In an attempt to address the water issues at large, Team JalBharat is interacting with people from different parts of the country who are in the water industry and striving hard to conserve water.
Recently, we had the opportunity of interacting with Biplob Chatterjee from Geovale services who took us through the exceptional work they have been doing for years on Groundwater exploration.
Tell us something about the water management services Geovale is offering at global level?
Geovale Services Pvt Ltd (Geovale) is a company in planetary-science domain comprising of passionate professionals, who possess requisite expertise and confidence to deliver world class services. The mission of Geovale Services is to create benchmarks for world class services and sustainable solutions for the Earth Science domain including exploration, mining, hydrology and hydrogeology, Geo-technical using geospatial technology etc. For more information related to Geovale offerings click here.
Having understood what a hydrogeologist does, what it takes to become one?
A person is required to have a good understanding of geology with masters in hydrogeology from a reputed University (like Ravishankar University, and technical institutes like IIT, ISM etc. One should be able to customise and use his knowledge to figure out solutions on ground. He should gain working experience under expert supervision in various landscapes.
From ground water exploration to ground water exploitation where do you think it has all gone wrong?
Groundwater is the largest liquid source of freshwater which, along with soil moisture, surface water bodies such as lakes and rivers and snow and ice, comprises all the freshwater available on Earth. India is not a water poor country but due to growing human population, severe neglect and over-exploitation of this resource, water is becoming a scarce commodity. While this is a growing concern all over the world, India is the most vulnerable because of the growing demand and in-disciplined lifestyle. This calls for immediate attention by the stakeholders to make sustainable use of the available water resources to ensure better quality of lives.
Groundwater is considered to be the largest source of freshwater along with soil moisture and surface water bodies such as lakes, rivers, swamp, snow and ice, among all the source of freshwater available on Earth. However, in India, the availability of surface water is greater than ground water but in some areas, agriculture/irrigation is dependent on groundwater. It has been recorded that about 89% of ground water extracted is used in the irrigation sector. Experts believe that India is fast moving towards a crisis of ground water overuse and contamination. The northern and eastern India emerged as major hotspots of groundwater depletion mainly because of overexploitation for irrigation as these regions experienced erratic rainfall due to the changing climate. It has been observed that the Indo-Gangetic Plains have been hit by more droughts due to changing climate and as a result has witnessed crisis in the surface water.
The surface as well as the groundwater recharge occurs maximum during the monsoons but due to erratic rainfall and other anthropogenic reasons, the proper recharge of the surface and groundwater is not occurring. Therefore, the need of the hour is to conserve groundwater by using water judiciously else, there will be a zero water day in India like Capetown, South Africa.
There is going to be a severe crisis looming for water by 2030. As an expert in the industry, what’s the possible way out?
India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and around 600 million people face a severe water shortage, according to a government think tank. Approximately 200,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to clean water and it’s “only going to get worse” as 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020. The following adaptation strategies have to be taken up to combat ground water crisis situation:
- Drip irrigation
- Rain water harvesting
- Restoring and maintaining our water bodies
- Mandatory Water recycling in all the apartments, industries and textiles.
- Reusing the waste water from RO. During RO purification process nearly 70% water gets wasted. We can store and reuse it.
- Creating social awareness among the people about effective usage of water.
- Revolutionize the agriculture practise.
- Use of IOT.
- Walk us through some of your recent achievements in the areas of ground water development.
Watershed management in Upper Bhavani Basin, Coimbatore:
The Upper Bhavani watershed has been extensively dammed for irrigation and hydropower generation and groundwater aquifers are under tremendous pressure due to increasing agricultural, habitation and industrial demand. Therefore, to rejuvenate the watershed GEOVALE has carried out studies like: –
- A regional scale hydro-geological mapping of the Upper Bhavani basin highlighting the status of groundwater resources availability, withdrawals, recharge, potential areas for recharge, future trends etc.
- High level, regional scale assessment of surface-groundwater interactions, identifying and mapping of major influent-effluent streams/stretches.
- Estimation of base-flows in the Upper Bhavani river and its tributaries.
- Develop an indicative aquifer management plan for the Upper Bhavani basin with focus on the priority areas.
- To provide inputs related to baseflows management in the overall strategy for maintaining environmental flows in the Upper Bhavani river and its tributaries.
The recommendations including effective, collaborative natural resource management are 1) commitment to a collaborative approach at multiple levels is present; 2) capacity exists at multiple levels; 3) accountability measures are incorporated; 4) coordinating structures that manage and sustain productive interaction are present; and 5) long-term perspectives and adaptive management approaches have been adopted.
