Water Resources Management
Water plays a critical role in meeting our needs in diverse fields – providing, inter alia, water for drinking, agricultural and industrial uses as well as maintaining the eco-system. India has a large irrigation network and has been in the forefront for establishing institutions and policies aimed at facilitating planned development of water resources including a National Water Policy. Despite the continuing concerns and efforts, the water sector in India appears to be in a bind. Withdrawal of water at four times the rate it was 65 years ago to support a population of 1210 million (in 2010) at an enhanced level of nutrition, public health parameters and living standards is to say the least, stressing the water capital. The ecosystem health has also been compromised severely. Realizing the seriousness and the importance of the water issues to our programs for national well- being, INAE decided to undertake a research study to examine a few critical aspects of water supply and demand in various sectors and come up with implementable recommendations to overcome the lacunae in the water resources sector. Mr. SS Chakraborty is the Coordinator of this study group on “Water Resources Management” with Prof. S Mohan, Dr. RR Sonde, Prof Subhash Chander and Dr. NK Tyagi as Members. The study assesses the demand for water from the various sectors of the economy, their trends and the potential shift from one sector to another in the light of the changes in the composition of the economy, the food security requirements, implications of changes in the lifestyle and other factors. This study analyses inter-alia water availability, water quality and water demands in a few sectors along with the water-energy linkages, at the river basin level.
India has a reasonably good endowment of water resources with an average rainfall of 1083 mm equivalent to 3560 billion cubic metre (BCM)/year. However, the available amount is substantially less and is estimated at 1869 BCM in the form of surface water and ground water. Climate is one of the factors that is expected to disturb the hydrologic cycle. Preserving water quality is critical for sustained economic development and it is not a quality vs development issue. Degradation of water quality affects health and productivity, thereby impacting development activity adversely. This Research Study makes an effort to estimate the gap between supply and demand of water over the medium term upto 2025 and 2050, based on data available and taking cognizance of the uncertainties inherent in such estimations.
The common issues regarding surface and groundwater are salinity, toxicity and presence of pathogens. The specific problems relating to surface water are eutrophication, oxygen depletion and ecological health; whereas groundwater specific issues are presence of fluoride, nitrate and arsenic contamination. As water quality standards differ with intended use, it is essential that while quantifying the degree of pollution, the standards and guidelines for use are kept in view. The overall gap in demand and supplies would not exist and the dependability of the system would be greatly enhanced after implementation of the various recommendations given below.
Demand Management Technology interventions identified for maximizing productivity are listed below:
Water Security for Domestic, Industrial and Other Requirements
The requirement of 261 BCM by 2025 and 373 BCM by 2050 will be met by utilizing perennial ground water resources as well as from the storages created.
Sustainability of Ecosystems
The total environmental demands to maintain the ecosystem is estimated as 353 BCM. A Scientific Panel consisting of Biologists, Ecologists, Geomorphologists and Hydrologists needs to be constituted to assess the water needs after taking care of the species composition in the riverine Wetlands. The Panel would define the capacity to support and maintain a balanced, integrated, adoptive ecosystem having the full range of elements (genes, species and assemblages) and processes expected in the natural habitat of a region.