Springshed Management in Uttarakhand

According to the United Nations Development Programme’s estimate, small springs provide 90% of Uttarakhand’s drinking water. However, most of the rainfall in mountain regions escapes as runoff and does not percolate into the aquifers; groundwater is not recharged and natural springs begin to dry up. Climatic factors, anthropogenic causes, topography, deforestation, soil, decline in rainfall, etc, have all resulted in reduced water availability in the region. For this Himalayan state, where about 20% of the 15,165 villages face problems related to drinking water and more than 180 villages do not have a designated source of drinking water, this loss is colossal. 

This is the challenge being addressed by the Tata Trusts’ Himmotthan Pariyojana’s springshed management programme and Tata Water Mission.

Springsheds are sources of ground or spring water. More than 145 springs were augmented, resulting in sustained water supply to project villages. Comprehensive scientific methods (hydrogeology, assessment of water quality, etc) were used to ensure long-term sustainability of water schemes. Loose boulder check dams constructed for springshed management has prevented both soil and water runoff, increasing the rate of infiltration of water and enhancing water discharge from springs. The check dams have also helped to reduce landslides caused by the run off.

The focus is also on building village community knowledge towards the management of their natural water resources. Once the springs are revived, ‘water champions’ – trained para-hydrogeologists – take over to ensure the sustainability of the project. Himmotthan Society is also working in collaboration with the Uttarakhand Space Application Centre to develop a Spring Information System, a comprehensive data inventory on GIS platform to provide essential information for springshed management. The platform has information on about 155 springsheds of Tehri and Pithoragarh districts and the data improves the understanding of the springshed ecosystem, distribution, status and restoration.

Key achievements
  • Augmentation of more than 145 springs
  • Hydrogeological surveys and mapping in 25 villages
  • Completed the implementation of recharge work in 25 villages through WUSCs
  • Organised cluster-level training for community-based water quality issues and management
  • Capacity building of WUSCs in 25 villages

Area of Operation: Uttarakhand

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