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Potential and Pitalls

M. Dinesh Kumar
Ankit Patel
OP Singh


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India has a long tradition o water haresting. Manv o the traditional water haresting
svstems hae either gone under disuse due to a arietv o phvsical. social. economic. cultural and
political actors which hae caused their deterioration and decline o institutions which hae
nurtured them Agarwal and Narain. 199, or hae lost their releance in the modern dav
context due to their inabilitv to meet the desires o the communities. \hile the irst dimension
o the decline in water haresting tradition has been well researched and documented. the
second dimension is much less understood and appreciated. 1he lack o resistance to appreciate
the act that dierent periods in historv are marked bv genesis. rise and all o some new water
haresting tradition. is also erv clear.

In India`s water sector historv. the past two decades are characterized bv a boom in
water haresting. 1hev are markedlv dierent rom the traditional ones in two wavs: irst rom
the context: and second rom the purpose. As regards the context. thev are able to use recent
adancements in soil. geosciences and hvdro-sciences: and modern dav techniques and
technologies in surev and inestigation. earth moing and construction: and management tools
such as hvdrological and hvdraulic modeling. \hile the traditional ones represented the best
engineering eat o those times. in terms o water technologv used or water harnessing and
distribution Agarwal and Narain. 199,: and the olume o water handled. the modern water
haresting svstems are at best miniatures o the large water resource svstems that use adances in
ciil engineering and hvdrologv. As regards the purpose. thev are emploved as resource
management solution. and not as resource deelopment solutions. lor instance. manv water
haresting structures were built or improing aquier storages and groundwater qualitv.

1he limited Indian research on rainwater haresting R\l,artiicial recharge so ar had
ocused on engineering perormance o indiidual structures see Muralidharan and Athawale.
1998,. \hile a lot o anecdotal eidences on the social and economic gains exist. there is little
understanding based on empirical work o: 1| the impacts o water haresting actiities on local
hvdrological regime in terms o net water gain: 2| basin leel impacts on oerall basin water
balance: and 3| economic imperaties rom a long term perspectie. O late. researchers had
raised questions o the possible unintended impacts o water haresting see Bachelor et at..
2002,. and its economics see Kumar. 2004,. One o the reasons or the little or lack o empirical
research on the hvdrological and economic aspects o water haresting svstems is the lack o
abilitv to generate accurate scientiic data on arious parameters. mostlv hvdraulic. hvdrological
and meteorological. goerning the perormance and impact o water haresting. 1he problem
mainlv stems rom the act that these svstems are erv micro in nature. therebv making it
diicult to obtain data on the ariables rom conentional sources. Analvsis o water haresting
svstems also misses the inluence o scale actor`.


1he paper begins with the basic premise that scale considerations are important in
analvzing the impact o water haresting: i.e.. one has to moe rom local watershed leel
analvsis to the rier basin leel analvsis and that basin leel impacts are not alwavs aggregates o
local impacts. 1he paper irst discusses the critical issues in rainwater haresting rom micro and
macro perspecties. 1he macro leel analvsis is strengthened bv primarv data on hvdrological
ariables collected rom two small rier basins. It then goes on to make practical suggestions or
eectie rainwater haresting.

1he paper would trv and achiee the ollowing: 1| present the major tvpologies in water
haresting in India: 2| discuss the phvsical--hvdrological and meteorological--. socio-economic
and purelv economic considerations that need to be inoled in decision making with regard to
water haresting inestments or analvzing the impact o R\l svstems. and how these
considerations limit the scope o water haresting: and 3| make practical suggestions or
improing the eectieness o rainwater haresting.



Rainwater haresting as a major initiatie started in two Indian States. iz.. Gujarat and
Rajasthan nearlv two decades ago as a response to a growing water problems. some o which are:
recurring droughts: widespread problems o groundwater oer-drat: deterioration o
groundwater qualitv caused bv seawater intrusion: shortage o economicallv accessible water
resources. all resulting in scarcitv o water or irrigation and drinking.

1he regions which are engaged in water haresting can be put under our tvpologies.
lirst tvpologv o regions are those in which water demand or irrigation was exceptionallv high
but supplies rom local sources were getting exhausted due to unsustainable leels o use to meet
the excessie demands. 1hese regions are also highlv drought-prone. Lxamples are Saurashtra.
Kachchh and north Gujarat in western India and parts o peninsular India coering manv areas
o 1amil Nadu. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. 1hese regions also experience acute shortage o
drinking water. during summer. een in vears o good rainall.

Second tvpologv o regions are those in which the oerall demand or water is low due
to low leel o dependence on irrigated arming as a source o lielihood. An example is north
western Rajasthan where communities practice subsistence arming with rain-ed crops. and
indigenous cattle herds. But. there is paucitv o resources with the communities to access the
local groundwater to meet arious subsistence needs including liestock and human drinking
this socio-economicallv backward region Sharma. 2002,. 1he water use prioritv in these regions
is domestic and liestock drinking. which demand low olumes o water at the aggregate leel.
Lxample is Alwar district in Rajasthan. 1his region has seen a lot o eorts at rainwater
haresting using donor unds inoling local communities.

1here are a third categorv o regions. which are rain-rich. such as central India coering
parts o Gujarat eastern,. Madhva Pradesh. (hattisgarh. Jharkhand and Maharashtra. 1hese
regions hae highlv undulating topographv. 1he water endowment is poor due to excessie
runos lowing out o the region. poor groundwater storage. and erosion o top soil resulting
rom poor egetation and lack o soil and water conseration measures. listoricallv. there has
been a gradual shit in lielihoods in this region rom one which is orest-based to one which is
based on arming. owing to erosion o orest resources. Need or water to stabilize agricultural
production is high in this drought-prone region: though the leel o use is poor due to
backwardness. Access to cheap irrigation acilities can help armers enhance khari production
and take winter crops Phansalkar and Verma. 2004,. \ater haresting and watershed
management programmes hae been undertaken in these regions with goernment and donor
unds to augment surace water storage. increase groundwater recharge and consere soil
moisture. therebv improing agricultural production and drinking water securitv.

1here is a ourth categorv o regions that are water-rich and agriculturallv prosperous.
and hae high water demands or agriculture and other uses. It includes the exceptionallv high
rainall region o (hirapunji and monsoon-rich Kerala. But. a large percentage o the water
demand or agriculture is met through rainall rom South west and South east monsoon. with

1hough it is being argued bv the agencies which work in this region that the scarcitv o water is
mainlv caused bv perennial riers becoming ephemeral due to large-scale deorestation.
minimum dependence on irrigation. But the past ew decades had changed the water use
hvdrologv o Kerala. larmers hae shited rom paddv that heailv harness monsoon rains iv .itv
and also recharge groundwater svstems. to perennial crops such as banana. coconut and other
plantation crops that use rainall in small proportions. but largelv depend on irrigation water
Down to Larth. 2004: pp 26-34,. Len these regions ace occasional droughts. 1hese droughts
plav haoc in these denselv populated regions as thev abruptlv boost water demand or crop
production and domestic uses. therebv upsetting water-supplv demand balance. It has become
common phenomenon in Kerala or armers to inest in small water haresting structures or
managing additional water to irrigate their high-alued plantation crops. (ommunities hae also
started haresting rainwater using RR\lS or meeting their domestic needs. with major
goernment sponsored water literacv programmes launched.

lor a long time. rainwater haresting programmes were mainlv concentrated in semi-arid
and arid parts o western India. with remarkable NGO initiaties Shah. 2000a: pp 200-203,.
According to Shah. it became a moement in Saurashtra peninsula. catalvzed and spear-headed
bv religious and spiritual institutions Shah. 2000a: pp 201,. But. oer the past one decade. it has
spread to southern peninsula and central India with local water haresting and groundwater
recharge programmes being taken up bv state goernments in MP. Orissa. 1amil Nadu and
Andhra Pradesh on inspiration rom these western states. and with communitv and NGO
support. O late. the moement has also spread to the historicallv water-rich Kerala as an
atermath o the droughts in 2002. loweer. it is worth noting that the spread o adoption`
has not ollowed anv general pattern. is-a-is the tvpologies we hae explained here.


