, hydrology and hydrogeology.
New scientific methods for the solution of the contemporary problems in water management include analogy, operation research, system analysis and cybernetics. The distinctive features of these methods are their emphasis on measurement and on the use of conceptual models described in quantitative terms, the verification of their theoretical predictions, and their awareness that concepts are conditional and subject to growth and continuous change. This new approach should be defined within the framework of water resources management, i.e. within a complex of activities whose objective is the optimum utilization of water resources with regard to their quality and availability and the requirements of society. These water management activities should at the same time also ensure an optimum living environment, above all through protection of water resources against deterioration and exhaustion as well as through the protection of society against the harmful effects of water. In the course of these activities water resources management should avail itself of the entire spectrum of explicit sciences, gradually coming to form the sphere of its own theory.
This monograph deals with the fundamental interdisciplinary problems of this complex sphere, an understanding of which is indispensable for successful water resources management in the widest sense of its social functions and environmental consequences. Thus, a common basis is provided for the mutual understanding of specialists from different backgrounds.