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Report on Depleting Ground Water in Delhi/NCR by Srijeet Halder

Report on Depleting Ground Water in Delhi/NCR by Srijeet Halder

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Published by Sreesh Halder
Contrary to popular believe, water is not endless.
Contrary to popular believe, water is not endless.

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Published by: Sreesh Halder on Jun 16, 2013
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A Report On




October, 2011


I would like to thank all the people who supported me on this report. Firstly, I acknowledge a deep sense of gratitude to Ms.ParinitaSinha who motivated us to work on this kind of a report and taught us the important aspects of a good technicalreport.

I sincerely thank to my friends and class-mates who always stood beside me while I was working on my report. I am thankful to my batch-mates who also shared their knowledge with me which helped me a lot in writing this report. And last but not the least my parents who provided me a good atmosphere at home and motivated me at every step. And “ Delhi Technological University ” for providing me the proper education regarding the field.


Table of contents
Abstract………………………………………………………... 1 Summary………………………………………………………. 2 Introduction…………………………………………………… 3 Some Basic Information about Groundwater……………….. 5
-What is Groundwater…………………………………….. 5

-Causes of Water Scarcity………………………………………. 9 -What a stress?...................................................................... 11 -Impact and Consequences of OverdrawingGroundwater:… 11

-Falling Water Tables and Depletion -Diminishing Surface Water -Land Subsidence

12 13 13

Conclusions…………………………………………………… 15 Recommendations……………………………………………. 16 Bibliography…………………………………………………...18

With the water table in the national capital depleting rapidly, ground water supplies in Delhi are likely to run dry in next nine years, a report published in a recent bulletin of Harvard business school said. "with their huge population, china and India are especially susceptible to these water stresses. Ground water supplies in Delhi are expected to run dry by 2015 ," the report on the global water crisis said. The demand for water to sustain and feed the world's people is projected to double by 2025, it said. Another report by the centre for science and environment said things would have been better if ground water had not been over exploited. The national capital has been witnessing a huge gap between demand and supply of water, it said adding the city, with over 15 million population, requires about 3,324 million litres per day (mld) water but gets only 2,034 mld. “ This means more than 10 billion litres net of groundwater is extracted each day from the grounds of Delhi and NCR. ”

“Delhi’s ground water to be dry by 2015”

 Groundwater development in the country has expanded significantly in the past few decades. Overexploitation of the resource in certain parts of the country has led to rapid decline in water table. This has begun to threaten not only the food security of the country, but also theenvironment. Further, depletion of groundwater resource has been hurting the small and marginal farmers the most, threatening their livelihood in many cases. The problem is getting intensified and more widespread over the years.  Water is abundant on this planet, but fresh water or usable water is very scarce. This resource, just like any other, needs to be managed and prevented from over-use.  Water scarcity is a collective consequence of many causes including population explosion, industrialisation, and misuse of water.  Complete groundwater extinction may result into unavailability of water, droughts, diminishing surface water, land subsidence and water war .  There is a need of water management both from private sector as well as public sector and the general public.  Authorities need to monitor extraction of groundwater by private parties, in this city.

Water war: Also called Water conflict is a term describing a conflict between countries, states, or groups over an access to water resources.

About 60 per cent of aquifers in India will be in a critical condition in another 15 years if the trend of indiscriminate exploitation of ground water continues, the World Bank has said in a report.

Groundwater is the second largest reserve of freshwater on earth. It also makes up 40% of the freshwater used in the India alone. Groundwater is found within underground aquifers in the "zone of saturation". A zone of saturation is located where water fills in all of the spaces that are in the lower layers of soil. The water table is located at the top of the zone of saturation. These aquifers need to be recharged by rainwater and other water sources. The recharge rate is slow. In many areas groundwater is being removed from the aquifer faster than it can be replenished. When groundwater is depleted, the effects on the landscape and the people are drastic. "Cones of depression" can be formed if too much water is drawn out of a water table without letting it recharge. A cone of depression is where the water table sinks in an area that has been heavily pumped, creating a large area that has sunken. "Sinkholes" may also form when an underground cavern or channel collapses and creates a crater in the earth‟s surface. Another danger is that aquifers that are located near coastlines can experience saltwater intrusion, where saltwater mixes with fresh water from the aquifer, rendering the water unusable. In the end, heavy pumping of groundwater depletes aquifers until there is little or no fresh water available to those who depend upon it. In its latest report on the country‟s ground water level, the “World Bank” has expressed concern over the rate of depletion of water table in the country and has called for immediate corrective measures. Around 29 per cent of ground water blocks in the country are semi-critical, critical or overexploited and the situation is deteriorating rapidly. By 2025, an estimated 60 per cent of ground water blocks will be in a critical condition. Climate change will further strain ground water resources, the report said.