One o the most important underlving alues in rainwater haresting is that it is a benign
technologv Bachelor et at.. 2002, and cannot create undesirable consequences. \ater haresting
initiaties are drien bv irm belies and assumptions. some o which are: 1| there is a huge
amount o monsoon low. which remain un-captured and eentuallv ends up in the natural sinks.
especiallv seas and oceans. supported bv the national leel aggregates o macro hvdrologv: 2|
local water needs are too small that exogenous water is not needed: 3| local water haresting
svstems are alwavs small. and thereore are cost eectie: 4| since the economic. social and
enironmental alues o water is erv high in regions hit bv water shortages. water haresting
interentions are iable. supported bv the assumption that cost eectie alternaties that can
bring in the same amount o water do not exist: 5| incremental structures lead to incremental
beneits: and 6| being small with low water storage and diersion capacities. thev do not pose
negatie consequences or downstream uses.

4.J Lack of Lmphasis on Local Water Demand and Potential Supplies

Rainwater haresting ignores a ew critical parameters that goern the potential o
R\lS in meeting local water demand. lirst is the hvdrological regime o the regionlocalitv.
Second is the reliabilitv o the supplies. goerned bv the reliabilitv o rainall. 1hird is the
constraint imposed bv local geological and geo-hvdrological settings on recharge potential.
lourth is the aggregate demand or water rom arious sectors within the local area.

Some basic hvdrological phenomena. which make the aboe mentioned parameters erv
critical in deciding the scope o rainwater haresting and groundwater recharging. are:

lor runo haresting. the rainall has to exceed a threshold to generate runo. though the
threshold would arv according to the nature o soils and land coer. 1he estimated runo
based on regression equation arried at rom obsered lows in lathmati sub-basin o
Sabarmati basin R~0.00193X
, in western India source: GOG. 1994, shows that or
the runo to cross 100mm. the minimum rainall required is 682 mm. \hereas in the case
o Kabani sub-basin o (auerv. runo starts when the rainall crosses 366 mm
. loweer.
the actual runo rates would depend on how strong us the correlation between rainall and
runo in a gien basin. and this relation weakens i vear to vear change in rainall intensitv
and pattern is major.

Regions with lower mean annual rainall experience higher ariabilitv and ise ersa
Pisharotv. 1990,. lence. in regions with lower mean annual rainalls. rainwater haresting as
a dependable source o water is likelv to be low.

Generallv. it has been ound that larger magnitude o annual rainall means more number o
rainv davs and smaller magnitude o annual rainall means less number o rainv davs spread
oer the rainv season Pisharotv. 1990,. 1he examples o Gujarat urther illustrate this see
Kumar. 2002b: Kumar. 2004,. Lesser rainv davs also means longer drv spells and thus greater
losses rom eaporation or the same region.

ligh intensitv rainalls are common in semi arid and arid regions o India Garg. 198 as
cited in ligure 24: Athawale. 2003,. ligher intensitv o rainall can lead to high intensitv
runo occurring in short durations. limiting the eectie storage capacitv o rainwater
haresting svstems to almost equal to its actual storage size.

ligh eaporation during rainv season means losses rom surace storage structures. It also
means aster rate o soil moisture depletion through both eaporation rom barren soils and
eapo-transpiration. increasing the rate and quantum o soil iniltration. 1his reduces runo
generation potential. Among the seen locations in Gujarat or which L1
reerence eapo-
transpiration, data are aailable. L1
during monsoon June to September, aries rom a
lowest o 543mm in Vadodara to 14mm in Rajkot. As percentage o annual L1
. it aries
rom a lowest o 33 in semi humid Surat to 3.3 in Bhuj. Kachchh source: authors`
analvsis based on data rom IMD. Ahmedabad,. In the case o Rajasthan. L1
monsoon ranges rom 433mm in the hill station o Mt. Abu to 96. mm in Jaisalmer in the
1har Desert. In percentage terms. it aries rom a lowest o 32 o the total annual L1
Sawaimadhupur to a highest o 49.3 in Anupgarh GOR. 1992,. Among the 10 locations
selected along Narmada basin in Madhva Pradesh. the alues range rom 429mm to 600mm.
with it as a percentage o total L1
ranging rom 31.3 in Betul to 35 in Mandla source:
GOMP. 192,.

Soil iniltration capacitv can be a limiting actor or recharge. In sandv and sandv loam soils.
the iniltration capacitv o the recharge area can be sustained through continuous remoal o
soils. But clavev soils hae inherent limitation. Results obtained rom short term iniltration

1he regression equation or Kabani estimated bv National \ater Deelopment Board based on
obsered lows was R~ 0.6363 N-233. where N is the rainall mm, and R the runo mm,.
test carried out in dug wells in Andhra Pradesh in two dierent soil conditions show that the
iniltration rate becomes negligible 0.60 mmhr, within 10 minutes o starting the test in
the case o siltv clav. whereas iniltration stabilizes at a rate o 129.1 mmhour within the
irst 25 minutes in the case o sandv loam NGRI. 2000,. I the iniltration rate approaches
to zero ast. it will negatie aect the recharge eiciencv o percolation ponds. As thin soil
coer has low iniltration Muralidharan and Athawale. 1998,. the extent o the problem
would be larger in hard rock areas ideal or percolation ponds, with thin soil coer.
Dickenson 1994, based on seeral iniltration studies shows that rate o iniltration declines
to a minimum alue within 4-5 davs o ponding. 1his also will hae aderse eects on the
perormance o structures built in areas experiencing lash loods and high eaporation rates.
solutions or which would be wetting or drving o pond beds through regulation o inlows.

lor artiicial recharge. the storage potential o the aquier is extremelv important. 1he
storage potential o an aquier is-a-is the additional recharge is determined bv the
geological ormation characteristics. and the likelv depth o dewatered zone.

In hillv watersheds. the area aailable or cultiation is generallv erv low. keeping
agricultural water demand low. At the same time. the surace water potential aailable or
haresting is generallv high due to high rainall and runo coeicients. On the contrarv.
towards the allevs and plains. the area aailable or cultiation increases. raising agricultural
water demand. At the same time. the surace water potential aailable or harnessing is
generallv low due to the lower rainall. and low runo coeicients owing to mild slopes. high
PL1 and deeper soil proiles.

1he implications o some o these actors on the potential o rainwater haresting
svstems are analvzed in the ollowing two sections. i.e.. 3.1.1 and 3.1.2.

4.1.1 Limitations Imposed bv lvdrological Regimes

Iigure J: Infiltration Rate in Sandy Loam and Siltyclay Soil at the
botton of dug well
1 2 3 4 5 6 8
1ime (Minutes)














Sandv Loam Sandv Loam
Siltv (lav
Local water management interentions are oten based on erv little understanding o
the local hvdrological regimes. which goern the potential supplies o water or haresting. 1hev
are rather based on deep-rooted belie that higher the size o water impounding structure. higher
would be the hvdrological beneit in terms o water storage and recharge. 1he best example is
the participatorv water conseration moement launched bv the goernment o Gujarat. 1he
goernment implemented large-scale work o excaation o thousands o illage ponds.
irrespectie o the nature and size o catchments Kumar. 2002a,. Part o the reason is the lack
o aailabilitv o data on inlows. determined bv stream-lows: and outlows. determined bv
eaporation rates. or small rainwater catchments. \hile runo haresting is most suited to
areas with high runo catchment area` to run on` area ratio Lalljee and lacknath. 1994,. this
is also ignored. ligher the ariditv. larger would be the required catchment area to the cropped
area required or the same water vield Prinz. 2002,. Oten. encroachment o catchments o
water haresting svstems or crop cultiation is erv rampant. reducing the runo prospects.

1he states. which hae taken up rainwater haresting and groundwater recharge
programmes on a large scale. are Gujarat north Gujarat. Saurashtra and Kachchh,. Rajasthan.
Maharashtra. 1amil Nadu. Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh. Madhva Pradesh. Orissa and
(hattisgarh. A major part o these regions is coered bv six water-scarce rier basin svstems.
namelv. Sabarmati. riers o Kachchh and Saurashtra. Pennar. (auerv. east-lowing riers
between Mahanadi and Godaari. east lowing riers between Pennar and Kanvakumari. which
hae less than 1.000 m
o renewable water per annum Gupta. 2000: pp 116,. Now let us look at
the hvdrological regime existing in these regions.

lor this. we irst examine the percentage area o each state alling under dierent rainall
regimes 300mm. 300-600mm. and 600-1000mm. 1000-1500mm. 1500-2500mm and
2500mm,: and dierent PL regimes 1500mm. 1500-2500mm. 2500-3500mm and
3500mm,. It is understood that regions with relatielv low rainall hae higher potential eapo-
transpiration due to relatielv low humiditv. higher number o sunnv davs Pisharotv. 1990,.
Lower rainall. coupled with higher PL reduces the runo potential and high eaporation rom
the impounded runo. therebv increasing the drvness lurd et at.. 1999,. 1he analvsis shows that
Gujarat and Rajasthan hae 11 and 42 area. respectielv. all under extremelv low rainalls
300mm,: and 39 and 32. respectielv under low rainall 300-600mm,. 1he other states bv
and large all in the medium rainall 600mm-1000mm, and high rainall 1000-1500mm,
regimes. In the case o Maharashtra. MP. AP. Karnataka and 1amil Nadu. a lion`s share 85
and aboe, alls in medium rainall regime. and in case o Orissa and (hattisgarh. 45 and 40
respectielv all in high rainall regime see Map 1,.

