Emerging groundwater crisis in urban areas – A case study of Bangalore city

Urbanisation and its toll on the groundwater recharge; Bangalore losing in the bargain

The paper by the Institute for Social and Economic Change documents the case of Ward No. 39 situated at the outskirts of the Bangalore city to understand the emerging groundwater crisis due to overdraft in urban areas. Bangalore has no perennial river, which resulted in the growth of many lakes, acting as a source of groundwater recharge earlier.

Currently, following rapid urbanization, these lakes have vanished and have been converted into residential and commercial localities. Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), an organization responsible for providing water supply and sewerage system has implemented Cauvery Water Supply Schemes in four stages.  

The study makes the following observations and provides these suggestions for groundwater management –

  • There has been a demand-supply gap in surface water supply. The usage of groundwater has decreased with the introduction of surface water supply; however, this varies among different areas and consumption patterns.
  • It was not possible to estimate the exact quantities of surface and groundwater used as in majority of the houses, both the surface and groundwater are stored in the same sump or tank.  
  • Since groundwater is highly vulnerable and important resource it is essential to understand the environmental implications of over exploitation.
  • Alternative arrangements can be made where group wells could be encouraged to save costs. It would be important to make recharging groundwater mandatory. Focus should be on reducing drilling of tube wells by providing options to the consumers in terms of better management of water resources. 
  • Rainwater harvesting is the need of the hour and the city’s revised Master Plan 2015 recommends rainwater harvesting to be made compulsory for buildings beyond 2400 Sq ft. The BWSSB should offer an economic incentive to people who consume less piped water.
  • Creating awareness through campaigns on water conservation through mass media communication is vital.

The study concludes by recommending the setting up of a taskforce exclusively to regulate water supplies for both surface and groundwater sources. This taskforce may come up with clear guidelines to govern the water resources, its utilisation mechanisms, regulating the use, maintaining its quality and ensuring efficient use of available resources (fresh and reuse of wastewater, roof water harvesting) for sustainable use of natural resources. The taskforce would be helpful to coordinate with all relevant departments and evolve strategies and guidelines covering the entire urban district area.  

Download the report here:


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