Thursday, October 4, 2012


The water Resource Ministry of Government of India has released a notification and a fact sheet on National Aquifer Mapping Programme (NAQUIM). The Central Groundwater board and the State Groundwater Departments will act as the main functionaries in this programme. It is also decided by the government that national level aquifer mapping will progress substantially through the 11th five year plan period. Considering the fact that those government departments alone cannot accomplish the job it has been decided that stake holders and NGOs would be involved in this endeavor.  This national level programme also has components like nation wise training and human resource development.
But, what is an aquifer map and what it is for?
The concept of aquifer mapping is not new. Many developed countries like Australia and USA have already completed aquifer maps in certain areas like Murray Darling Basin and Texas. They have already published some of the reports and maps. An aquifer map is not a single map, on the other hand it is a group of several maps that would describe the aquifer system and management criteria and options in an area.
In NAQIM programme of India it has been proposed that aquifer maps would include (1) Identification of Aquifer Management Units (AMU) (2) Evaluation of AMU, (3) Data preparation and generation of different categories (4) Prioritization of AMU, (5) Preparation of aquifer management plans and aqifer management and information system, (6)  Participatory groundwater management.
Aquifer management units are something different from a Hydrogeological unit. In a hydrogeological map generally geological units are described by its hydrogeological characteristics. But an AMU contains much more than that. It includes the 3 dimensional matrix of all information like extent of the aquifer, depth, thickness, geology, hydrology, land use on it, recharge and discharge related information and its political and social boundaries.
This is the most difficult task. Aquifer evaluations are conducted for various purposes including water supply development as well as groundwater contamination and remediation situations. They can range from fairly intense evaluations involving test drilling, geophysical investigations, installation of monitoring or observation wells, test pumping, physical and chemical water quality analyses, analytical and digital modeling to rapid evaluations based on existing data.
The groundwater departments and states are generating groundwater data on regular basis. But those data are generally categorized on the basis of revenue boundaries and not on the basis of aquifer boundaries. So under NAQIM aguifer related data should be compiled and generated. A suggestive list of required data is given below.

   - Evaluation of existing data
   - Test drilling
   - Installation of monitoring or observations wells
   - Geoprobing and/or hydro probing
   - Geophysical investigations
   - Geophysical borehole logging
   - Groundwater gauging
   - Groundwater sampling and analyses
   - Test pumping
   - Slug testing
   - Analytical and digital groundwater modeling
   - Solute transport modeling
   - Groundwater monitoring
AMUs are basically aquifers subdivided into management units. These units are prioritized according to the demand and usage depending on the evaluated parameters of the aquifer. Before prioritization a management framework is required. The framework may include:
• Establish the baseline groundwater conditions and range of natural variability in the aquifer to facilitate enhanced knowledge and detection of change.
• Provide a consistent approach to understanding potential effects from all development activities on the surrounding environment.
• Facilitate projections of change based on future scenarios, such as expanding development or climate variability and change.
• Support and supplement the current pollution prevention and risk management principles as part of groundwater quality and quantity management.
 Prioritisation index:
Depending on the hydrogeology, quality of water and development status a prioritization index is to be developed by the groundwater authorities.
AMUs are initially ranked according to an index (equation 1) based on normalised current groundwater extraction, the fraction of groundwater allocation currently extracted , the fraction of sustainable yield currently extracted , a potential growth index and an index of the predicted future impact of groundwater extraction on surface water flow.
Apriority evaluation index has been attempted in Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project ( other algorithms can be developed to prioritise aquifers in our country. In a GIS platform both raster and vector based analysis may lead to an efficient decision support system.
This initiative will seek to protect the long term water supply capacity of the aquifer by controlling average annual aquifer use and balancing it with average annual recharge.
                                i.            Aquifer Protection Plan: This initiative will seek to assess the quality of the water in the aquifer and then to protect it by encouraging activities that enhance water quality and by discouraging activities that degrade it.  The key components are
                              ii.            Maintain Status Quo where water level is alarmingly depleted.
                            iii.            Reduce withdrawal of water: Water withdrawal may be reduced by introducing innovative farming, recycling of water and reducing consumption. The management plan will address aquifer specific recommendation.
                            iv.            Enhance Natural Recharge: To enhance natural recharge proper steps should be taken. This may include afforestation, gully plugging, construction of sub surface dykes etc. This initiative will seek to maximize aquifer recharge with good quality water by encouraging beneficial land and water management practices and by investigating the potential to use stream flow.
                              v.            Monitoring plan: This initiative will seek to maintain a current and comprehensive scientific database on the aquifer by collecting, compiling and evaluating data. The current aquifer monitoring activities could be reviewed to coordinate and redesign them, focusing on the comprehensive protection of the Aquifer.
                            vi.            Manage Pollution Risks: Activities carried out in pits and dumping areas within the primary recharge area present a variety of risks to aquifer water quality. The risks associated with these activities could be assessed and, where required, action taken to manage them as part of an aquifer protection plan. Other risks like geogenic contamination like As and Fl should be properly addressed in the management plan to reduce public health hazards.
                                      vii. Reduce Incoming Salt Water: The regional salt water flow to the aquifer could possibly be intercepted by installing a set of management structures or through innovative engineering activities.