As regards PL. lion`s share o Gujarat and Rajasthan all under high eaporation 2500-
3000mm,: nearlv 35-56 o the geographical area o other states except Orissa and (hattisgarh,
all under high eaporation regimes: the area o these states alling in the medium eaporation
regime 1500-2500mm, is in the range o 38-65. 1he entire Orissa and (hattisgarh all in
medium eaporation regime. Oerall. a large section o the area o the 9 states considered, has
medium rainall. and medium to high eaporation. A signiicant portion o the area o Gujarat
and Rajasthan, has erv low to low rainalls and high eaporation see Map 2,.

1able J: Rainfall and PL Regimes of States Having Water Harvesting Programmes
Area with Rainall below Area with Laporation PL, Name o State
300 300- 600-1000 1000- 1500- 2500 1500 1500- 2500- 3500


2500 mm

Gujarat 10.88 39.08 4.2 2. 88.53 11.4
Rajasthan 41.80 32.45 25.5 100.00
Maharashtra 85.86 6.93 .21 3.96 56.23 5.81
Pradesh 95.1 4.29 56.94 42.89 0.1
Andhra Pradesh 9.83 2.1 52.0 4.30
Karnataka 88.01 3.65 5.6 2.6 62.82 3.18
1amil Nadu 96.52 2.98 0.50 64.56 35.44
Orissa 54.01 45.99 100.00
(hattisgarh 59.39 40.61 100.00
Source: authors` own estimates based on Pisharotv 1990, using GIS

In the next step. we analvze: the proportion o the geographical area rom each o these
regionsstates alling under dierent rainall ariabilitv classes like 25. 25-30. 30-40. 40-
50 and 50 and aboe. ligher the magnitude o PL1 during monsoon. higher will be the
negatie impact on hvdrological ariables such as surace storage and recharge. \hile it reduces
surace storage through eaporation. higher PL1 during monsoon also means higher crop water
requirement during the season and increased soil moisture depletion leading to reduced recharge
rom rainall. In barren soils. higher eaporation rates leads to aster soil moisture depletion
perpetuating higher rate o iniltration o the incoming precipitation and lower runo.

As 1able 2 indicates. a large percentage o the total geographical area o Gujarat and
Rajasthan 2 and 68. respectielv, has high to erv high 30-40 and aboe, ariabilitv in
rainall. A signiicant part o the geographical area o the states 3 to 3 to 92, experience
medium ariabilitv in rainall: the rest o the area experiences low ariabilitv. 1he entire Orissa
and (hattisgarh experience onlv low ariabilitv in rainall. In nutshell. more than 50 o the
total geographical area o all the states put together experience medium ariabilitv: nearlv 25
experience high to erv high ariabilitv`: and nearlv 20 per cent experience low ariabilitv` in
rainall see Map 3,. 1hev coincide with medium rainall-medium to high eaporation`. low
rainall-erv high eaporation` and high rainall- medium eaporation` regimes. respectielv.

It can be seen rom Map 1. 2 and 3 that regions with high ariabilitv in rainall coincide
with those with low magnitudes o rainall and high PL. which also hae high drvness ratio. In
such areas. a slight ariation in precipitation or PL can substantiallv magniv the water stress on
biological svstems as compared to humid regions lurd et at.. 1999,. ligher the ariabilitv in
rainall. lower would be the reliabilitv o local water harestingrecharge svstems. 1his is because
chances o occurrence o low rainalls and extremelv low runo would be higher under such
circumstances. and at the same time. the demand or water would be high due to enironmental
stressed caused bv poor soil moisture storage. low runo and high temperature.

1able 2: Rainfall Variability Regimes of States Having Water Harvesting Programmes
Area with Rainall Variabilitv in the range o Name o State
25 - 30
30 - 40
40 - 50
erv high,
Gujarat 0.24 2.12 44.30 1.11 11.22
Rajasthan 8.33 24.08 23.04 30.1 13.84
Maharashtra 3.6 62.33
Madhva Pradesh 49.1 50.29
Andhra Pradesh 62.64 3.36
Karnataka 29.15 0.85
1amil Nadu .3 92.2
Orissa 100.00 0.00
(hattisgarh 100.00 0.00
Source: authors` own estimates based on Pisharotv 1990, using GIS

In the third step. we analvze the aerage number o rainv davs and its ariabilitv across
regions. \e attempt to ind out the percentage o geographical area o each region. alling under
dierent rainv dav sav 20 davs. 20-30 davs. 30-40 davs. 40-50 davs. 50-5 davs. and 5 and
aboe davs,. \e also analvze the implications or the quantum o rainall in each rainall eent
and the maximum and minimum dailv rainalls under dierent rainall regimes.

1he analvsis shows that Gujarat and Rajasthan all in regions which experience monsoon
rains in a ewer davs. 1o elaborate: nearlv 21 o Gujarat and 45 o Rajasthan state receie
less than 20 davs o annual rains: nearlv 51 o Gujarat and 0 o Rajasthan all in areas which
experience less than 30 davs o rain in a vear: nearlv 13
o both the states receie 30-40 davs o
rain. As regards the states 3-. the area which receies 30-40 davs o rain ranges rom 9 to 2:
40-50 davs o rain ranges rom 29-39: 50-5 davs o rain ranges rom 2-58. 1he \estern
Ghat in Maharashtra and Karnataka receie heav rains spread oer manv davs 5,. As
regards Orissa and (hattisgarh. both the states receie 50-5 davs o rain in a vear. 1o sum up.
the regions which receie ewer davs o rain erratic rains, coincide with those experiencing low
rainall and high eaporation and high ariabilitv in rainall. 1he regions which experience manv
wet davs coincide with those which experience high and reliable rainall and medium
eaporation see Map 1. 2. 3 and 4,.

1able 3: Distribution of Rainy Days in States Having Water Harvesting Programmes
Area with Rainv Davs in the Range o Name o State
20 davs 20-30 davs 30-40 davs 40-50 davs 50-5 davs 5 davs
Gujarat 20.5 30.8 32.30 6.15 10.11
Rajasthan 45.31 24.38 28.19 2.12
Maharashtra 22.5 29.1 43.24 5.01
Madhva Pradesh 21.1 33.26 45.5
Andhra Pradesh 12.1 29.80 58.03
Karnataka 26.55 38.9 2.13 .53
1amil Nadu 9.35 35.8 54.86 0.01
Orissa 98. 1.23
(hattisgarh 100.00
Source: authors` own estimates based on Pisharotv 1990, using GIS

Svnthesizing the results o the spatial analvsis o rainall. PL. rainall ariabilitv and
number o rainv davs that are proided in Maps 1-4. the ollowing trends can be established: the
inter-annual ariabilitv in rainall increases with reducing rainall: the number o wet spells
reduces with lowering magnitude o rainall: the PL increases with lowering magnitude o
rainall. 1he implications o this trend on the potential o water haresting in a region needs to
be understood. Lower the rainall. coupled with higher potential eaporation and inter-annual
ariabilitv in rainall and ewer rainv davs. lower would be the potential o water haresting. 1his
is due to the ollowing processes. lirst: the runo potential bv and large would be low in low
rainall regions with high drvness ratio. Second: eaporation rom surace storage would be high
due to high PL. 1hird: the probabilitv o occurrence o erv low rainalls. causing heav
reductions in runo. would be high. with consequent hvdrological stresses.

