Request for input and partners - Dugwell recharge research program by CAREWATER

As a response to water stress in hard rock areas of the country,

Guest post on the Portal by Sunderrajan Krishnan, CAREWATER, (Center for Action, Research and Education on Water), www.carewater.org . === As a response to water stress in hard rock areas of the country, the Government of India has designed the Artificial Programme on Dug Well Recharge aimed at rejuvenating hard rock aquifers across the country. The idea is to divert rainfall runoff into open wells as a means of harvesting rainfall runoff and increasing recharge into aquifers. Currently as of April 2009, the program is underway in a couple of states, mainly in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, and other states are following suit. The program is ambitious in the sense that it aims to bring in millions of dug well owning farmers towards recharging. How will such a program be implemented, monitored and channeled so that the results are achieved to satisfaction? CAREWATER has designed a network of partners and is conducting studies to understand Dug well recharge and providing feedbacks to this national programme on artificial dug well recharge. Towards this purpose, since September 2008 we have created a partner base of organizations who along with our expertise are carrying out ground studies and analysis. Some of these results are available now on our website http://www.carewater.org (Please click on the link at the bottom of the homepage). We hope to keep updating this page as the program continues and wish to have more partners join our endeavor. In particular we have published a study of dug well recharge. The study is summarized below. We would like a larger discussion of the results of the study. Your comments below will be very useful to take this project forward more effectively.

We also invite more partners to join this initiative. By "partner", we would ideally like an organization which is either implementing well recharge or is participating in the govt well recharge program (or would like to do either of these). We would like the partner to develop into a resource organization in the future for the particular area (maybe district) where they are working on issues concerning well recharge. We plan to conduct in the future, research in partnership with such an organization and use the results to efficiently conduct well recharge. We can be reached at carewater@gmail.com Dugwell recharge paper : Click here to the the full dugwell recharge paper Abstract of the paper:Groundwater exploitation in hard rock India is leading to high distress amongst farmers. Various water conservation schemes have been tried and piloted, but no idea has scaled up to the national level. Groundwater use, individual as it is, an idea of revitalizing it, if still individual-based, could possibly succeed. Recharging through dug wells is one such thought. After mass movements in Saurashtra in mid 1990s, no effort has been made to promote the idea nationally, till now. The current national programme on artificial dug well recharge hopes to do so. But this idea can succeed only if farmers see a worth in it and try to make it successful. A survey of 767 dug wells owning farmers in 10 districts of India shows that there is immense potential, yet constraints to dug well recharge. A comparison with the average natural recharge over hard rock areas of 116 mm annually shows that from collected data there is almost an equal potential in recharging groundwater irrigated areas through dug wells. Surveyed farmers also expect a great increase in water availability, especially during the dry seasons. However, farmers are wary of this recharged water flowing across to their neighbours. They expect to gain around 30% from their recharged water, but agree that there would be a common gain by recharging together along with their neighbours. The estimated cost by farmers of Rs. 10,000 for the recharge structures is not such a big constraint, nor is siltation, for which they suggest numerous innovative solutions. Managing dug well recharge locally is critical. Should it become mandatory for farmers to apply in groups of 10, as our sampled farmers suggest? Should the national programme be structured such that farmers are transferred the subsidy and construct the structures in April or May as they unanimously prefer? Should the policy instead be to promote local businesses around recharge, such as to harness the experience of well drillers, who also operate during the same summer months? More such tuning is needed over implementation of the dug well recharge programme to create demand from farmers, catalyze enterprises locally around recharge and establish monitoring programmes to measure the benefits from the first upcoming season in 2009 over lakhs of recharge structures.

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