India is the largest user of ground water in the world, with an estimated use of 230 cubic km of ground water every year––more than a quarter of the global level. Now, ground water supports around 60 per cent of irrigated agriculture and more than 80 per cent of rural and urban water supplies.

Some Basic Information about Groundwater
What is groundwater?
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock become completely saturated with water is called the water table. Groundwater is recharged from, and eventually flows to, the surface naturally; natural discharge often occurs at springs and seeps, and can form oases or wetlands. Groundwater is stored in subsurface void spaces below the water table. The geologic material that stores, transmits, and yields groundwater to wells and springs is called an aquifer. The key word here is yields. To be an aquifer, it must store and transmit water at rates fast enough to supply reasonable amounts to wells and springs. Therefore, not all groundwater is stored in an aquifer.

Do you think water is abundant on earth??

Statistics show that though 75% of earth‟s surface is covered with water, but only 2.5% of the total water is fresh water, or consumable.

So, here arises the main problem.

Now it is very clear that water is, not at all, kind of a resource which is in infinite amount. It also needs judiciary usage and conservation and optimum utilisation.

The bar chart above shows the difference between the demand of water resources for varied purposes such as irrigation, domestic, industrial etc. and its actual supply. There is approx. 18 per cent gap between demand and supply which attracts concerns of many scientists and hydrologists.

As the above statistical data published by „Central Ground Water Board Ministry of Water Resource, Government of India‟, shows that the rate of discharge of ground water is much higher than the rate of recharge in Delhi in comparison to any other state in India.

Causes of water scarcity

1) Population growth followed by increased water consumption
"In India…the pumping of underground water is now estimated to be double the rate of aquifer recharge from rainfall. The International Water Management Institute, the world's premier water research group, estimates that India's grain harvest could be reduced by up to one fourth as a result of aquifer depletion. In a country adding 18 million people per year, this is not good news." (Lester R. Brown and Brian Halweil POPULATIONS OUTRUNNING WATER SUPPLY AS WORLD HITS 6 BILLION www.worldwatch.org/alerts/990923.html)

2) Over exploitation of the ground water
"One of the biggest hurdles in addressing the problems related to ground water shortage is that replenishment of groundwater and augmentation of water supplies is primarily the state government‟s responsibility. Ground water exploitation has gone unchecked over the last decade which has now forced the Central Ground Water Authority to advise the state governments to take measures to check over-exploitation of ground water". (http://www.financialexpress.com/fe20010427/an1.html)

3) Urbanisation and industrialisation
"In addition to population growth, urbanisation and industrialisation also expand the demand for water. As developing country villagers, traditionally reliant on the village well, move to urban high-rise apartment buildings with indoor plumbing, their residential water use can easily triple. Industrialisation takes even more water than urbanisation." "Some 70 per cent of the water consumed worldwide, including both that diverted from rivers and that pumped from underground, is used for irrigation, while some 20 per cent is used by industry, and 10 per cent for residential purposes. In the increasingly intense competition for water among sectors, agriculture almost always loses. The 1,000 tons of water used in India to produce one ton of wheat worth perhaps $200 (Rs. 10,000) can also be used to expand industrial output by $10,000 (Rs. 5,00,000), or 50 times as much. This ratio helps explain why, in the American West, the sale of irrigation water rights by farmers to cities is an almost daily occurrence." (THE HINDU, Sunday, August 05, 2001)

4) Increasing water pollution
"The most common method of disposal of solid municipal waste in India is by deposition in landfills. In order to minimise the impact of such landfills on groundwater quality and the environment in general it is necessary to properly design and build these facilities to prevent pollution and put in place strict management controls to ensure they are operated correctly. Unfortunately this is rarely done as few towns and industries in the country make the necessary effort to ensure that their solid waste is treated or disposed of in a proper manner. ( http://wrmin.nic.in/problems/pb_faced.htm)