4.1.2 Limitations Imposed bv Socioeconomic Svstem

\ater haresting arguments totallv misses on the water demand-aailabilitv perspectie
at micro leel. Ideallv. the R\lS would work i the area which has uncommitted lows to
harness has un-met demand` or ise ersa. 1his is unlike large water resource svstems where
proisions exist or transer o water rom surplus` areas to deicit areas.

1he water demand o an area is determined bv the agro-climate and existing
socioeconomic svstem. which. in act. gets adjusted bv the natural resource enironment o the
illage. the aailable technologies or accessing them and the institutional and policv
enironments oer a period o time. Regions which were heailv into irrigated agriculture in the
past. supported bv good water endowments. institutional support and aourable policies. might
continue demanding large quantities o water or irrigation een when thev run out o water.
1his is because communities take quite some time to deise coping and adaptie strategies to
manage with conditions o water deicits.

Studies in a illage in Mandi taluka o Kachchh. which is one o the most arid districts
in India. showed that the annual water withdrawal rom aquiers or irrigating corps is 25.42
M(M. 1he entire water requirements in the illage were being met bv groundwater. which is
experiencing seere oer-drat conditions Kumar. 199,. 1he total amount o rainwater alling
in the illage is nearlv 10.14 M(M source: based on data proided in Kumar. 199 on
geographical area and the mean annual rainall o Kachchh,. \ith a surace water potential o
0.014 M(Msq. km IRMAUNI(Ll. 2001,. the amount o runo water that would be
aailable or replenishment through natural and artiicial recharge rom within the illage is onlv
0.40 M(M. 1he runo is. thereore. a small raction o the total consumptie use. 1his means
that the illage has to depend on exogenous sources o water or making water use sustainable.
\hat is presented is representatie o almost the entire peninsular India excluding Kerala.
central India and western India.

In a illage named Manund. in Patan district o north Gujarat. which has seen
widespread pond de-silting. the total groundwater abstraction or agriculture alone was estimated
to be 3.8 M(M or 25mm,. with 35 deep tube wells pumping water at a rate o nearlv 15000
gallons per hour or nearlv 1500 hours a vear Kumar. 2000b,. 1he groundwater condition o the
illage is tvpical o north Gujarat region. Against this. the total amount o rainall oer the illage
is onlv .56 M(M. with a mean annual rainall o 550mm oer an area o 134 ha. 1he runo
which this amount o rainall can generate is 63.8mm as per the rainall runo relationship. with
the total runo being 0.8 M(M. But. in practice. it is unlikelv to get this amount o runo. as
armers directlv harness a signiicant chunk o the runo generated rom the crop land. which
alls in catchment. iv .itv or crop production. unlike large basins with good part under irgin
catchments. Kumar 2000, estimated the groundwater oer-drat in the illage as nearlv
24.5mm bv considering the recharge as 5 o the annual rainall. lence. een i the entire
runo generated is harnessed or recharge. it would amount to onlv 25. o the oer-drat.

On the other hand. there are manv regions in India where the economic demand or
water is ar below what the natural endowment can proide. 1he entire Ganga-Brahmaputra
basin area can be put in this categorv. 1he region has enormous amount o static groundwater.
estimated to be 88.6 B(M. apart rom haing high rainall and cold sub-humid climate that
generate suicient surace lows. (heaper access to water might increase the demand or
irrigation water slightlv. But. there are signiicant limits to it imposed bv the cold and humid
climate and erv low per capita arable land. and thereore would continue to be below what the
water endowment can proide Shah 2001: Kumar. 2003,. Alreadv. the irrigation intensities are
high in Uttar Pradesh and larvana. 1hough irrigation intensitv in Bihar is low. the sub-humid
and cold climate reduces the irrigation requirement signiicantlv. In most part o this region. the
issue is not o the phvsical aailabilitv o water. but the abilitv o communities to access it or
irrigation Kumar. 2003: Shah. 2001,. \ater haresting anvwav does not oer anv economic
solution here or the poorer communities to access water.

4.2 Issues in Lvaluating Costs and Lconomics

In the planning o large water resource svstems. cost and economics are important
considerations in ealuating dierent options. But unortunatelv. the same does not seem to be
applicable in the case o small svstems. though concerns about economics o recharge svstems in
certain situations were raised bv authors such as Phadtare 1988, and Kumar 2004,.

Part o the reason or lack o emphasis on cost` is the lack o scientiic understanding
o the hvdrological aspects o small scale interentions. such as the amount o stream lows that
are aailable at the point o impoundment. its pattern. the amount that could be impounded or
recharged and the inluence area o the recharge svstem. Len though simulation models are
aailable or analvzing catchment hvdrologv. there are great diiculties in generating the ital
data at the micro leel on dailv rainall. soil iniltration rates. catchment slopes. land coer and
PL1 which determine the potential inlows: and eaporation rates that determine the potential
outlows. lurther or small water haresting project. implemented bv local agencies and NGOs
with small budgets. cost o hvdrological inestigations and planning is hard to justiv. Oten.
proision or such items is not made in small water haresting projects.

1hat said. the amount o runo which a water haresting structure could capture.
depends not onlv on the total quantum o runo. but also on how it occurs. A total annual
runo o 20 cm occurring oer a catchment o one sq. km. can generate a surace low o 0.20
M(M. But the amount that could be captured depends on the pattern. As Garg 198, points
out. in arid and semi arid regions in India. high intensitv rainalls o short duration are quite
common source: Garg. 198 as cited in Athawale. 2003: ligure 24,. 1hese runos generate
lash lood
. I the entire runo occurs in a major rainall eent. the runo collection eiciencv
would reduce with reducing capacitv o the structures built. I large structures are built to

Manv parts o Kachchh. which records one o the lowest mean annual rainalls 350 mm,
experienced loods during 1992 and 2003 with manv \l structures oerlowing. llash lood occurs een
in some o the semi arid and water scarce basins such as Sabarmati and Banas Kumar. 2002b,.
capture high intensitv runo therebv increasing the runo collection eiciencv. that would mean
inlating cost per unit olume o water captured. In act. authors such as Oweis. lachum and
Kijne 1999, hae argued that runo haresting should be encouraged in arid area onlv i the
harested water is directlv dierted to the crops or use.

Gien the data on inlows and runo collection eiciencies. predicting the impacts on
local hvdrological regime is also extremelv complex. requiring accurate data on geological and
geo-hvdrological proiles. and ariables.

In lieu o the aboe described diiculties in assessing the eectie storage. unit costs are
worked out on the basis o the design storage capacitv o the structures and thump rules about
number o illings. Shri Viekananda Research and 1raining Institute. Mandi. Kachchh. which
had done pioneering work in the ield o artiicial groundwater recharge in India. oten resorts to
this thumb rule to ealuate the cost eectieness o recharge structures thev built in Kachchh
see or instance Raju 1995,,. 1he recent book bv Dr. R. N. Athawale on rainwater haresting in
India though had coered a gamut o technical aspects o water haresting in dierent regions o
India. does not deal with economics issues see or instance Athawale. 2003,.

Scale considerations are extremelv important in ealuating the cost and economics o
water harestinggroundwater recharge structures because o the hvdrological integration o
catchments at the leel o watershed and rier basins. 1he cost and economics o water
haresting svstems cannot be perormed or indiidual svstems in isolation. when the amount o
surplus water aailable in a basin is limited. 1his is because incremental structures do not result
in proportional increase in the hvdrological beneits Kumar. 2000a,. as interentions in the
upper catchments reduce the potential hvdrological beneits rom the lower svstems. \hat is
important is the incremental hvdrological beneits due to the new structure. A svstem in itsel
mav be cost eectie and economicallv iable i ealuated independentlv. but. i ealuated as a
part o a large-scale water-haresting interention at the leel o rier basins. the svstem mav not
be justiiable rom cost angle when compared against the additional beneit it brings in.

