Arid Communities and Technologies

GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT

Geo-hydrologically, Gujarat has all the dominant aquifer rock formations of the country- sandstone, basalt and alluvium. Specifically, hard or consolidated rocks including basalts, granites, gneiss; semi consolidated rocks of sandstone, limestone, milliolite; and loose or unconsolidated formations of alluvium, colluviums deposits, river sand, tallus. These formations are present as shallow and deep aquifers based on the depth of water level.

Today all the aquifers systems of the state are under stress of exploitation and have depleting water levels and deteriorating water quality. The monitoring of these aquifers at Taluka/block level has several limitations and do not often provide a correct assessment of ground water.

As can be appreciated from the complex geological situation of the State, mostly, each block has several formations and each aquifer is not being monitored independently. This method is not recording the local shallow aquifers which are often providing the critical water security to the village.

Groundwater development and management criteria are based on use pattern instead of hydraulic characteristics of aquifer such as specific yield, permeability, transmissibility etc.

Up to 2007 whole blocks were classified based on water level depletion, and water quality parameter was not being recorded.

The inability of the state to gain a comprehensive and accurate understanding of their groundwater has resulted in competing interests of various stake holders like agriculture and industries to exploit the situation. As a clear and simple scientific tool has not been developed for each aquifer, the sharing mechanism has not been developed and legislation has been difficult. A clear methodology too is not agreed upon for arriving at scientific parameters of delineating aquifer units and quantification of water yield. While developing tools for unconfined aquifers requires a fair amount of research, arriving at tools of quantification and delineation for confined aquifers should be relatively simple. In the absence of a system for the whole state the control of use in confined aquifers too are not being addressed. Second, experiences have not been generated of equitable sharing of ground water resources based on scientific parameters. To work on groundwater management in coming years A.C.T. has set following objectives:

  • To be able to develop a scientific understanding of a major aquifer of Gujarat/Kachchh.
  • Multiple stake holders sharing an aquifer are able to demonstrate an equitable and sustainable sharing mechanism based on scientific appreciation of the geo-hydrology.
  • To achieve the stated objectives the main approach will be eliciting the contribution of local people, NGO’s, Policy makers and the scientific community.

Building consensus of the Scientific Community

It will be ensured that the relevant technical experts provide inputs for research and build a consensus on the method and results of this research- this will facilitate easy adoption of the results into policy. Individual groundwater researchers, planner, academic institutes, government groundwater department like GWRDC, CGWB, SIPC – Irrigation Department, and Scientific organizations will be involved in framing appropriate methodology; facilitate research activity;  and peer group review. For constant involvement of such individual/organizations regular consultation workshops, review will be organized. In addition academic organization will also be involved in scientific research, mapping and monitoring.

Relationship with policy makers

To influence policy it is important to build a need, appreciation of the issue and contributions from policy makers. And therefore, during the project attempt will be made to involve political representatives, bureaucrats and local officials in the program.

Local Stakeholder Participation

A successful methodology developed by A.C.T. is the identification and involvement of the ‘Rural Expert’ in knowledge building of the aquifer. As they seamlessly combine science and governance, they will facilitate the process with the villages towards building the groundwater management guideline and its implementation.

Technical Resource Centre

A.C.T. has promoted and demonstrated the concept of regional centers where trained local youth provide technical services to the region. PARAB is an operational centre in Abdasa Taluka in Kachchh. Their expertise is developed in the understanding of the aquifers of the region based on which they can provide a variety of services from identification of aquifer, mapping, delineation, water testing, recharge planning and design and financial estimation. At a later date when sufficient demand for services is created the PARAB leader can set up a regional office in the area.

Advocacy

The findings and experiences will be used for advocacy to influence policy. To share the experiences state/national level workshops will be organized. Experienced documentation and publications will also be prepared for lobbying and advocacy.