Groundwater Levels Could Deplete Drastically in the Coming Years, Say Experts
BENGALURU: India is the world’s largest consumer of groundwater. If estimates are to be taken into consideration, the country uses two and a half times the amount of groundwater used in the United States of America, said Dr Himanshu Kulkarni, executive director, Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM), based in Pune.
“Also, 80-90 per cent of our rural areas depend largely on groundwater. In this context, it has become a necessity to use dug wells, instead of borewells, as this will lead to a lesser strain on our groundwater levels,” Kulkarni added.
This was the consensus arrived at by most at a workshop held on groundwater management by Wipro, Biome Environmental Trust, ACWADAM and Mapunity.
Kulkarni said that the way the country is progressing at a rapid pace, it won’t be long when groundwater levels would recede drastically. “Earlier, if one were to dig a borewell, water could be found at a depth of just 300-500 feet. However, there have been many cases where water has not been found, even at 1,200 feet below the ground. This is an alarming trend,” he said.
Later, Avinash Krishnamurthy of Biome said that there needs to be an understanding of the aquifer system in the city. Taking the example of Rainbow Drive, a gated community off Sarjapur road which has opted to manage groundwater levels, Avinash said: “The community has taken to rainwater harvesting, understanding water usage of its residents and sewage management in a big way. As a result, so much is saved in terms of money and most importantly water levels. Resident welfare associations, schools, businesses, service providers and government organisations, the key actors in the process of managing groundwater, must come together and collaborate in this regard,” he said.
Kaustubh Mahamuni, chief scientist at ACWADAM, said that the number of people living in urban India is expected to grow to around 800 million by 2050. “Urban India is grappling with multiple water management challenges. The dependence on and the criticality of groundwater for growth of urban areas is now beginning to be acknowledged in academia. However, groundwater as a source has never been a part of formal urban water supply planning,” he added.