In anv basin. the marginal beneit rom a new water haresting structure would be
smaller at higher degrees o basin deelopment. while the marginal cost higher see ligure 2,.
1he reason being: 1| higher the degree o basin deelopment. lower would be the chances or
getting sociallv and economicallv iable sites or building water impounding structures.
increasing the economic and inancial cost o haresting eerv unit o water: and 2| with higher
degree o deelopment. the social and enironmental costs o haresting eerv unit o water
increases lrederick. 1993,. reducing the net economic alue o beneits. 1hereore. the cost and
economic ealuation should moe rom watershed to basin leel. As ligure 1 indicates. the leel
at which basin deelopment can be carried out depends on whether we consider the lows in a
wet vear or drv vear or a normal vear. Neertheless. there is a stage o deelopment marked bv
O in the chart, bevond which the negatie social. economic and enironmental beneits starts
accruing. reducing the oerall beneits. lere. O is the optimum leel o water resource

But. it is important to keep in mind that the negatie social and enironmental eects o
oer-appropriation o basin`s water resources mav be borne bv a communitv liing in one part o
the basin. while the beneits are accrued to a communitv liing in another part. Ideallv. water
deelopment projects in a basin should meet the needs and interests o dierent stakeholders
liing in dierent parts. 1hereore. optimum leel o water deelopment should not aim at
maximizing the net basin leel beneits. but rather optimizing the net hvdrological and socio-
economic beneits or dierent stakeholders and communities across the basin. lence. it is
basin-wide optimization. 1hat said. in certain situations. the local economic beneits rom R\l
against the economic costs themseles mav be questionable. But. such interentions could be
justiied i there are potential social beneits o changing patterns o water aailabilitv and use. in
terms o increasing water aailabilitv to poorer armers with low capabilitv land holdings. But
such decisions should be based on ealuation o alternatie strategies to meet the local water
needs o the poor.

Now the abilitv to derie economic beneit o recharge depends on where the recharged
water ends up. In regions underlain bv hard rock geologv. the groundwater low patterns are
quite complex. Oten. the beneits are recharge structures extend up to a ew kilometers
downstream or upstream depending on the pattern o occurrence o geological structures such
as lineaments. ractures and dvkes source: based on Muralidharan and Athawale. 1998,. 1racing
the recharge water in such situations would require sophisticated studies inoling isotopes. 1his
is a common problem in the hard rock areas o Saurashtra. Kachchh. north Karnataka and 1amil
Nadu where large-scale water harestinggroundwater recharge interentions are taken up
through check dams. ponds and percolation tanks. Oten the communities. or whom
inestment or recharge svstem are made. do not get the beneit Moench and Kumar. 1993,. In
certain other situations. the recharge water could end up in saline aquiers.

1he economics o R\l would also be a unction o the incremental alue o beneits
accrued rom the use o newlv-added water. Apart rom the recharge olume. the alue o the
use to which the additional water is put is extremelv important in determining the incremental
beneits. an issue oten ignored in the project planning. Oten. the beneits o R\lS are not
clearlv identiied or understood. \hile the cost o water haresting is signiicant. it is critical to
diert the new water to high-alued uses. Phadtare 1988, pointed out that recharge projects
would be economicallv iable in alluial north Gujarat i the water is dierted or irrigation. as
structures are expensie. \ield losses due to moisture stress are extremelv high in arid and semi-
arid regions and that proiding a ew protectie irrigations could enhance vield and water
productiitv o rain-ed crops remarkablv. especiallv during drought vears Rockstrom et al..
2003,. 1he aailable extra water harested rom monsoon rains should thereore be dierted to
supplementarv irrigation in drought vears.

1here are regions where human and cattle drinking become high prioritv demands.
North western Rajasthan. which is arid and dominated bv pastoral communities. named Cviiar..
is one such example. 1he social and economic alue realized rom the use o water or human
drinking and liestock use. respectielv. would be much more than the economic alue realized
rom its use in irrigating crops. In such situations. water should be dierted or such uses where
the opportunitv costs are low and net alue products are high. But proper water use planning to
realize maximum alue rom the added water is largelv missing in water haresting eorts.


4.3 Lack of Integrated Approach

In manv rier basins. the surace water svstems and groundwater svstems are oten inter-
connected. Anv alterations made in one o them could change the aailabilitv o water in the
other Sohiquilo. 1985: Llamas. 2000,. In manv hillv areas. especiallv in the \estern Ghats. the
water leels rise steeplv ater monsoon. and groundwater contributes signiicantlv to the stream
lows downstream during lean seasons due to the steep groundwater low gradients. In that case.
anv water haresting interention to store water underground mav not make much sense as it
would get rejected and appear as surace lows Mavva. 2005,. On the other hand. in regions
with deep water table conditions like in north Gujarat. the runo directlv moes into the
groundwater svstems o the plains through the sandv rier bed as dewatering o the upper
aquiers increases the rate and cumulatie percolation Kumar. 2002b,.

\ith 23
o the countrv`s geographical area underlain bv hard rock ormations. storage
capacitv o aquiers poses a major challenge or artiicial recharge. Most parts o water-scarce
states. iz.. Gujarat. Madhva Pradesh. Maharashtra. Karnataka. Andhra Pradesh. Orissa.
(hhattisgarh and 1amil Nadu are underlain bv hard rocks ranging rom basalt. crvstalline
granite. hill aquiers and sandstone. A small areas in Gujarat has extensie alluium. Narmada
allev and (ambav basin, see Map 5,. 1he hard rock aquiers hae no primarv porositv and
hae onlv secondarv porositv. 1he constraints imposed bv hard rock geologv in recharge eorts
through percolation tanks are: high depth to water table below and around the recharge structure
Iigure 2: Marginal Cost and Benefits of Water-harvesting with different degrees of
Basin Development


Marginal benefit (Social,
Environmental and



Degree of Water Development
Wet Year
Dry Year

due to occurrence o recharge mount and shallow bed rocks. which preent percolation o water
Muralidharan. 1990 as cited in Muralidharan and Athawale. 1998,: and low iniltration capacitv
o the thin soils oerlaving the hard rock ormations. Due to low speciic vield 0.01-0.03,. sharp
rise in water leels is obsered in aquiers during monsoon. leaing little space or iniltration
rom structures. \hile harnessing water or recharge is extremelv important during normal and
wet vears. the natural recharge in hard rock ormation is high during such vears as it is a unction
o seasonal rainall based on regression equations shown in ligure in Athawale. 2003,. urther
reducing the scope or artiicial recharge.

In Saurashtra. in spite o the poor potential oered bv low rainalls. high ariabilitv. and
high eaporation rates see Map 1-3,. signiicant recharge eorts were made. But. the biggest
constraint in storing water underground during high rainall vears is the poor storage capacitv or
speciic vield o the basalt ormations. During good rainall vears. the aquiers get saturated with
natural recharge immediatelv ater the rains. leaing no space or entrv o water rom the
recharge svstems Kumar. 2000a,. An estimated 20.000 check dams built in the region to capture
the rainwater and recharge the aquiers are able to store onlv small raction o the surplus runo.
In such situations. proper water use programming is required to achiee eectie utilization o
the aailable surplus water. where in water rom aquiers is pumped out and used during the
rainv season itsel therebv creating storage space or the incoming lows Muralidharan and
Athawale. 1990: Shah. 2002,.

1he groundwater leel luctuation data obtained rom Ghelo rier basin in Saurashtra
illustrate this. 1he basin had experienced intensie water-haresting since 1995. 1he data were
collected rom open wells located inside the basin periodicallv during and ater the monsoon
rains. 1he wells located close to the water haresting structures and those awav rom the
structures are demarcated. 1he water leel luctuation in the wells in relation to the rainall
eents was analvzed and presented in ligure 3. 1he time series data shows that the wells close to
water haresting structures get replenished aster than those located awav rom the structures.
But. these wells start oerlowing ater the irst major wet spell. while the second categorv o
wells show similar trends ater the second wet spells. Another interesting obseration is the
Figure 3: Water Level Fluctuation in Wells in Fulzar, Ghelo River
Rainfall, mm Nr-Median Far-Median
steep rise in water leels in wells located both close to and awav rom the water haresting
structures soon ater the irst wet spells. It is in the order o 35-40 eet. 1he steep rise in water
leels is indicatie o the poor speciic vield o the aquier in the area
. as the magnitude o
cumulatie rainall that had caused this luctuation is quite small nearlv 200 mm,.

4.4 1rade off between Local Vs Basin Impacts in Closed Basins

Due to lack o integration between plans or water haresting at the local leel and basin
leel water resource deelopment. R\l oten leads to oer-appropriation o surace water in
rier basins. \hile planning o conentional water deelopment projects is based on dependable
vields rom the catchments. the plans or \l which happen subsequentlv do not take into
account the committed lows` or downstream reseroirwater diersion svstems.

