Director UNESCO New Delhi Office and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka Although the total amount of water on Earth is generally assumed to have remained virtually constant, the rapid growth in population, together with the extension of irrigated agriculture and industrial development, are putting stress on the quality and quantity aspects of natural system. In the face of growing problems, society has begun to realize that it can no longer subscribe to a ‘use and discard’ philosophy – either with water resources or any other natural resources. Thus, as a contribution to solving world’s water problems, UNESCO began in 1965 the first worldwide programme of studies of the hydrological cycle, the International Hydrological Decade (IHD). The research programme was complemented by a major effort in the field of hydrological education and training. Conscious of the need to expand upon the efforts initiated during the International Hydrological Decade and further to the recommendations of Member States, UNESCO launched a long-term intergovernmental programme in 1975, the International Hydrological programme. Although IHP is basically a scientific and educational programme, UNESCO has been aware from outset of the need to direct its activities towards finding practical solutions to the world’s very real water resources problems. Under IHP Programmes of UNESCO New Delhi Office we are happy to collaborate with the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Ministry of Water Resources in educating the NGOs and other interested organizations in the country as well in the region through this guide on rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge. As you read this guide, seriously consider conserving the water by water harvesting and manage this natural resource by artificially recharging the system. The examples covering several dozen installations successfully operating in India constructed and maintained by CGWB, provide an excellent snapshot of current systems. In bringing out this guide, Dr. D.K. Chaddha, Chairman, Central Ground Water Board has played a key role and he deserves all appreciation. I would like to acknowledge UNESCO New Delhi Office staff Dr. R. Jayakumar for his help in compiling and editing this guide in the final form.

Prof. Moegiadi

The principle of collecting and using precipitation from a catchment surface. An old technology is gaining popularity in a new way. Rain water harvesting is enjoying a renaissance of sorts in the world, but it traces its history to biblical times. Extensive rain water harvesting apparatus existed 4000 years ago in the Palestine and Greece. In ancient Rome, residences were built with individual cisterns and paved courtyards to capture rain water to augment water from city's aqueducts. As early as the third millennium BC, farming communities in Baluchistan impounded rain water and used it for irrigation dames, build of stone rubble, were found in Baluchistan and Kutch in Gujarat in India.

Artificial recharge to ground water is a process by which the ground water reservoir is augmented at a rate exceeding that obtaining under natural conditions of replenishment. Any man-made scheme or facility that adds water to an aquifer may be considered to be an artificial recharge system.

Rain water harvesting is essential because:1. Surface water is inadequate to meet our demand and we have to depend on ground water.

2. Due to rapid urbanization, infiltration of rain water into the sub-soil has decreased drastically and recharging of ground water has diminished. 3. Over - exploitation of ground water resource has resulted in decline in water levels in most part of the country. 4. To enhance availability of ground water at specific place and time. 5. To arrest sea water ingress. 6. To improve the water quality in aquifers. 7. To improve the vegetation cover. 8. To raise the water levels in wells & bore wells that are drying up. 9. To reduce power consumption.

There are two main techniques of rain water harvesting.

a) Storage of rain water on surface for future use. b) Recharge to ground water.
The storage of rain water on surface is a traditional technique and structures used were underground tanks, ponds, check dams, weirs, etc. Recharge to ground water is a new concept of rain water harvesting and the structures generally used are:1. Pits:- Recharge pits are constructed for recharging the shallow aquifers. These are constructed 1 to 2 m. wide and 2 to 3 m. deep which are back filled with boulders, gravels & coarse sand.

2. Trenches:- These are constructed when the permeable strata is available at shallow depths. Trench may be 0.5 to 1 m. wide, 1 to 1.5 m. deep and 10 to 20 m. long depending upon availability of water. These are back filled with filter materials. 3. Dug wells:- Existing dug wells may be utilised as recharge structure and water should pass through filter media before putting into dug well. 4. Hand pumps:- The existing hand pumps may be used for recharging the shallow / deep aquifers, if the availability of water is limited. Water should pass through filter media before diverting it into hand pumps. 5. Recharge wells:- Recharge wells of 100 to 300 mm. diameter are generally constructed for recharging the deeper aquifers and water is passed through filter media to avoid choking of recharge wells. 6. Recharge Shafts:- For recharging the shallow aquifers which are located below clayey surface, recharge shafts of 0.5 to 3 m. diameter and 10 to 15 m. deep are constructed and back filled with boulders, gravels & coarse sand. 7. Lateral shafts with bore wells:- For recharging the upper as well as deeper aquifers lateral shafts of 1.5 to 2 m. wide & 10 to 30 m. long depending upon availability of water with one or two bore wells are constructed. The lateral shafts is back filled with boulders, gravels & coarse sand. 8. Spreading techniques:- When permeable strata starts from top then this technique is used. Spread the water in streams / Nalas by making check dams, nala bunds, cement plugs, gabion structures or a percolation pond may be constructed.

