Enhancing the efficiency of water use through theadoption of agricultural strategies, croppingpatterns, and improved water application methods,such as land leveling and drip/sprinkler irrigation.
Stakeholder participation in land-soil-watermanagement with scientific inputs from localresearch and academic institutions to evolvedifferent agricultural strategies, reduce soilerosion and improve soil fertility.
Incorporating coping strategies for possibleclimate changes in the planning and managementof water resource structures, such as dams, floodembankments and tidal embankments.
Enhancing water available for use
India’s average annual precipitation is about 4,000Billion Cubic Meter (BCM). Of this, only about 1,123BCM is utilizable. This limited availability of waterwill not meet the rising demand caused by populationgrowth, rapid urbanization, industrialization andeconomic development. The report suggests thefollowing ways to augment the water available forutilization:
Rainfall needs to be used directly and inadvertentevaporation of water needs to be avoided.
Aquifers need to be mapped to know the quantumand quality of ground water resources. Localcommunities should be involved in this process.
Declining ground water levels in over-exploitedareas need to be arrested by introducing improvedtechnologies of water use and encouragingcommunity based management of aquifers.Additionally, artificial recharging projects shouldbe undertaken so that more water is rechargedrather than extracted from aquifers.
Inter-basin transfers of water from surplus basinsto deficit basins/areas need to be encouraged toincrease the production of water.
Integrated watershed development activities withgroundwater perspectives need to be undertakento increase soil moisture, reduce sediment yield,and increase overall land and water productivity.Existing programmes such Mahatma GandhiNational Rural Employment Guarantee Act maybe used by farmers to harvest rain water usingfarm ponds and other soil and water conservationmeasures.
Demand management and water use efficiency
The draft NWP recommends the following methods topromote and incentivize the efficient use of water:
Systems to benchmark water use, such as waterfootprints (total volume of water used in an areato produce goods and services) and waterauditing (assessment of water use), need to bedeveloped. Continuous water balance and wateraccounting studies need to be conducted toimprove the effeciency of water use fromirrigation projects and river basins.
Project appraisals and environment impactassessment for water uses, particularly forindustrial projects, should include analyses of water footprints.
Water needs to be saved during irrigation.Methods to encourage water saving include,aligning cropping pattern with natural resourceendowments, micro irrigation (drip, sprinkler,etc.), automated irrigation operation, andevaporation-transpiration reduction. Canalseepage water can also be recycled throughconjunctive ground water use.
Small local level irrigation through small bunds,field ponds, agricultural and engineering methodsfor watershed development, need to beencouraged.
Users of water should be involved in monitoringthe pattern of water use if it is causing problemslike unacceptable depletion or building up of ground water, salinity, alkalinity etc.
For the pre-emptive and high priority uses of water,the principle of differential pricing may have to beretained. Other than these uses, water should beallocated and priced according to economic principles.
A Water Regulatory Authority should beestablished in each state. The authority will beresponsible for fixing and regulating the watertariff system and charges to be levied.
Water charges should be determined on avolumetric basis.
Recycle and reuse of water should be incentivizedthrough a properly planned tariff system.
Water Users Associations (WUA) should be givenstatutory powers to collect and retain a portion of water charges, manage the volumetric quantum of water allotted to them and maintain thedistribution system in their jurisdiction.
Conservation of river corridors,water bodies and infrastructure
Conservation of river corridors, water bodies andinfrastructure needs to be undertaken in aregulated and scientifically planned mannerthrough community participation.
Encroachments and diversion of water bodies anddrainage channels must not be allowed. Whereversuch diversions have taken place, they should berestored and maintained to the extent feasible.