The first National level planning called Master Plan was prepared in 1964 by EPWAPDA. However the first systematic planning process was initiated by the then Master Planning Organization (MPO), which prepared the National Water Plan I, II during 1987 and 1991 respectively. These has been the beginning of the use of mathematical models and systematic database in water resources analysis. After the Flood of 1988, the Flood Action Plan (FAP) was prepared in 1995 and which followed the Bangladesh Flood and Water Management Strategy (BFWMS), issued in 1996 as the first guiding principle for water management in the country. The National Water policy (NWPo) was issued in 1999, and the National Water Management Plan (NWMP) was prepared in 2001 as per guidance from BFWMS. NWMP, approved in 2004, is the first plan document prepared following the principle of IWRM. The NWMP is a 25 years framework plan which provides a road map for the policy maker, private and public agencies and development partners for taking up projects/program of water management. NWMP provides 87 both National and Regional programs under eight clusters; to be implemented in short, medium and longer term by different agencies. The Plan was detailed out based on eight hydrological regions for regional planning programs.
It is been widely believed that NWMP has not been adequately implemented because of the institutional bottlenecks; especially WARPO was not institutionally strengthened and positioned for effective monitoring and coordinating the implementation of the NWMP. The development of the problems persisting in the water sector for effective implementation of a good plan do not occur all ways departmentally; they appear in a complex web of interrelationships with other agencies and Ministries, needing concerted efforts by more than one agency and Ministries; in that respect the present of position of WARPO does not allow to do the necessary effective coordination of the actions taken by different agencies under different Ministries. In other words appropriate level of coordination has been less evident in following the guidelines of NWMP and the implementation of National Water Policy 1999. Historically we see very few Plans have been fully implemented in the past primarily because of inherent weakness of the institutions, lack of coordination and often firm commitment from political leaders. Although many of the programs of NWMP have been incorporated in the following five year plan and perspective plan by Planning commission but the attainment of the overall objective is far short from the vision conceived in the NWMP.
The Bangladesh Water Act 2013 (BWA) has established WARPO as secretariat to executive committee (EC) of National Water Resources Council (NWRC) and gave the necessary legal authority for ensuring the implementation of the National Water Resources Plan (NWRP), replacing NWMP. NWRP is expected to produce a regional water (both ground and surface water resources) scenarios for present and for the future and delineate the in-stream and out‐of‐stream uses from surface water and groundwater sources. The approach will be an integrated one as illustrated in the policy and the BWA, taking into consideration of water quantity, water quality needs for all including those for ecology and environment. The implementation mechanism is expected to follow the rules and guidelines allowed within the purview of the NWRP and BWA. WARPO as secretariat to ECNWRC will prepare and update the NWRP periodically. Once the NWRP gets approved by NWRC, all public and private agencies are legally obliged to comply with the guidelines of the Plan for planning and implementing any interventions that affects the water regime.