1. An ideal solution to water problems in areas having inadequate water resources. 2. The ground water level will rise. 3. Mitigates the effects of drought & achieves drought proofing. 4. Reduces the runoff which chokes the storm water drains. 5. Flooding of roads is reduced. 6. Quality of water improves. 7. Soil erosion will be reduced. 8. Saving of energy per well for lifting of ground water – a one meter rise in water level saves about 0.40 KWH of electricity.

The cost of each recharge structure varies from place to place. The approximate cost of the following structures are as under:S.No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Recharge Structure Recharge pit Recharge Trench Recharge through hand pump Recharge through dug well Recharge well Recharge shaft Lateral Shaft with Bore well Approximate cost (Indian Rupees) 2500 – 5000 5000 – 10000 1500 – 2500 5000 – 8000 50000 – 80000 60000 – 85000 Shaft per m. 2000 – 3000 Bore well 25000 - 35000

Artificial recharge techniques are adopted where:1. Adequate space for surface storage is not available especially in urban areas. 2. Water level is deep enough (> 8 m.) and adequate subsurface storage is available. 3. Permeable strata is available at shallow / moderate depth. 4. Where adequate quantity of surface water is available for recharge to ground water. 5. Ground water quality is bad and our aim is to improve it. 6. Where there is possibility of intrusion of saline water especially in coastal areas. 7. Where the evaporation rate is very high from surface water bodies. In other areas, rain water harvesting techniques may be adopted.

Check Dams This is a spreading technique of rain water harvesting implemented in JNU & IIT area of Delhi. The recharge through 4 check dams has been 76000 cum with a rise in water level from 1 to 13.7 m.

Percolation Tanks It is also a spreading technique of rain water harvesting, and is implemented in Maharashtra.


In Jalgaon district, the recharge through 6 percolation tanks is about 681 Thousand Cubic Meter (TCM) with a rise in water level from 1 - 5 m. The benefited area is 545 hectare. In Amravati district, the recharge through 3 percolation tanks has been about 298 TCM with a rise in water level from 4-10 m. it has benefited an area of about 280 hectare.


Cement Plugs Artificial recharge through 10 cement plugs in Amravati district, Maharashtra has been about 47 TCM with a rise in water level from 0.5 to 4 m. and benefited area of 86 – 105 hectare.

Sub Surface Dykes Sub surface dykes are suitable for valley and streams where:1. Base flow is available for longer duration in the stream. 2. Impervious layer exists at shallow depth. In order to harness the ground water that was flowing from a small nala, a sub surface dyke of 160 m. length and 5 m. deep has been constructed by using plasterd brick and tar felt sheets in the State Seed farm Ananganadi. This has shown a considerable increase in availability of ground water in upstream side. Another sub surface dyke of 80 m. length and 8 m. deep has been constructed in Kerala Agriculture University by using plastered bricks and LDP sheets. There has been a considerable rise of water level in upstream side.


Injection well This technique has been tested at various places such as:Recharge through injection well in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra has been about 3.8 TCM with a benefited area of 0.75 hectare. Recharge through 2 injection wells in IIT Delhi has been 830 cum with a rise in water level from 0.29 to 0.87 m and benefited area of 1 hectare. At CSIO, Chandigarh, the recharge through injection well has been 3794 cum with 2 m. rise in water level.


Recharge Shafts The recharge through 2 shafts in Jalgaon district has been 12 TCM with a benefited area of 4.7 hectare.

Dug Wells This technique has been employed in Maharashtra and Delhi. The additional recharge to ground water in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra has been 6.6 TCM with a benefited area of 1.3 hectare. In President’s Estate, Delhi, the rise in water level upto 2.58 m. has been noticed through this technique.

Lateral Shaft with bore wells This technique has been employed in Shram Shakti Bhawan, Delhi. Ae rise in water level from 1.43 to 2.15 m. has been recorded.

Some more designs of Artificial Recharge Structures

Artificial Recharge-Shaft cum Injection Well

Gabion Structure

Recharge Through Trench

Recharge Pit

Shaft with Borewell

Nala Bund

Brahm Sarovar, Kurukshetra

Recharge Pit

For further technical information and inputs please contact: Dr. D. K. Chadha Chairman Central Ground Water Board Jamnagar House, Mansingh Road New Delhi-110011 Tel: 011- 3383561 Fax: 011- 3386743 Email: or Dr. R. JayaKumar United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Unesco House 8, Poorvi Marg Vasant Vihar New Delhi-110057 Tel: 011- 6140038/39,7310, 6146308 Fax: 011 - 6143351, 6142714 Email: