Oral Presentation NCGRT/IAH Australasian Groundwater Conference 2019

Impact of climate change on the groundwater resources of India: need of an appropriate adaptation strategy (251)

Shadananan Nair Krishnapillai 1
  1. Centre for Earth Research and Environment Management, Kochi, Kerala, India

Availability of reliable groundwater in India is fast decreasing as a result of climate extremes and human impact on the environment. Dependency on groundwater increases with rising water demands and depleting surface water resources. Higher temperatures produce more evaporation from surface water bodies and also make the soil dry, reducing the recharging of underground resources. Increasing rainfall seasonality allows wasteful runoff and reduces the duration of groundwater recharge. High intensity rainfall erodes topsoil, reducing the water holding and recharging capacity of the surface. Trends in rainfall in the dry zones increase dependency of groundwater for irrigation where there is no balance between extraction and recharge. Changing frequency and intensity of cyclones increasingly salinates coastal aquifers. Predicted change in sea level may add to this in future. Changes in the course of rivers as a result of flooding and sedimentation may lower the water table in the heavy rainfall regions. Falling water availability leads to social issues such as migration of farmers, conflicts over allocation and pricing. Present study analyses the trends in rainfall, temperature and aridity, proneness to droughts, their impact on groundwater resources, and critically reviews the existing policies, strategies and management practices. Current availability and utilisation of groundwater in different States, and the possible changes under an altered climate have been assessed. Main objective of the study is to assess the present groundwater situation in India and its possible changes in near future to suggest guidelines for appropriate groundwater policy and climate change adaptation strategy in the agriculture and water sectors. Necessary data have been procured from the India Meteorological Department; Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Agriculture. Study reports from various Research Institutes, Universities and NGOs have been used. Study reveals a sharp decline in groundwater availability in almost all parts of India. Groundwater across north-western and south-eastern India drops by 4cm/year and more than 109 Km3 of groundwater disappeared in 4 years. Quality of groundwater in more than one-third of India is very bad. Urgent measures to cope with changing climate are vital in maintaining food and water securities and poverty alleviation.