Also. there is an increasing tendencv to beliee that because these structures are too
small that thev are benign Batchelor et at.. 2002, though present in large numbers in most cases.
1he primarv reason or this is that the agencies which are concerned with small water haresting
in the upper catchment, and those which are concerned with major head- works are dierent
and thev do not act in coordinated ashion at the leel o the basin. Building o small water
haresting svstems such as tanks. check dams is oten the responsibilitv o minor irrigation
circles o irrigation department or district arms o the rural deelopment departments o the
states concerned. 1his ad hoc approach to planning oten leads to oer-appropriation o the
basin water. with negatie consequences or large schemes downstream Kumar et at.. 2000,.

Data collected rom Ghelo rier basin shows that the inlows into Ghelo-Somnath
reseroir had signiicantlv reduced ater intensie water haresting work was undertaken in the
upper catchment. 1he total number o structures in the upper catchment area o 59.5 sq. km
is... ligure 4 shows the catchment rainall and runo in Ghelo-Somnath. Ater 1995. the vear
which saw intensie water haresting work. the reseroir oerlowed onlv in 2005 when the
rainall recorded was 89 mm. \hile reduction in runo could be attributed to rainall reduction
as well. rainall-runo regressions were carried out or two time periods i.e.. 1969-1995 and
1995-2005. 1he regression equations clearlv show that the relationship between rainall and
runo had changed ater water haresting interentions see ligure 5,. lor the same amount o
rainall. the runo generated is now low. Or in other words. the amount o rainall required or
illing the reseroir had now increased rom 320 mm to 800 mm. \hile this is theoreticallv true.
the actual runo receied bv the station might actuallv dier as there are manv actors other
than just rainall magnitude which determines the runo rates. 1hough the cures intersect. at
high magnitudes o rainall. this is not a problem as such high rainall does not occur in the
basin. and the cure needs to be considered onlv or the rainall regime o the basin.

1he speciic vield can be estimated as the ratio o the rise in water leel m, and the cumulatie
rainall m, that is responsible or the water leel luctuation. i we consider the lateral lows in
groundwater as negligible and assume that pumping rom the obseration wells during the time o
recharge is zero. 1he rise in water leel is between 10.5 and 12 m and the rainall is 0.2 m.
Manv large and important rier basins in India. which are also acing water scarcitv. are
now closed` or do not hae uncommitted lows that are utilizable through conentional
engineering interentions. Some o them are Pennar. (auerv and Vaigai in the South based on
GOI 1999: pp 42-4,. and Sabarmati. Banas in the west. which are closed. In addition to
these. all the west-lowing riers in Saurashtra and Kachchh in Gujarat are also closed Kumar.
2002,. \hile Krishna basin is on the erge o closure. some o the basins which are still open`
are Godhaari and Mahanadi in the east based on GOI 1999: pp 466-469,.

Sabarmati basin. or instance. haing a drainage area o 21.68 sq. km. has a utilizable
surace low o 1513.4 M(M allocated to Gujarat Kumar and Singh. 2001,. where as the total
lie storage capacitv o irrigation schemes built in the basin. estimated to be 140 M(M GOI.
1999, is still slightlv below this. But the basin has manv water diersion structures including
weirs and a barrage. Actuallv. the dependable runo upstream o the reseroirsdiersion
structures in the basin is ar below the planned water utilization estimated to be 1560 M(M as
per Kumar and Singh 2001,, leaing no spill oer. At the aggregate leel. the basin is oer-
appropriated. At the sub-basin leel. the scenario is dierent. 1wo o the sub-basins. iz..
Dharoi and lathmati are heailv oer-appropriated Kumar et at.. 2000,. Still. one o the sub-
basins. named \atrak. has uncommitted lows Kumar and Singh. 2001,. which eentuallv end
up in the Gul o (ambav.

Figure 3: Ghelo-Somnath Rainfall and Reservoir Inflows
9 1 J 5
Total Rainfall, Cms Total Roff, Cms
It is hard to judge whether a basin is closed or open on the basis o the storage capacitv
o reseroirs and the dependable lows. as manv reseroirs also diert a lot o water during
monsoon season. making the eectie water utilization more than the lie storage capacitv.
ligure 3 shows the ratio o total lie storage o reseroirs built. being built and proposed, in 1
major rier basins in India against the dependable runo in these basins. It shows that or manv
basins. the ratio is ar less than 100 per cent. leaing the impression that there is much more
uncommitted lows in the basin or uture harnessing. But this is not correct. 1ake or instance
Narmada basin. 1he total lie storage olume o all terminal dam built in Narmada. i.e.. Sardar
Saroar. is 5800 M(M. where as the total water utilization rom this reseroir is 11. 200 M(M.
All the 30 large and 135 medium reseroirs together would diert a total o 30.588 M(M o
water or irrigation and arious other purposes N\DA. 2004,. But the total lie storage o
these reseroirs would be much less. i.e.. 23.90 M(M GOI. 1999: pp 36,. 1his is because a
signiicant amount o water would be dierted rom these reseroirs or khari irrigation within
the basin and outside. particularlv rom Sardar Saroar reseroir. Again the estimates o stage o
deelopment do not take into account the reseroirs haing lie storage capacitv o less than 10

4.5 1rade off between Lconomics and Hydrological Opportunity

Regions with semi arid and arid climate experience extreme hvdrological eents lurd et
at.. 1999,. As we hae seen in section 4.1.1. high inter-annual ariabilitv in rainall is a common
phenomenon in most parts o these water-scarce regions. Rainall ariabilitv induces higher
degree o ariabilitv in runo. Such high ariabilitv is ound een in the high rainall regions as
well as low rainall regions. \e take the example o the upper catchment area o (auerv basin
in peninsular India and one o the catchments o Sabarmati Rier basin in North Gujarat o
western India.

In Palanpur area o Banaskantha district in north Gujarat. which has semi arid to arid
climatic conditions. the rainall records show a ariation rom a lowest o 56mm in 198 to
1584mm in 190. 1he runo estimated on the basis o regression equation deeloped or a sub-
basin. named. lathmati o Sabarmati basin in north Gujarat. which is phvsiographicallv quite
similar to Palanpur area o Banaskantha. shows that the runo can arv rom a lowest o 0.6mm
Figure 5: Impact of Water Harvesting on Inflows in Reservoir:
y = 7.7637Ln(x) - 17.328
= 0.4577
y = 0.0009x
= 0.491
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
Rainfall (cm)

to 541mm. But the occurrence o actual runo could be dierent rom this based on how other
ariables that are not considered in the regression iz.. the intensitv and pattern oer space and
time, o rainall. inluence the runo intensitv. 1hus the lowest runo is close to 11000
o the
highest runo. 1hough what can occurs at the sub-basin leel mav not be representatie o that
in small upper catchments. the dierence cannot be drastic. Len or a humid. high rainall
region o \avanad district in Kerala. the runo estimated or a small catchment o Karappuzha
on the basis o the rainall-runo relationship deeloped or Kabani sub-basin catchment area
o 040 sq. km, o (auerv rier basin. to which the area alls. and the obsered rainall o the
area. range rom 528mm in the lowest rainall vear 2002, to 1458mm in the highest rainall vear
1994, in a 31-vear period rom 193-2003.

\hen there is a high inter-annual ariabilitv in the runo a catchment generates. a major
planning question which arises is or what capacitv the water haresting svstem should be
designed`. \hen scarcitv is acute. highest consideration is gien to capturing all the water that is
aailable. I all the runo which occurs in a high rainall vear is to be captured. then the cost o
building the storage svstem would be manv hundred times more than what is required to capture
the one which occurs during the lowest rainall. But. the svstem would receie water to ill onlv
a small raction o its storage capacitv in the rest o the vears. 1his could make it cost-ineectie.
1he issue o ariabilitv is applicable to the design o large head works as well. But. in large
svstems. the water in excess o the storage capacitv could be dierted or irrigation and other
uses to areas which ace water shortages during the same season. therebv increasing the eectie

In order to illustrate this point. we use the data generated rom Ghelo rier basin in
Saurashtra. 1he basin has a total catchment area o 59. 20 sq. km. It had a medium irrigation
reseroir with a storage capacitv o 5.68 M(M and has been unctional since 1966. On the basis
o inlow data o the reseroir or the period 1969-95 showed that the total runo generated in
the basin aried rom zero in the vear corresponding to a rainall o 39 mm to a maximum o
1.8 M(M in the vear corresponding to a rainall o 120 mm. 1odav. the total capacitv o
water haresting svstems built in the upstream o Ghelo reseroir is 0.15 M(M. During the
period rom 1969 to 2005. the reseroir showed oerlow or 13 vears with a total quantum o
60.936 M(M. I one million cubic metres o runo had to be captured in addition to the 5.89
M(M that would be captured bv the medium irrigation reseroir. it would cost around 0.09
o water. while capturing 3 M(M would cost 0.11 Xm
o water. I the maximum runo
obsered in the basin. i.e.. 1.85 M(M has to be captured. the total olume o water captured
would be onlv 60.91 M(M. in which case the unit cost o water haresting would be around 0.21
o water. lere. X` is the cost o storage structures or creating an eectie storage space
o one M(M. lere. again. we are not considering the incremental inancial cost o the special
structures or capturing high magnitudes o runo. which cause lash lood.