The potential long term success of this management plan depends on the understanding and cooperation of a diverse group of people.  It is believed that a better informed group makes better decisions.  Only common understanding will engender the cooperation needed to formulate,  implement and maintain a successful long term stewardship plan for the Aquifer. Additional study is required to achieve a better understanding.  Extension education is required to make knowledge gained available to all area residents.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sustainable groundwater management – Report of the Working Group of the Planning Commission for the 12th Five Year Plan

Submitted by Amita Bhaduri on January 6, 2012 - 16:27

This is the report on “Sustainable Groundwater Management” by the Working Group set up by the Planning Commission as a part of the process to prepare the 12th Five Year Plan. The existing methodology of groundwater resources assessment is appropriate and suitable for country-wide groundwater resources estimation, considering the present status of database available with the Central and State agencies.
However, the following corrective or additional measures are suggested -
  • Alternative techniques of recharge estimation should be taken up in areas where assessments derived through GEC do not match with the field situations.
  • Micro-watershed (hard rock areas) and doab (alluvial areas) - wise assessment based on actual field estimation of recharge and discharge parameters (GEC-1997) to be taken up in few identified areas.
  • Utilize regional scale assessment methods like space-based measurements for validation.
  • All data elements need strengthening and refinements through R&D support in the form of project based studies (regional and local scales) and should be dovetailed with the County’s Ground Water Resource Assessment. For instance, studies on estimation of baseflow, recharge from streams, inflow-outflow across assessment boundary to be taken up on pilot basis in select areas.
  • Continuous strengthening of database managed by the Central/ State Governments for groundwater resources estimation is required. Benchmarking of the data elements needs to be established in this regard.
  • To develop prognostic models of resource estimates in changing climate.
  • There must be a convergence of assessment of ground water in terms of quantity and quality, for accurate estimation.
  • Groundwater resources assessment should be an iterative process involving evaluation and refinement by incorporating new techniques and giving due consideration to climate change.
  • Aquifers are the repositories of ground water resources, hence aquifer mapping has been given due consideration for sustainable management of ground water in the 12th plan. Toposheets will be the base while initiating the mapping of aquifers. Aquifer mapping at the scale of 1:50000 should be initiated. Such mapping can be taken up at appropriate scales (higher or lower) as per specific requirements. Aquifer mapping shall be taken up as part of the 12th Plan as a co-ordinated effort. Led by CGWB and in close co-ordination with other organisations including research institutes and civil society organisations, aquifer mapping must lead to comprehensive groundwater management plans.
  • Comprehensive plan for participatory groundwater management based on the understanding and outcome of aquifer mapping shall be taken up. Stakeholders should be motivated through appropriate mechanisms by exploring the possibility of a dedicated programme on groundwater or implementation through other appropriate programmes.
  • Creation of state-level institutions to manage groundwater is suggested. There will be a parity of design and mandate in the development of such State level institutions, based on existing good practice. The working group also suggests creation of a network of institutions to facilitate the process of groundwater management. Strengthening the mandate and design of institutions dealing with groundwater to enable them to perform their roles is strongly recommended. Such strengthening will also draw from the fields of participatory management of resource, social science and economics.
  • Strengthening of ground water monitoring network by increasing density and frequency of monitoring points for ground water level and water quality is recommended. A combination of participatory measurement as well as automation shall be taken up during such strengthening. Strengthening of institutions dealing with groundwater in terms of manpower/professionals and design is recommended to enable them to perform their roles.
  • The technological advancements being utilized worldwide should be introduced in CGWB to upgrade the institutional, infrastructural and human resource capabilities and bring CGWB to an international level, with best possible techniques and technologies for better management of ground water resources in the country.
  • It is suggested that Planning Commission constitute a system at the apex level to bring coherence among different ministries dealing with groundwater, in an attempt to ensure improved groundwater management and governance. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stockholm Water Prize - World Water Week

