Geo-hydrological studies for augmentation of spring discharge in the Western Himalaya – Final technical report by the MOWR

This study examines the geomorphological and anthropogenic influence in the spring recharge zones on spring water quality and discharge

 It is an attempt to understand the effect of rainfall, physiography, lithology, slope and aspect, land use practices, vegetation, altitude, soil type and anthropogenic interference (e.g., road construction and settlement etc.) and other characteristics in the spring recharge zone on the water yield and water quality of the selected springs in the mid-altitudinal belt (lesser Himalaya) in western Himalaya (Uttaranchal).

The objectives of the study were -

  • Characterization of spring on the basis of geohydrological and geomorphological features in the selected areas of western Himalaya.
  • Identification of recharge zone characteristics conducive to spring discharge particularly during lean months.
  • To suggest measures for conservation and augmentation of spring discharge to the user community and those involved in drinking water program in the region.

The study area is vast, but an attempt has been made to locate some representative springs that could represent the range of recharge zone characteristics in the study area. Some of the findings of the study are –

  • These springs represented all variety of topography, altitude, geology, rock types, catchment area, land use and land cover and anthropogenic influence in the spring recharge zone).
  • At the high altitude site the annual rainfall was recorded 1347 mm, out of which about 55% was occurred in the rainy season (July – September).
  • All the springs are located in the metasedimentary and sedimentary rocks of the western Himalaya.
  • In the spring recharge area the soil depth was found ranging from 45 - 90 cm. It was divided into two - five soil profiles across the springs. Soils of various stages were found across the soil horizons: very fine black soil, fine soil, medium grain soil, very coarse grain soil and coarse grain soil with angular fragments.
  • The soil pH ranged from 5.51 (Kamera spring) to 7.37 (Chatwapipal spring). The soil moisture ranged from a minimum of 6% (Teendhara spring) to 62% (Maithana spring). Water holding capacity (WHC) across the two soil depths varied between 33% in Bhaktiyana and 66% in Gulabrai spring.
  • Spring water studies revealed that some springs (viz., Bhaktiyana, Batula, Karas) were characterized by high water yield (205 – 293 x 105L/Yr). Some of them (viz., Kothar, Gulabrai, Chatwapipal) had a moderate water yield (132 – 187 x 105 L/Yr) and the rest of the springs recorded a low water yield (40 – 90 x 105 L/Yr). The mean daily water yield across the springs was found ranging from 5205 – 110765 L/D.
  • The water discharge behavior of springs showed the structural control over the discharge of these springs. Such a phenomenon was clearly recorded for Joshimath, Kamera, Teendhara and Bhaktiyana springs.
  • With regard to the water quality standards for drinking water all the springs were well within the desirable range of different physico-chemical characteristics as has been set by Bureau of Indian standards and World Health Organization.
  • In this study an understanding of the relationship between spring water yield, water quality and recharge area characteristics hold applied value with regard to long-term water conservation strategies in this region where people depend mostly on springs for fresh water. Besides geology, land use/land cover and level of biotic interference emerged as one of the controlling factors for the spring discharge.
  • This investigation was able to suggest the recharge zone characteristics ideal for spring discharge and water augmentation in the springs.

It is expected that results of this study would be useful for both researchers and extension workers in the field of hydrology in general, and planning augmentation of water for drinking and other household consumption in particular.


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