Recognising the need for catering to the R&D needs in the field of Water Management, the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) was established as an autonomous research organisation by the Government of Kerala, under its Science and Technology Policy in February 1978. Two of the important personalities behind the establishment of this institute were Sri. C Achutha Menon, former Chief Minister of Kerala and Dr. P K Gopalakrishnan, former Secretary to the Government of Kerala, both of revered memory. The Centre had a steady growth along with its other sister institutes under the umbrella of the State Committee on Science, Technology and Environment.

The Centre originally established at Thiruvananthapuram was shifted to the present 35 ha-campus at Calicut in 1979. The main building at the headquarters, completed in 1988, has 7000 sq m plinth area. In addition to this, there are separate buildings to house the Water Quality Division, Isotope Hydrology Division,Library, Documentation and Information Division, Water Resources Museum, Guest House, Hostels for trainees and Canteen. Presently, around 50 families are residing in the staff quarters constructed within the campus.

Dr. C M Jacob, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala Agricultural University, was the founder Director of the Centre. The Centre initially had six scientific divisions, dealing with Surface Water, Groundwater, Water Management-Agriculture, Water Quality and Environment, Education and Extension, and Library, Documentation and Information. After a decade, scientific divisions to deal with Computer Applications and Isotope Hydrology have been added to the earlier list. In order to cater to the requirements of main areas of research, certain central facilities like Water Analysis Laboratory, Cartography, Reprography, Manned Observation Stations, Remote Sensing Cell and a Water Resources Museum have also been established. To take care of the special R&D needs of different hydro-ecologic regions of Kerala, six regional centres were started in 1991.

The Centre has substantially contributed to the scientific hydrologic studies and Water Management in the region. The projects of CWRDM were funded by different departments and agencies of the Central and State Governments in addition to the international agencies like UNDP, UNEP, World Bank, USAID, NAS (US), JBIC, ICEF, etc. Starting with the establishment of a data management system for the region, the Centre tackled different problems pertaining to Forest and Urban Hydrology, Estuarine Management, Groundwater Development, Water Quality Management, Water-related environmental issues, Wetland Management, Watershed Development, Agriculture Water Management, Irrigation and drainage issues, etc. Several tools like Mathematical Modelling, Systems Approach, Isotope Hydrology and Remote Sensing Techniques were made use of in the studies during the 1990s. More than 2000 scientific papers and 500 research reports were brought out based on these studies. The hydrologic data generated by CWRDM are expected to be of immense use to the water managers of Kerala. CWRDM has played a key role in supporting the Kerala Government in sorting out several Water Management issues. The draft water policy of Kerala, adopted in 1992, was prepared by CWRDM. The government sought the advice of the Centre on several inter-State water issues. The basic proposal leading to the Dutch-funded KCIP project and EC-funded KMIP project were drawn up by CWRDM. A few of the water resources projects of the State were made environment-friendly by CWRDM. The Centre initiated the JBIC-funded eco-restoration project of Attappady and ICEF-funded drinking water project in Lakshadweep, and carried out consultancy works for the Kerala Forestry Project and Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project funded by the World Bank, and the Dutch-funded water supply project utilising the water of Bharathapuzha.

The CWRDM is one among the Water and Land Management Institutes (WALMIs) started in 1990 by the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India under the IMTP, funded by USAID. Around 3000 government officials and thousands of farmers were trained in the Centre. Training on watershed management was also conducted at CWRDM for the Panchayats of northern Kerala. Several national level training programs on Irrigation Management, Watershed Development, and Wetland Management were conducted in CWRDM, in addition to providing training and research opportunities for students and research scholars. The Centre had academic and research linkages with Universities of Srathyclyde, Birmingham, Koyota, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UK), Hydraulic Research Station (UK), Danish Institute, etc; in addition, it had common programmes with IITs, NITs and Universities in India.

The Centre was amalgamated with the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) in its Silver Jubilee Year-2003.
{ed_n} , is the present Executive Director for the centre. The list of Executive Directors since inception of CWRDM as follows:

List of  Executive Directors

Sl.No

Name

From

To

1

Dr. C M Jacob                                

21.02.1978                           

31.07.1979            

2

Prof. A Abraham

01.08.1979

25.04.1980

3

Er. P Kumaraswamy

26.04.1980

24.09.1981

4

Dr. RGopalakrishnan Pillai

24.09.1981

28.02.1982

5

Dr. S Vasudev

01.03.1982

28.11.1986

6

Dr. R Gopalakrishnan

29.11.1986

31.12.1986

7

Sri. M Jayakumar

01.01.1987

04.02.1987

8

Dr. P Basak

04.02.1987

15.06.1994

9

Dr. E J James

16.06.1994

15.06.1996 (i/c)

10

Dr. P Basak

16.06.1996

07.11.2001

11

Dr. E J James

08.11.2001

21.02.2003 (i/c)

12

Dr. E J James

23.02.2003

30.09.2007

13

Dr. S P Rajagopalan

01.10.2007

31.10.2007(i/c)

14

Dr. M D Nandeshwar

01.11.2007

30.07.2008 (i/c)

15

Prof.(Dr.) K V Jayakumar

31.07.2008

31.12.2011

16

17     

Dr. N B Narasimha Prasad 

Dr. E.J.Joseph

01.01.2012

01.11.2016

31.10.2016 (i/c)