4.6 Maximizing Local Benefits Vs Optimum Benefits for Basin Communities

Generallv. in anv rier basin. the upper catchments are rich in terms o their abilitv to
contribute to the basin vields. 1his is mainlv because o the unique phvsiographical eatures. and
partlv because o the climatic conditions--such as steep slopes. high rainall in the mountains.
and high humiditv--. which proide aourable enironment or runo generation. 1he upper
catchments also proide good source o base lows due to orest coer which causes aourable
conditions or water storage and iniltration. On the demand side. these regions generallv are less
endowed in terms o aailabilitv o arable land. Oer and aboe. the demand rates or irrigation
are generallv low. On the other hand. the lower catchments are generallv characterized bv lower
rainalls and higher leels o ariditv rainall deicit to meet L1 demands, and better access to
arable land. increasing the aggregate demand or irrigation.

1here are numerous examples or this. A ew to cite are: the upper catchment o
(auerv basin in the south. Narmada basins in central India. Sabarmati basin in western India.
tributaries o Indus in the north western India. Krishna basin in (entral India and Mahanadi
basin in eastern India. Some parts o Kabani sub-basin o (auerv rier basin hae cold and
semi humid climate. and parts o this sub-basin receies the second highest rainall in India ater
(hirapunji with the mean annual rainalls crossing 4000 mm. Irrigation demands in these regions
are low owing to high precipitation and low reerence eapo-transpiration. and low per capita
aailabilitv o arable land. On the other hand. the lower parts o (auerv in 1amil Nadu are hit
bv scarcitv o water or irrigation owing to lower rainalls and high eapo-transpiration.

\e hae deined the agricultural water demand as a unction o per capita net sown area
and the ratio o L1
reerence eapo-transpiration, and rainall: and water aailabilitv as a
unction o rainall. It is assumed that: higher the L1
R ratio. higher would be the irrigation
requirement or a unit o land: higher the per capita rural population, net sown area. higher
would be the aggregate demand or irrigation per capita. 1able 4 shows the estimated alues o
two selected agricultural water demand ariables. iz.. L1
R and per capita arable land: and one
water aailabilitv ariable. i.e.. rainall. It also shows that the irrigation demand is much higher in
the lower catchment areas. and aailabilitv higher in upper catchments in all these six important

Major water resourceirrigation projects undertaken in the past tap stream lows
generated rom the upper catchments. but cater to either the lower parts o these basins or other
less water endowed regions outside these basins Verghese. 2001 and 2002,. Bakhra reseroir
and Nangal diersion projects located in the high rainall Shialik hills o limachal Pradesh
essentiallv cater to the raenous low rainall and drought prone regions o Punjab and scantv
rainall regions o Rajasthan Verghese. 2002,: the Sardar Saroar dam harnesses water rom
ample rainall areas in Narmada allev and takes it to the drought-prone areas o north Gujarat
and Saurashtra which are characterized bv low and erratic rainall Verghese. 2001,. Similarlv. the
large reseroir projects in (auerv transer water to the drought-prone regions in 1amil Nadu
and Karnataka. As such the water demand or irrigation is extremelv low in the upper

More oer. as irrigation water use eiciencv and water productiitv are likelv to be high
in areas with ariabilitv in rainall and high drought- proneness Rockstrm. 2002,. with transer
o water rom the well-endowed regions to the poorlv-endowed regions. the economic alue o
water in agriculture increases. 1he recent research carried out bv I\MI in water-scarce and land-
rich western Punjab and water-rich and land-scarce eastern Uttar Pradesh showed that the alue
o water realized rom irrigation is much higher in Punjab than in eastern UP. 1he economic
alue o water was Rs. 14.85m
in western Punjab. where as it was Rs. 11m
in eastern Uttar
Pradesh. Due to scarcitv o water. the armers in Punjab make better economic use o water bv
choosing cropping svstems that are economicallv more eicient and doing agronomic practices
to obtain higher vields. higher phvsical productiitv and economic eiciencv Kumar. Malla and
1ripathv. 2006,.

But. oten water haresting initiaties. especiallv those bv NGOs. are drien bv
considerations other than economic eiciencv. most important o which are social equitv and
enironmental justice. Impounding water in the upper catchments might sere social objecties
o meeting drinking water requirements.

As eident rom the aboe illustrations. there is a clear trade o between meeting
economic eiciencv objecties. and these deelopmental goals. 1hereore. anv water resource
interention in the upper catchment areas which reduce the downstream uses should be done
with due consideration to the net change in gross alue product` o water in the basin due to
the interentions. 1he gross alue product` can be deined as the sum total o the incremental
alue product rom the economic uses. enironmental serices and social uses the basin`s water
resources meet. 1he amount o water to be captured upstream through R\l interentions
should also be optimized to derie maximum regional social equitv. enironmental alue and
oerall output rom the economic uses o water. In basins where the aailable water resources
are alreadv committed closed basins,. the challenge is bigger as maximizing the gross alue
product might mean reallocating some water rom one low alued use to a high alued use.

1able 4: Comparison of Agricultural Water Demand Variables in Upper and Lower
Catchment Districts of Selected Indian River Basins
Mean annual
rainall mm, in
Mean Annual
mm, in

Per (apita
Net Sown
Name o
Name o
Name o
District L(D,
Sabarmati Dungarpur Ahmedabad 643. 821.0 1263.0 188.8 1.96 2.18 0.14 0.4
Indus Shimla Ludhiana 159.0 525.0 986.60 1698.6 0.62 3.24 0.14 0.25
Narmada Shahdol Jhabua 1352.0 92.04 1639.0 212.0 1.21 2.69 0.35 0.35
(auerv \avanad Nagapattianan 3283.0 133.0 1586.9 1852.5 0.48 1.39 0.18 0.13
Krishna Raigarh Guntur 1029.0 185.9 1.4 0.13 0.22
Mahanadi Raipur Puri 1388.0 1440.0 166.0 166.0 1.20 1.16 0.18 0.06
U(D: Upper catchment district: L(D: Lower (atchment District
Source: authors` own estimates based on Agricultural Statistics o India and lAO data on precipitation
R, and reerence eapo-transpiration PL1,


lollowing are the major indings emerging rom an extensie reiew o the research on
water haresting in India. and a macro analvsis o the critical issues in rainwater haresting rom
the point o iew o hvdrological opportunities. economic iabilitv and socioeconomic impacts
when scale considerations are inoled.

Macro leel hvdrological analvsis shows that rainwater haresting solutions oers extremelv
limited potential in terms o its abilitv to reduce the demand-supplv imbalances and proide
reliable supplies in water scarce regions. 1he reason being: a| signiicant part o these regions
states 1 and 2, are characterized bv low mean annual rainalls. high inter-annual ariabilitv in
rainall. with high potential eaporation and larger share o eaporation occurring during
rainv season. reducing the runo potential and increasing the occurrence o hvdrological
stresses: and b| another signiicant part is characterized bv medium rainalls. with medium
inter-annual ariabilitv. but medium to high eaporation`. making surace storage diicult.

A large part o the water-scarce regions. which all under the medium rainall-medium to
high eaporation` regime are underlain bv hard rock ormations such as basalt. crvstalline
rocks and other consolidated ormations such as sandstones. 1he percolation tanks. the
most preerred recharge structures. are likelv to hae low eiciencv in these hard rock areas
and also areas haing siltv clav and clavev soils. In high rainall. and medium eaporation
regions which experience high reliabilitv in rainall such as parts o Orissa and western Ghat.
the oerall potential and reliabilitv o water supplies rom R\lS would be high.

