Elixir of life

Hidden crisis beneath our feet: Preserving groundwater for future generations



3 min. read

“Leaving the earth’s surface open is like an open wound that leads to contamination.”

These words of noted environmentalist Dr Ravi Chopra encapsulate the gravity of the unregulated drilling of borewells in India. In this article, we delve into the pressing issue of unsustainable groundwater extraction and emphasise the need for scientific studies and responsible measures to address this critical crisis.

By exploring successful techniques adapted at GoodEarth, we discover ways to preserve and replenish this invaluable resource, fostering a sustainable future for generations to come.
VES study of GoodEarth Malhar Eco-village showing the positions of aquifers and points for recharge through inwells

Understanding the crisis

In India, the uncontrolled digging of borewells is a prevalent practice, driven by the urgent need for water. However, the absence of scientific studies and guidelines during this process often leads to deep drilling or overextraction, causing the rapid depletion of groundwater. Worse yet, defunct borewells are left improperly closed, exacerbating contamination risks and further contributing to the water scarcity problem. To combat this crisis, it is crucial that we shift our perspective on groundwater, recognising it as a repository rather than an inexhaustible source, and adopt responsible practices to ensure its long-term availability.

Seeking hydrogeological expertise

By consulting hydrogeologists and utilising advanced techniques, communities and individuals can gain a comprehensive understanding of groundwater dynamics in their respective areas. Techniques like Vertical Electrical Sounding (VES) studies can accurately identify aquifer locations and storage capacities, providing crucial insights into their properties, depth, yield, and spatial distribution. This knowledge empowers them to make informed choices, such as identifying suitable locations for borewells and implementing effective recharge strategies. Ultimately, integrating the expertise of hydrogeologists into the planning and execution of groundwater-related activities can significantly contribute to sustainable water management practices.

Measures to preserve and recharge aquifers

Reversing the adverse effects of unregulated drilling requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. It is crucial to shift our focus from mere extraction to improving water quality and recharging aquifers. Drawing inspiration from the successful practices at GoodEarth Malhar, we can implement a range of soil and water management measures to effectively preserve and replenish our groundwater resources.
At GoodEarth Malhar, a variety of techniques have been implemented with remarkable success. These include:

  1. Reverse slope: By creating a reverse slope, water runoff is directed towards the recharge areas, allowing it to percolate into the ground and replenish the aquifers. This simple yet effective measure minimizes surface runoff and maximizes water infiltration.

2. Staggered trenching: Staggered trenching involves creating trenches in a staggered pattern, promoting the infiltration of rainwater and reducing soil erosion. This technique enhances water retention within the soil, supporting the replenishment of groundwater.

3. Farm ponds and tree berns: Constructing farm ponds and tree berns helps in harvesting rainwater and facilitating its gradual percolation into the ground. These features act as storage reservoirs, ensuring a sustained supply of water to the aquifers and promoting the growth of vegetation.

4. Deep recharge wells: Deep recharge wells are specifically designed to recharge groundwater through controlled percolation. By drilling these wells strategically in areas with high groundwater potential, we can replenish aquifers and maintain their optimal storage levels.

The design of deep recharge wells specifically designed for GoodEarth Malhar Eco-village after the VES study

5. Rainwater harvesting: Capturing and storing rainwater through techniques like rooftop rainwater harvesting systems can significantly contribute to recharging aquifers. Collecting rainwater and channelling it into storage tanks or underground reservoirs through scientifically designed filtration pipes allows for its gradual seepage into the ground, replenishing groundwater levels. A geo-membrane tank can also be used to store rainwater which then can be later utilised.

6. Treating wastewater and mulching: To conserve water and nurture soil health, treating wastewater for irrigation purposes proves effective. By implementing appropriate treatment processes, we can repurpose wastewater, reducing the reliance on freshwater sources. Additionally, employing mulching techniques aids in soil moisture retention, minimizing evaporation and optimizing water usage for irrigation.

Thus, by adopting these measures and tailoring them to local conditions, we can preserve our precious groundwater resources while ensuring their long-term sustainability. Each step taken towards responsible water management contributes to the mitigation of the groundwater crisis, nurturing its replenishment. Together, we can make a lasting impact and preserve the lifeline beneath our feet for generations to come.

Rainwater harvesting technique adopted at GoodEarth

By protecting the soil with mulching which retains water, there is a significant decrease of loss of water through transpiration and evapo-transpiration at Malhar Eco-village.

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