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Tag: groundwater

How much water do we have?

According to a report in Down To Earth, not enough. India’s reservoirs are 40% deficit and monsoon is retreating.

Availability of water in country’s 91 major reservoirs fell to 95.313 billion cubic metres or 60 per cent of the total storage capacity, as on September 23, according to an official release.

“This storage is 75 per cent of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 77 per cent of storage of average of last ten years,” says the release by the Ministry of Water Resources.

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Digging up fossil-water

Digging up fossil-water is dangerous water-strategy. NASA & reports from IWMI have sounded out loud on India’s disproportionate dependence on groundwater, using satellite data to mark water-stressed parts of India. We are the world’s largest user of fossil-water (China which comes second uses only half the amount of groundwater we use), using about a quarter of the of the global total, says a World bank report cited in this Times of India article, Can Groundwater Use Be Charged?

There are nearly 5 lakh illegal borewells in just the national capital for extracting groundwater. A National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) study says almost 16% of Delhi’s urban households and 30% of its rural ones don’t have sufficient drinking water throughout the year.

The court passed the order on a PIL filed by Ramesh Ailwadi seeking a direction to governments to price the groundwater resource as is done in the case of water being supplied by local authorities.

“Undergroundwater forms part of natural resources and of which government is the guardian and has the responsibility to ensure that the same is distributed to subserve the common good. It is further the case of the petitioner that wastage of this precious resource by those who have been able to obtain groundwater installations violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India,” the petition said.


Almost everyday, newspapers are replete with urban centers overdrawing their borewells — and most of this water goes towards construction and industry, leaving residents and the countryside thirsty.

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Water, water everywhere…

Remember having to learn those Coleridge lines by rote as a kid? Turns out, the “not a drop to drink” bit is coming true — and not just for the ancient mariner.

In the intro to her Freshwater project on this site, Arati Kumar-Rao pointed out that if all the freshwater (groundwater, rivers, lakes, wells, all sources of water we can actually drink) were to be frozen, the resulting cube would be just about the size of Bangalore.

The bit that should make us weep? That cube, pitifully small when we consider the number of thirsty humans, and cattle, and wildlife, plus all the other demands we place on our water sources, is shrinking at a dramatic rate. Like, so:

Twenty-one of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are losing water at a greater rate than they’re being refilled, falling victim to population growth and climate change. Thirteen of those diminishing water sources are experiencing “significant distress,” including the Arabian Aquifer System, which supplies Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa, the Indus Basin of India and Pakistan, and the Central Valley Aquifer System in California.

That clip is from a Vice News report that cites a joint NASA-UC Irvine study.

“It’s very serious,” Jay Famiglietti — who judged by the evidence appears to be a master of understatement — of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an author of the report, tells Vice. The story, which speaks of what can ramify as various regions run out of water, is scary in the extreme.

Here, read: The World Is Running Out of Water


Where Rivers Run Black

Last year NASA released a map that should be a wakeup call for each one of us.

“You are,” it screamed across patches of warning-red spanning all of India, “consuming way more than the natural recharge rate of aquifers. Beware, your water reserves are running out.”

India extracts more groundwater than any other country in the world. Runner-up China uses just half the amount India does. Further, our water is grossly contaminated in many places — and that toxic brew is what a large percentage of our population consumes every day.

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