Posts Tagged by Gujarat
|May 5, 2011||Posted by karmadsen under blog, Conservation, Drinking Water, Groundwater and Agriculture, Groundwater and Surface Water, Groundwater Pumping|
This March, the Columbia Water Center published a report on the condition of groundwater resources in the Indian state of Gujarat. Gujarat supports thriving agricultural and dairy industries, which are heavily reliant on groundwater pumping. The Water Center’s report describes two main negative consequences of over-pumping of the region’s groundwater. First, as the water table falls, the energy demands of pumping it to the surface increase. In parts of Gujarat the water table is falling 9 feet a year, which means that farming is becoming more and more expensive. The second negative consequence, salt water intrusion, is much worse because it is irreversible and could render groundwater unsuitable for agricultural uses.1
Already, much of the groundwater registers high levels of salts, dissolved metals, and nitrate.
In 1995, the state of Gujarat launched the Hydrology Project 1 initiative to address some of these problems. Under the project, which officially closed in 2003, Gujarat set up hundreds of surface and groundwater monitoring stations and established the State Water Data Center. During the same period the Ministry of Water Resources constructed check dams and percolation tanks. They have encouraged rooftop rainfall collection for decades.
In late April, the Water Resources Minister, Nitin Patel, explained that some of the benefits achieved from these water management strategies have been neutralized by increasing demand, as the population grew and farmers gained access to better pump technology.
The Columbia Water Center posted a letter online (in response to a Times of India article) explaining that the surficial water table has in fact risen as a result of policies implemented by the Gujarat government, and applauded them for their efforts. But deeper, highly-productive aquifers used for agriculture are continuing to fall. The Columbia Water Center will be working with Ministry of Water Resourced to address some of the challenges outlined in their report.
1. Lall, U., Modi, V., Narula, K., Fishman, R., and Polycarpou, L. (2011). Addressing the Water Crisis in Gujarat, India. New York, New York: Earth Institute. Columbia Water Center White Paper.