Ineicient recharging in hard rocks is due to lack o integration o groundwater and surace
water use. In these regions. planning o recharge schemes should consider surace water
impoundment o all the aailable excess lows. than direct recharge. 1his should be ollowed
bv water use programming to create underground storage or incoming surace lows.
loweer. this is not ollowed. 1he data on water leel luctuations collected rom Ghelo
rier basin in Saurashtra show that wells in the icinitv o check dams start oerlowing
during the monsoon due to lack o storage capacitv in the shallow aquier which gets

Manv water-scarce regions hae water demands which ar exceed the supplies. with
ulnerabilitv to hvdrological stresses. that thev would require exogenous water.

Lconomic ealuation o water harestinggroundwater recharge svstems poses seeral
complexities due to the diicultv in quantiving the inlows. the storage and recharge
eiciencv. and the economic alue o the incremental beneits. which are social. direct
economic and ecological or enironmental. Data or water haresting structures constructed
in the upper catchment shows a storage capacitv o 0.15 M(M. At the same time. the
estimated inlow reduction in the reseroir downstream Ghelo-Somnath, was not ound to
be constant. but a unction o the rainall itsel. At below normal to normal rainall. the low
reduction was highest where as at higher leels o rainall. the dierence appear to be

Scale considerations are extremelv important in ealuating the cost and economics o water
harestinggroundwater recharge structures because o the integration o catchments at the
leel o rier basins. 1he economics o water haresting cannot be perormed or structures
based on their indiidual beneits and costs. when the amount o surplus water aailable in a
basin is limited: but on the basis o incremental beneits. lurther. higher in degree o basin
deelopment. higher will be the marginal cost and lower would be the marginal beneit.

1he basins which experience high inter-annual ariabilitv in the stream lows are manv and
coer signiicant areas in India. In such basins. the trade o between hvdrological impacts o
water haresting and economic beneits is likelv to be large. \ith increasing storage capacitv
o R\l svstems. the economic iabilitv becomes poorer as the aerage cost o water
haresting per unit olume o water increases. 1he historical data on reseroir inlow
obtained or Ghelo rier catchment illustrate this.

In closed basins`. there is apparent trade o between local beneits and downstream
beneits. US diersions reduce the prospects o storage and diersions svstems ds.
Lxamples o closed basins are rier basins in north Gujarat. Saurashtra. Kachchh. western
Rajasthan and basins in Peninsular India. such as (auerv. Pennar and Vaigai. Narmada is
another basin which in immediate uture would join this categorv o rier basins. 1he
detailed hvdrological data collected rom Ghelo rier basin in Saurashtra also illustrate this.

In manv important basins. there is an apparent trade o between maximizing oerall
beneits or basin communities in terms o enhancing the gross alue product o water. and
maximizing the local beneits o water haresting. 1his is owing to the act that in these
basins. water rom well-endowed regions with low water demands is being dierted to
poorlv-endowed regions with high water demands. enhancing its social and economic alue.
Noteworthv examples are Indus in northwestern India. (auerv and Krishna in the southern
Peninsula. Narmada in central India and Sabarmati basin in western India.


6.J vbavcivg Kvorteage ot Catcbvevt yarotogy: in water haresting. what is least
understood is the catchment hvdrologv. Most small riers in India are not gauged or
stream lows and siltation. Lxample is Narmada rier basin. It has a total o 56 gauging
sites o which 25 collect data on siltation load. Data on siltation rates are oten aailable
or large reseroirs rom siltation studies done bv (entral Board o Irrigation and Power
(BIP,. But applving this to small catchments can lead to either under-estimation o
siltation rates as siltation rates are generallv high or hillv upper catchments. On the
other hand. applving rainall-runo relationships o large basins or small upper
catchments would result in under-estimation o runo. as small upper catchments would
normallv hae steeper slopes. 1he scale problems in hvdrologv are well documented see
Siapalan and Kalma. 1995: \ood et at.. 1990,

1hough runo data can be generated or streams which otherwise are not gauged.
through runo modeling. scientiic data on hvdrological parameters such as soil
iniltration characteristics. weather data. land use characteristics. catchment slopes are
essential to arrie at reliable results Lans and Jakeman. undated: Jakeman et at.. 1994,.
Managing hvdrological data or small catchments is still a major challenge in India

6.2 Re.earcb to ocv. ov Creev a. rett a. tve !ater: Green water reers to the water in the
soil proile which is directlv used bv natural egetation and crop land in the orm o
beneicial transpiration and non-beneicial eaporation
. where as blue water reers to the
water dierted rom natural svstems both surace and underground, or arious human
uses. 1he central ocus o anv rainwater haresting project in India is about capturing the
excess water which lows out o the domain o interest. storing and subsequentlv
dierting it or beneicial uses. But. green water is an important component o the
hvdrological svstem and the water harested in tanks. Kbaaiv. percolation pond and obaa.
1he ocus has neer been on improing the eiciencv o utilization o this green water.

The concept of green water was first introduced by Prof. Malin Falkenmark in 1995.
lor anv basin. it is crucial to know how much o the total precipitation alling on the
basin is aailable as green water and how much o it gets used up in crop production:
how much o it is lost in non-beneicial eaporation rom the soil.

In high rainall regions like Kerala. the utilizable surace water resources are much less in
comparison to the runo generated. lere. eectie strategies to capture runo in situ
or crop production through proper land use planning--including increasing area under
paddv--. would help improe green as well as blue water use. and alter the hvdrologv

6.3 a.iv !ater accovvtivg ava !ater atavce: or anv water scarce rier basin in India. water
accounting is the irst and the most important step to begin with beore planning anv
water haresting and recharge project. It is important to know whether the basin has anv
surplus lows. which goes into the natural sink. or signiicant amount o water that is lost
in eaporation rom natural depressions. 1his can be ollowed bv water balance studies
to examine what percentage o the water could be captured without causing negatie
eects on the downstream uses. But. both water accounting and water balance studies
should be carried out or tvpical rainall vears so as to capture hvdrological ariabilitv.

6.4 !et !ater arivg: In rier basin which experience high ariditv during the summer
months. the water stored in tanks. pond and other small reseroirs can lead to heav
losses through eaporation. I this is preented. it can lead to wet or real, water saing.
through increase in output per unit o depleted water. Directlv dierting the harested
water rom the R\l svstem to the crop land is critical to maximizing the net
hvdrological gain. especiallv in areas with poor groundwater storage or areas
experiencing high inter-annual ariabilitv in runo Oweis. luchum and Kijne. 2002,.
Allocation o blue water harnessed to rain-ed crops to aoid moisture stress during
critical stages o crop growth would increase the vield crops remarkablv Seckler. 1996:
Rockstrom et at.. 2002,. therebv increasing the productiitv o green as well as blue water.
In the case o sub-saharan Arica. Rockstrom et at.. 2002, showed that the vield could be
doubled in certain cases through hvdro-climatic alterations.


In the most water-scarce regions o India. R\l oers limited potential. In manv other
regions. which hae medium rainalls. but experience medium to high eaporation`. the poor
groundwater potential o hard rock which underlie these regions pose a constraint or
recharging. 1his was illustrated bv water leel luctuation data in wells o Ghelo rier basin in
Saurashtra. Lconomic ealuation o water haresting svstems poses seeral complexities due to
the problems in quantiving the hvdrological impacts. and the arious beneits. Lconomics o
water haresting cannot be worked out or structures on the basis o indiidual beneits. but on
the basis o incremental beneit. In manv water-scarce basins. there is a strong trade o between
maximizing the hvdrological beneits rom R\l and making them cost eectie. In manv
water-scarce basins. R\l interentions lead to distribution o hvdrological beneits. rather than
augmentation. 1his was also illustrated bv historical low series data rom Ghelo rier basin.
1here is an optimum leel o water haresting which a basin can undergo which can help
optimize the gross alue product o water is-a-is economic. social and enironmental outputs
basin-wide. \hile there are some areas or research. rom the point o iew o action. the
ollowing steps seem to be important to make water haresting more eicacious: 1| deeloping a
better understanding o catchment hvdrologv: 2| deeloping basin water accounting and balance:
3| ocusing on wet water saing: and 4| enhancing the productiitv o green water in the basin.


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Map 2: Average Annual Lvaporation

Map J: Average Mean Annual Rainfall

Map 5: Aquifer System in India

Map 3: Average Coefficient of Variation of

Map 4: Average Rainy Days