Stockholm Water Prize - World Water Week
The Stockholm Water Prize is regarded as the world's most prestigious prize for outstanding achievement in water-related activities. The annual prize, which includes a usd 150,000 award and a crystal sculpture specially designed by Orrefors, honours individuals, institutions or organisations whose work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection of water resources and to improved health of the planet's inhabitants and ecosystems.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vaccine for drought: The 'rain god' of Saurashtra, Gujarat - Shri Premjibhai Patel of Vruksh Prem Seva Trust

Submitted by Yashodhar Dixit on May 17, 2012 - 13:00

Author : Yashodhar Dixit
Saurashtra region of Gujarat state was cursed due to constant drought since many decades. But, not any more. It is due to mammoth efforts made by one man Shri Premjibhai Patel of Vruksh Prem Seva Trust.
Even as a businessman, he was constantly worried about depleting water availability in his birth state. He started planting trees 3 decades ago and with his innovative machine he planted  10 million trees and brought about climate change to the region. His next endeavour was to construct small check dams. Till date 2000 check dams are constructed and that bagged National Award by The Ministry of Water Resources in 2008. Dr. Kalam was so impressed with his work that he personally called him to meet when he was in Gujarat in 2010. He also praised him during "Young Innovators Award" in IIM Ahmedabad.
Shri Premjibhai's work has successfully controlled drought, stopped migration of people from the region, farmers have started taking more than 2 crops per annum, ecology has shown tremendeous change, drinking water problem was dealt with, water table has improvised and endless small and big creatures survived. The skill to take local people's help in work has given him upper edge in social work. Socio economic change was observed and many students studied his pattern of work.
Prof.Anil Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad has written: "Why can't we have a chapter in the text book about Premjibhai or his miraculous work?"
Right now Vruksh Prem is busy with rain water harvesting and so far constructed 1500 underground water tanks in the coastal region of Mangrol district of Gujarat. The prosperity of the Saurashtra region can be easily seen due to availability of essential commodity like water.
Times of India quotes him as "Rain God". The NGO is open in sharing his innovative methodology to any one and welcomes everyone to see the miracle.
For further details you may contact Shri Yashodhar Dixit on or 09898995664.
Name of Author: 
Yashodhar Dixit

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hydrogeology of Rajarhat New Town

The project area and its surrounding parts are underlain by huge thickness of quaternary sediments laid down by the southerly flowing Bhagirathi river and its tributaries. The major area is occupied by recent alluvium comprising of gray sticky clay, fine and medium sand mainly. At a depth of 120 metre or more there is a brown clay horizon of sub recent age. Average thickness of the clay layer near to the surface is about 25 metres.
Groundwater occurs in several granular zones deposited by the river system. Sand horizons of different grades textures and colours constitute the main aquifers. In Rajarhat area due to the presence of thick clay at the top the upper aquifer gives a semi confined character. The drilling data available from the tube well drilled at Ecospace, Bengal Ambuja Complex shows that there is a thick gray clay bed upto a depth of 10 metres. From 10 to 42 metres there are several layers of fine sand often mixed with clay. This is the upper low yielding aquifer of the area. Below this there is a dark gray clay bed between 42 metre and 55 metres.  From 55 metres to 84 metres there is a bed of fine sand. Below this medium sand occurs  upto a depth of 100 metres (16m thickness). Below this upto a depth of  135metres there is fine sand.
The litho log and assembly is given in plate I
The zone between 55 metre and 135 metre constitutes a potential aquifer in this area and most of the groundwater is withdrawn from this area.
Groundwater level in Rajarhat block is regularly monitored. The post monsoon Groundwater level (2011) of 7 monitoring stations in and around the project area is given in the table1. With the help of the data a depth to water level zonation map is prepared which is shown in plate II.

Table 1. Post Monsoon depth to water level of Rajarhat area. (Source: SWID)
Sl NoMouza
Type of well
Post monsoon DWL mbgl
1              Patharghata      
Village centre
Tube well
2              Chandpur           
Panchayet office
Tube well
3              Gopalpur            
Health Centre
Tube well
4              Rajarhat              
Bishnupur Health Adm unit
Tube well
5              Ghuni   
Primary School
Tube well
6              Jagadishpur       
Primary School
Tube well
7              Sukantanagar Salt Lake 
Near Club
Tube well

It appears that the post monsoon depth to water level of the project area is between 8 to 9 metres below ground level. Water level is also collected from a deep tube well of the Tinkanya project site. The depth to water level of that well on25 January 2012 is 8.29 mbgl. The tube well tapped the aquifer between the depth 80m bgl to 95 m bgl.