What a stress?
According to a World Bank study, of the 27 Asian cities with populations of over 1,000,000, “Chennai and Delhi are ranked as the worst performing metropolitan cities in terms of hours of water availability per day”, while Mumbai is ranked as second worst performer and Calcutta fourth worst (Source: Background Paper - International Conference on New Perspectives on Water for Urban & Rural India - 18-19 September, 2001, New Delhi.) Delhi: The nation's capital is perpetually in the grip of a water crisis, more so during the dry season, when the situation gets particularly worse. As the demandsupply gap widens, more groundwater is being exploited. Of the water supplied by the municipality, approximately 11 per cent comes from groundwater reserves and remaining from the Yamuna river. It is, however, difficult to establish the total quantity of groundwater extracted because a large number of tubewells (owned by individuals, industries and bottled water companies) remain unregistered.

Impact and Consequences of Overdrawing Groundwater:
"Adverse effect in this context can include depletion of the groundwater reserves (groundwater level decline), intrusion of water of undesirable quality, impacts to existing water rights, higher extraction costs, subsidence, depletion of streamflow, and environmental impacts. Historically, additional extraction from a groundwater basin above the safe yield value has been called overdraft. Overdraft is defined in Bulletin 118-80 as "the condition of a groundwater basin where the amount of water withdrawn exceeds the amount of water replenishing the basin over a period of time." To augment supplies of high-quality fresh water humans have increasingly turned to groundwater, and advances in drilling and pumping technology have made it convenient and economical to do so. In groundwater taping a large but not

unlimited natural reservoir. Its sustainability ultimately depends on balancing withdrawals with rates of recharge.

Falling Water Tables and Depletion:
(Some past results in cities around the world where water table depletedand culminated in serious damages to land, ecology and environment.)

Rates of groundwater recharge aside, however the simple indication that groundwater withdrawals are exceeding recharge is a falling water table, a situation that is common throughout the world. A prime example is the Great Plains region of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. In the past 40 years, the water table has dropping rapidly and has dropped about 30 m (100ft) and is lowering at 2m per year. Irrigated farming has already come to a halt in some sections, and it is predicted that over the next 10 years another 3.5 million acres (1.4 million ha) in this region will be abandoned or converted to dryland farming (ranching and production of forage crops) because of water depletion.

Although running out of water is the obvious eventual conclusion of overdrawing groundwater, falling water table have other consequences before the water is entirely depleted.

Diminishing Surface Water:
Surface waters are also affected by falling water tables. In various wetlands, for instance, the water table is essentially at or slightly above the ground surface. Dropping water tables results in such a wetlands drying up, with the ecological results described earlier. Further, as water tables drop springs and seeps dry up, diminishing streams and rivers even to the point of dryness. Thus, excessive groundwater removal leads to the same effects as diversion of surface water.

Land Subsidence:
Over the ages, groundwater has leached cavities in the Earth. Where these spaces are filled with water, the water helps support the overlying rock and soil, but as the water table drops, this support is lost. Then there may be a gradual settling of the land, a phenomenon known as land Subsidence. The rate of sinking may be 6-12 inches (10-15 cm) per year. In the some areas of the San Joaquin Valley in California, land has as much as 27 feet (9m) because of groundwater removal. Land subsidence causes building crack. In the coastal area, subsidence causing flooding where a 4000 square mile (10,000 km2) are in the Houston-Galveston Bay region of Texas is gradually sinking because of groundwater removal, coastal properties are being abandoned as they gradually are inundated by the sea. Land subsidence is also a serious problem in New Orleans, sections of Arizona, Mexico City, and many other places throughout the world.

So finally we arrive at the conclusions that groundwater under the feet of the capital city is drying up fast. Calculations say that just in 9 years all the water inside the grounds of Delhi is going to be sucked up. But what happens when the Delhi’s groundwater is finally finished? About 40% of Delhi’s water needs are satiated by its own groundwater extractions. No groundwater means persistent droughts and unavailability of water in various parts of the city. Irrigation and industrial processes will be put on halt for an indefinite period. Not only that, surface cracks and damaged pavements will be common. If you think this is the worst that is to be followed. Then take a look on this graph.

It tells that strength of soil below a foundation is decreased significantly if the water in it completely dries up.

This means buildings that appear safe now, will be brought upon a catastrophic failure due to reduction in strength of the soil supporting its foundations. Delhi shelters approx. 1.1 crore people, mostly migrants from other states who came in search for better employment opportunities. No one could imagine the havoc in his wildest of the wildest dreams that would be created, if we don’t act right now.

