Water mining in India and its consequences

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Water mining causes not just the depletion of water, a non-renewable source, but it is ironically raising sea-levels. Little drops of water are making a mighty ocean in that sense. Here’s trying to understand what water mining really is, its situation in India, and technological solutions available to protect this precious resource.

Definitions:

  • Fossil water or paleowater is groundwater that has remained sealed in an aquifer for a long period of time. Water can rest underground in “fossil aquifers” for thousands or even millions of years. When changes in the surrounding geology seal the aquifer off from further replenishing from precipitation, the water becomes trapped within, and is known as fossil water. Fossil water is, by definition, a non-renewable resource. Whereas most aquifers are naturally replenished by infiltration of water from precipitation, fossil aquifers are those that get little or no recharge. – Wikipedia
  • The extraction of water from such non-replenishing groundwater reserves (known as low safe-yield reserves) is known in hydrology as water mining. If water is pumped from a well at a withdrawal rate that exceeds the natural recharge rate (which is very low or zero for a fossil aquifer), the water table drops, forming a depression in the water levels around the well. – Wikipedia

Situation:

“The Story of Water in India” outlines the food/water/energy crisis in India, and presents different solutions the Columbia Water Center is pursuing in the country.

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  • “Nearly a third of India is suffering from chronic water shortages, and making up for it with “the world’s largest groundwater mining operation,” according to experts…… For about half of the country, their analysis suggests, if people used small-scale “rainwater harvesting”—capturing rain and storing it in tanks and ponds—they would have much of the water they needed, assuming they continued to grow the same types of crops….. In other parts of India, though, rainwater harvesting alone won’t be enough to avoid depleting groundwater further, the study suggests.So the team is studying how farmers could shift the crops they grow to ones that require less water.” – National Geographic
  • “But a new study shows that global warming is not the only cause of swelling seas. Much comes from “water mining” – the pumping of vast amounts of groundwater from beneath the earth, mainly to irrigate crops. This inevitably ends up in the oceans after it evaporates from farmland and comes down as rain.”The Telegraph
Technological solutions:
  • Production of drinking water from extracting moisture from atmosphere. These devices are called Atmospheric water generators.
  • Netafim has found a solution to cater to the drip-irrigation problems of India’s fragmented farms. – Forbes India Read more: Drip Irrigation Technology to save Water and Enhance Crop Yields
  • In some states rainwater harvesting has been made compulsory for every building, ancient water harvesting systems in Rajasthan have now been revived. An attempt has been made at Dept. of Chemical Engineering, IISc, Bangalore to harvest rainwater using upper surface of a solar still, which was used for water distillation.

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Last Edited: January 12 2018

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