Over exploitation of ground waters, falling water tables, pollution of water even at those depths are some of the issues that have been worrying experts and environmentalists for nearly two decades. Of course the governments have been making laws to prevent this and also to improve situation. However experts say not only the laws are not properly implemented, still worse the violations are ignored for various reasons. In this backdrop The Hans India takes a look at the present situation in the State.
Realty affecting water tables
As far as the salinity in most of the areas in Konaseema, oil explorations of ONGC are main reasons. Seismic surveys being taken up by ONGC are changing the whole eco-system in the region”
East Godavari district can be divided into three parts to measure ground water level namely delta, upland and agency area. The ground water level is very high in the delta area, varies in the agency area and very low in the upland area. Nearly one lakh acres of land is being cultivated through rain harvesting mostly in upland area.
The ground water level in most of the mandals in upland area is very low. Average groundwater level was 15.47 meters in upland areas. It was 15.47 meters in January 2012 whereas it went down to 12.38 meters in February 2013.
In the delta region of the district, ground water level is very high, thanks to the irrigation system created by Sir Arthur Cotton. The average water level in the delta region was 3.46 meters in January 2010 and 2.78 meters in February 2013. But, the ground water is not useful for drinking purpose in mandals like Malkipuram, Uppalaguptham, Tallarevu, Sakhinetipalli, Mamidikuduru, Karapa, I Polavaram, Kajuluru and Allavaram as salinity of water is high and the people depend on protected drinking water systems and water tanks for drinking water.
In the agency area, the average ground water level was 4.85 meters in January 2012 and 5.41 meters in February 2013. The district average of water level was 8.799 meters in January 2010 and 6.969 in February 2013. The district average groundwater level was 7.826 meters in May 2011, 7.512 meters in May 2012 and 7.649 meters in April, 2013.
Speaking to The Hans India, Deputy Director, Ground Water Department, RV Venkateswara Rao said, “We measure static ground water level with 48 piezo meters in the district. Normally, we focus on water levels in upland areas as there will be no significant changes in the water levels in delta as well as agency areas. We measure water levels in pre-monsoon period from December and post- monsoon period from November.
There is no significant change in the water levels in the past few years and there is significant rise in the ground water level this year in comparison with the last year, thanks to Nilam cyclone”.
Official spokesperson of Konaseema Rythu Parirakshana Samithi, Matta Mahalakshmi Prabhakar said, “Ground water reserves are depleting as the region is becoming concrete jungle and due to lack of rain harvesting. Real estate boom is another reason for depleting ground water levels in the district. The government should continue to take steps to store water by cleaning up abandoned water tanks and canals through NREGS. There is need of check- dams and rain harvesting. As far as the salinity in most of the areas in Konaseema, oil explorations of ONGC are main reasons. Seismic surveys being taken up by ONGC are changing the whole eco-system in the region”.
Poor management of surface waters
The depletion of ground water is happening everywhere in the region. Due to deviation in rain fall and shortsightedness of government officials over maintaining surface water at natural water bodies, the situation of ground water level worsening year by year.
The following is the situation in different districts:
The shallow water table through Piezo meters studied by Ground Water Department clarified that the water level in Kuppagam of Adoni revenue division is 53.80 meters bgl (below ground level) in March 2013.
It was 51.98 mbgl in previous month and was 47.25 in last year March. The water level depleted by almost all 6.55 m in one year’s time.In Alamur-D village (Rudravaram mandal) the water level was just 13.1 m in 2012, but went into deep by 37.65 m by March 2013. In last May the water table was just 10.88m and depleted by 39.87m, which is worst in entire district.
The situation is same in Chittoor district also. The average rain fall across the district during April in every year was 872.2 mm, but actual spell was 809.3mm, where the deviation was calculated at minus 7.21%. The worst affected villages are in Western part of Chittoor district like Piler, Punganur, Tamballapalle, Kalikiri, Kalakada, B.Kothakota and others. The deviation of rain fall was almost all crossed minus 35%.
However the ground water table was also affected a lot. In Pulicharla village the water table dipped from 21.35 mbgl in April 2012 to 46.92 m in April 2013, which is almost all minus 25.57 mbgl. Here the actual rain fall in April 2013 was 601.2 mm against the normal rain fall 856.8 mm. Three fourths of district was in negative trend in terms of ground water table.