Water security study for a large resort and golf course and micro-watershed management for community social responsibilities in Manesar, Gurgaon
A famous resort and golf course have wanted to map their water balance, sustainable ways of groundwater exploitation and conservation practices as the water level has been depleted more than 30m in last 10 years. Also, as part of their CSR practices, GEOVALE was engaged to prepare a DPR for the micro-watershed where the large resort and golf course is located. Geovale has successfully meet the project goals through number of highly scientific research and experiments within scheduled 5 months’ timeline. The key stages were-
- Understanding of geology, hydrogeology and geomorphology by carrying out detailed mapping in different techniques.
- Remote sensing application to assess the entire hydrological regime, watershed analysis
- Aquifer characterization and exploitation scheduling by considering the interference effect of cone of depression.
- Numerical groundwater flow modeling by MoDflow.
- Detailed topographical survey by Total Station and RTK, Infiltration Tests etc. to identify the best locations and designs for rainwater harvesting structures.
- Technical audit of existing interventions and recommendations for improvement.
- Baseline study, crop water assessment, community-based recommendations for water conservation practices.
- From your water auditing reports, which city or state is running at danger levels in-terms of water quality or availability. And, what kind of measures have been taken to get better of the situation.
Progressive IT sector boom and corresponding growth of 10x population in last 20 years, rapid expansion of geographical extent, concrete constructions over reclaimed natural ground water recharge areas, informal settlements and slums, poor segregation and management of sewage and industrial effluents and storm water, indiscriminate borewell drilling and pumping and corresponding rapid decline in ground water table, all these characterize the urban water scenario of Bangalore and many other cities in India. All these also point towards poor urban development planning and abject mismanagement at a corporation level as well. The city of Bangalore faces enormous pressure on water availability and security. Complicating all of above is the apparent Climate Change manifestation in terms of erratic rainfall, which could potentially lead to a Cape Town type ‘Day Zero’ for Bangalore`s water availability.
Considering a potential Day Zero, Bangalore city must rework its water balance urgently. Rainwater harvesting should be a priority to both, replace the aquifer supply and to rejuvenate the aquifers. Wastewater recycling and reuse should be a priority both, at a decentralized level in the gated communities and at a centralized level to mitigate contamination of Bangalore’s water bodies. Cauvery water supply losses have to be brought down significantly. Aquifer rejuvenation would require a high-resolution mapping of the fracture-controlled ground water conduits within the Archean Peninsular Gneissic Complex, detailed aquifer characterization and a focused long-term recharge effort. We would recommend using sensor-based technologies and Internet of Things (IOT) for creating a centralized water demand – supply control at a sub-municipal level. Urban citizenry would require to culturally evolve to start valuing water more and learn to optimize water use.
Tell us something about watershed management and why it is important for every one of us to know.
A watershed as the geographical area drained by a watercourse, and watershed management as any human action aimed at ensuring a sustainable use of watershed resources. These resources are dealt with through an integrated ecosystem approach centred on the understanding of the overall interactions between biotic (including humans) and abiotic factors. Inequalities among communities in terms of their socio-economic status and their access to water and other resources and services as a consequence of their geographical location are best addressed at the watershed level.
Watershed management provides a framework for understanding and reconciling the interconnections among various land-use systems and for collaborative action and decision-making in the face of competing claims on resources, especially water resources. Watershed management programmes have emerged as an appropriate strategy to manage natural resources (land, water and forests) and to provide sustainable livelihood to the rural poor. It is a holistic concept which tries to integrate several components like soil and water conservation, forestry development, agriculture, horticulture, livestock development etc. It has led to several dimensions of sustainable development, e.g. ecological sustainability (check in soil erosion, check in rate of silting, groundwater recharge etc.), economic sustainability (increase in crop intensity and crop productivity, milk production, etc.) and social sustainability, (equitable distribution of common property resources like water, forest produce and ensuring peoples’ participation.10 The principal reasons to take watershed management as a holistic task for the development of mankind.
What are the challenges you commonly face to address?
The major challenge that we have been dealing is that majority of the people does not have any idea about the science of hydrogeology and its role in managing the groundwater. In many cases, people don’t understand the concept of global commons. Water is a natural resource which is considered to be a global common and there are certain internationally accepted laws that has to be followed while consuming/managing it. There are no specific policies for sustainable management of this water and this is due to the lack of awareness among the common people.
If there is one appeal you want to make it for the citizens of the nation, what would that be?
The goal 6 of sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of the United Nations is Clean Water and Sanitation. This SDG aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. By definition, it means “leaving no one behind”. Keeping in mind that fresh water, available for our daily use is finite resource should be used judiciously. The Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people without any discrimination, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.