India's groundwater troubles


23 May 2017

India uses more groundwater than US, China combined

Reports indicate that the groundwater table in India is being rapidly used up and could lead to a national water disaster by 2030.

Research has shown that cities in India are facing worse issues with groundwater exploitation. This is happening due to over consumption of groundwater, beyond its replenishing capacity.

A look at the water usage trends in India shows a bleak future.

How bad is the problem?

After accounting for losses due to evaporation and other factors, India has 1,123 billion cubic meters of usable water. By 2020, India's consumption is projected to reach 1093 billion cubic meters. Hence in just a few years, we could reach our water consumption limit.

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Rural India

Rural India, agriculture

Rural India, agriculture

The situation in rural India is bad because of the over use of ground water for agricultural purposes.

This happens because not enough infrastructure investment has been made for irrigation canals that can exploit the rivers and lakes.

An increasing population requires more agricultural output, which would require more water usage.

Hence, in rural India, more investments are needed to tap above-ground water resources.

Groundwater becoming saline

In several farming areas in North India, the groundwater has begun to turn saline because the aquifers are not replenishing fast enough to keep up with consumption. Hence, groundwater is slowly becoming unusable.


Cities in India

Chennai and Bangalore are among the worst affected cities in terms of water crisis.

While Mumbai manages to maintain a steady supply of water due to rains in the Western Ghats, this supply has begun reducing every year.

Delhi has frequent water supply issues in the summer months.

No Indian city supplies 24x7 drinking water to all its residents.


Can rainwater harvesting help?

India receives plenty of rain every year due to its geographical location.

However, a very minute percentage of this rain water is harvested and stored for long term use.

Cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai can use rainwater harvesting to store water for the dry summer months.

Over 48% of India's rainfall simply goes back into rivers and ultimately in the ocean.


On the brink of crisis

If current trends in water mismanagement continue, then by 2030, 60% of India's groundwater reserves would be in critical condition, posing a risk to 25% agricultural output.

29% of India's ground water blocks are already listed as "over-exploited."

Infrastructure investments also need to ensure that losses due to leaks and wastage is minimized.

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