In Anantapuram district the ground water level was at 42.53 m bgl in Putlur mandal followed by Parigi and Somandepalli mandals, where the levels were at 32.29m and 29.17 mbgl. More scarcity of drinking and irrigated water is in 900 villages and 44 villages were declared as dangerous by district administration. The district’s average ground water level was estimated at 18.44 mbgl. The normal rainfall during April is 552.1 mm, but the actual fall is only 461.2 mm.
Thousands of acres of cultivated land remain barren due to the depletion in ground water table and farmers forced to deviate from cultivation as they lost thousands of rupees on digging of bore wells.
The district’s average ground water level in March 2013 is at about 17.08 m bgl, which is minus 4.37 m comparatively to March 2012. Comparing to May last year it was minus 1.55 m, because the situation had become worse within two months in 2012. The average GWL in Kadapa district was 12.71 m bgl in March 2012 but dipped to 15.53 m by May 2012, which is 2.82 m depletion in just two months.
In April 2013 the average GWL was 18.69, which is further depletion of 1.73 m bgl just within one month. In March 2013, the GWL was 17.08m, but went to 18.69m. If it is the district’s average data, anyone can imagine the depletion at specific places.
(With inputs from Y.Santosh Reddy-Ananthapur, K. Rajkumar-Kurnool, MS Murthy-Chittoor and P.Nagaraju-Kadapa)
Holistic approach is lacking
Household level Rail Water Harvesting (RWH) systems are required. However, by putting them on the top of the water conservation agenda does not help
These water bodies acted as water storage reservoirs for irrigation, drinking and groundwater recharge, and have been an inalienable part of the ecology of the city and its surroundings.
Gradually, while some lakes were encroached and replaced by concrete buildings, several others got severely polluted with the domestic and industrial effluents.
Increasing number of bore wells and the decline of ground -water table have resulted in the bore wells going deeper to over 800-1000 feet in several areas as many old bore wells are drying up. Due to increasing population in HUA and the slow expansion of Water Board coverage area, residents are increasingly resorting to groundwater usage.
With lesser availability of safe supplied water, in Hyderabad, as in many urban areas, poor communities tend to depend more on groundwater. Many landless agricultural labourers and marginal farmers have started migrating to Hyderabad to find employment, putting extra pressure on the already stressed urban infrastructure.
The new Hyderabad growth plan, in the form of HMDA Master Plan 2031, does not mention water and sanitation services, including the expected demand, resources to meet such demand and land use planning related to watsan services. Hyderabad also houses commercial and industrial activities like every other urban area. Pollutants released into the ground through these commercial and industrial activities seep deep and diminish the quality of groundwater.
Survey by Ground Water Department revealed that more than 50,000 borewells have gone dry in the summer of 2012.
Groundwater stress and Projected Water Deficit for Hyderabad Considering the limited potential of hard rock aquifers, reduced recharge and that the resource is being tapped from deeper depths, there is possibility of degradation of groundwater beyond recoverable level in future due to rapid urbanization in Hyderabad.
In case of Hyderabad, there is already stress on ground water and as per one estimate, about 25-30% of total water requirement is being met through ground water.
Water transport from Hyderabad’s peri-urban villages into the city is increasing, with it being a lucrative business, over and above pursuing agriculture. Hyderabad Metro Water Board also does such pumping and transport groundwater.
The intended regulation through Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA) has not made any impact in urban areas. Under the Act, it is compulsory to get permission from MRO before digging any bore well. It is also prohibited to draw water from below 500 feet of ground level. To meet the growing demand, people of all sections of the society frequently flout both these regulations.
Rainwater harvesting (RWH) RWH has regained its importance as a valuable alternative or supplementary water resource, along with more conventional water supply technologies.
Much actual or potential water shortages can be relieved if rainwater harvesting is practiced more widely Rainwater can be used for multiple purposes ranging from irrigating crops to washing, cooking and drinking.
However, individual rainwater harvesting systems are getting thrust, more than watershed management and conservation. Household level RWH systems are required. However, by putting them on the top of the water conservation agenda does not help.
