National mission to try out mapping of deep aquifers

BHUBANESHWAR — In a first of its kind initiative, India will undertake mapping of deep aquifers — the underground layers of water-bearing rocks — to identify the quantum of water available as part of plans to formulate an effective and integrated water resources management.

The initiative would form a key component of the National Water Mission to be implemented in the coming 12th five-year plan, the head of research coordination and management unit of the Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology Dr V C Goyal told the ongoing 99th Indian Science Congress.

Making a presentation on “Science and Technology for water security in Indian context,” Dr Goyal said that the exploration of deep aquifers had assumed significance in the wake of the need to adopt a holistic approach to water resources management. The aquifer mapping would facilitate the formulation of strategies for a more effective groundwater management. So far, the country’s groundwater management has not included aquifer mapping.

Aquifers are rocks spread across different areas that are capable of allowing accumulation and movement of groundwater so that sufficient quantities are available to wells and springs. Mapping of aquifers can help determine the quantity and quality of groundwater in a particular area and whether it is contaminated by pathogens, iron, arsenic, fluoride and other such elements. The mapping of aquifers also includes precisely locating their natural recharge and discharge areas. The information would help in developing a strategy of groundwater management for the region.

As part of the National Water Mission, water auditing would also be taken up for effective utilisation of the scarce resource, Dr Goyal said, and called for shifting the present focus from water resources development to water resources management and application of modern technologies for conservation and re-use.

“We need to come out of the business-as-usual attitude to water sector and address the issue of water shortage in a more integrated manner involving multi-disciplinary approach,” he said. There was a potential for re-use of 80 per cent of the water being utilised by the domestic sector and 65 per cent in case of industries while 95 to 98 per cent of the water that goes into power generation could be re-used, the scientist said.

He said that there was a need for a more pro-active approach to adopt technology-based solutions in the areas of water saving in agriculture, rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, wastewater treatment and desalination.

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