Among its several suggestions to prevent over exploitation and promote sustainable use of ground water, the report calls for community management of ground water wherein the user community is the primary custodian of ground water and is charged with implementing management measures. Another technical method of enhancing the amount of water in the ground is: Artificial Recharge The artificial recharge to ground water aims at augmentation of ground water reservoir by modifying the natural movement of surface water utilizing suitable civil construction techniques. Artificial recharge techniques normally address to following issues (i) (ii) To enhance the sustainable yield in areas where over-development has depleted theaquifer. Conservation and storage of excess surface water for future requirements, since these requirements often changes within a season or a period. To improve the quality of existing ground water through dilution. To remove bacteriological and other impurities from sewage and waste water so that water is suitable for re-use.

(iii) (iv)

The basic purpose of artificial recharge of ground water is to restore supplies from aquifers depleted due to excessive ground water development.

An important way of addressing the issueis by augmenting groundwater supplies in shallowaquifers. Artificial recharge of groundwater hasbeen found to be a useful tool. A recharge schemeimplemented by the Government of India indifferent parts of the country showed rechargingcan be made much more effective by the use ofscientific inputs and analyses than otherwise. Itmay however be noted that even if the entirepotential of recharge is utilised, shortage will stillpersist, underscoring the need for limitingextraction.

Yet another option is to tap the huge“static‟ water reserves in deeper aquifers, whichhave hitherto been untapped. This is not an easyoption, as it requires detailed scientific studies toexamine its long-term viability, impact on otheraquifers and abundant caution in extraction. Theupshot is that there is no substitute for limitingextraction to sustainable levels. Rainwater Harvesting Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses and local institutions can make an important contribution to the availability of drinking water. It can supplement the subsoil water level and increase urban greenery. Whether to store rainwater or use it for recharge:
The decision whether to store or recharge water depends on the rainfall pattern and the potential to do so, in a particular region. The sub-surface geology also plays an important role in making this decision. For example, Delhi, Rajasthan and Gujarat where the total annual rainfall occurs during 3 or 4 months, are examples of places where groundwater recharge is usually practiced. In places like Kerala, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu and Bangalore where rain falls throughout the year barring a few dry periods, one can depend on a small sized tank for storing rainwater, since the period between two spells of rain is short. Wherever sub-strata is impermeable recharging will not be feasible. Hence, it would be ideal to opt for storage.

Concluding this report author wants to say that this is a disaster which man has brought upon himself. We are just like the serviceman who spent his salary before the month ends. We are consuming our resources much faster than we should.

        Lester R. Brown and Brian Halweil,"POPULATIONS OUTRUNNING WATER SUPPLY AS WORLD HITS 6 BILLION" - <www.worldwatch.org/alerts/990923.html> ExpressIndia.com, Delhi’s ground water to be dry by 2015,22 March, 2006<http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=64731> Deccan Herald, India’s ground water table to dry up in 15 years, 7 March, 2011 <http://www.deccanherald.com/content/56673/indias-ground-water-table-dry.html> CENTRAL GROUND WATER BOARD MINISTRY OF WATER RESOURCES GUIDE, ARTIFICIAL RECHARGE TO GROUND WATER, May 2011, <http://cgwb.gov.in/documents/Guide_on_ArtificialRecharge.pdf> Len Abrams, The Water Page, May 2003, <http://www.africanwater.org/drought_water_scarcity.htm> Central Ground Water Board Ministry of Water Resources Government of India, Faridabad, "Ground Water Scenario of India2009-10", June2010<http://www.cgwb.gov.in/documents/Ground%20Water%20Year%20Book%20200910.pdf> http://www.saiguru.net/english/news/030812water.htm http://www.grailresearch.com/pdf/ContenPodsPdf/Water-The_India_Story.pdf http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/WORMKA/ Official report from Planning Commission of Indiahttp://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/rep_grndwat.pdf Groundwater situation in urban India: Overview, Opportunities and Challenges By Ankit Patel Consultant, IWMI-Tata Water Policy Programme, Anand, India Sunderrajan Krishnan Post-doctoral fellow, IWMI, Anand, India - http://nrlp.iwmi.org/PDocs/DReports/Phase_01/16.%20Groundwater%20situtation%20in%20U rban%20India%20-%20Sundararajan%20et%20al.pdf Real Statistics provided by India Meteorological Department - <http://www.imd.gov.in/>

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