Water as a natural resources should belong to everyone, especially when it comes in the form of rain, rivers, rivulets, ground water and tanks. Rain water harvesting would also become successful in increasing groundwater when there is promotion of urban watershed development, management and conservation including protection of water flow channels, tanks, nalas, cheruvus and lakes from encroachment and pollution. Restoration of such systems should be the priority of laws, regulatory authorities and residents.
Misuse of water a big worry
Ch Sowmya Sruthi
In Krishna district we receive 138 millimeters of rainfall. Although we are utilizing the ground water enormously, we are not contributing to recharge the water that is used. On the other hand, increasing mercury levels have added to the evaporation of the groundwater reserves.
The maximum depth of groundwater’s in the district is at Musunuru mandal with 50 meters and minimum depth is at delta area in the Vijayawada city with less than 5 meters low.
Rainwater harvesting is a concept that has to be educated among the farmers and digging farm ponds which requires only one percent of the total land are ideal techniques to save water in the agriculture field.
Deputy Director of Groundwater Department Angatha Varaprasada Rao said, water conservation should be made a habit. Misuse, indiscriminate use, inefficient use, over use of water which we think is freely available should be contained. Farmers should come out of the myths that farm ponds occupy land and lessen the harvest.
In fact, the pond which requires one percent of the land can not only collect and preserve rain water but laterally flows providing moist to the soil which increases the crop or vertically percolates to raise the water table. They may also serve water for the cattle in the field.
Protecting sand reaches essential
Over exploitation of water resources for decades together and lack of remedial measures have seriously been impacting the level of ground water table in Warangal district. The seriousness of the problem is such that even as the district received above average rain fall in the year 2012-13 there has been a drastic fall in the ground water level in about 300 villages in 13 mandals of the district.
The break-up of the 44 piezometer readings in 44 mandals collected by Ground water department indicates that there has been no improvement in 13 out of 44 mandals despite the high rainfall recorded in Warangal. The district received above normal rainfall of 1,070 mm during 2012-13 as against the 687 mm average recorded in 2011-12. Though this helped to recharge the groundwater table by an average 0.71 metre, the impact was not uniform.
A comparison of the piezometer readings from January-12 to January-13 shows that the ground water table jumped from average 9.02 mbgl (metres below ground level) on January-12 to 8.32 average mbgl as on January-2013. However, the April month district average is standing at 10.88 mbgl indicating the increase of depth of water available below the ground.
The situation in 13 mandals has been termed alarming. The reason for this according to experts in the field is ineffective implementation of AP Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA), 2002, combined with lack of rain water harvesting structures and over-exploitation of and reaches.
According to groundwater department deputy director G Sambaiah if excess sand is excavated from stream bed the bore wells near the stream dry up. Sand bank in rivers and streams help percolation of surface water into the ground and recharge bore Kakatiya University geology professor K Niranjan suggests that more water with high concentration of bore wells and uncontrolled mining of sand reaches should be stopped to improve groundwater table.
According to them, there has been 30 to 20 percent fall in the ground water table in the district in comparison with water table half a decade ago. “The key is rainwater harvesting structures and restoration of tanks,” said the Professor.
“In Warangal district a decade ago about ten percent of borewells used to fail and now the figures raised to 30 percent because of the fast depleting ground water levels” Singareddy Shoury Reddy of Bala Vikasa Service Society, which has been working in the field of water conservation.
In terms of agricultural bore wells the percentage of failed wells is about 50 percent.
The District Water Management Agency (DWMA) which delegated the task of renovating water bodies has completed only five traditional water bodies while works in 128 other water bodies is pending. “If silt from minor and small irrigation tanks is removed there would be a possibility of increasing groundwater 10-15 percent each year” Sambaiah noted. The lack of desiltation of the tanks has been rendering many tanks to dry up even before summer season reaches its peaks, the official noted.
The incident of Laknavaram Lake in Govindaraopet in the district drying up in this season is an example.
The Warangal City Municipal Corporation commissioner Vivek Yadav informed that under the corporation limits the citizens are being encouraged to dig ‘Inkudu guntalu’ (percolation pits) to recharge the ground water level. ‘There have been a positive response and this monsoon we will see the results” he added.