Our Projects- Ground Water Management at Neemrana, Rajasthan

GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT AT NEEMRANA

Our initiative has the potential to help decrease the groundwater abstraction in the region by approx. 23% and reduce the overall runoff in the region by as much as 40%

Project Location

The Ground Water Management initiative led by SABMiller India is located in Neemrana, District Alwar, Rajasthan, an industrial town located between Delhi and Jaipur. The area is part of the National Capital Region (NCR).The areas adjoining the Delhi- Jaipur National Highway have seen much industrial development over the last two decades or so. However, the industrialization around Neemrana is limited to the areas adjoining the highway, rest being primarily dependent on agriculture.

Based on hydro geological and surface hydrological conditions an effective target area of about 27,500 hectares has been identified for interventions. This comprises two watersheds – Neemrana and Behror of 12,500 and 15,000 hectares respectively.

Success in the field

Burning Platform

The target region is totally devoid of any exogenous water supply and survives on mainly the groundwater resource and small traditional tanks with rainwater as the only means of recharge. The entire community including the industry, the domestic users and the farming community depends almost entirely on this resource. The losses through evaporation and run off are very high in the region. The shallow (unconfined) aquifer is dead; even 100 ft deep wells are totally dry.

There are few evidences of efforts of water conservation, harvesting and recharge. The traditional water storage structures used by the community for domestic and cattle uses are poorly maintained and some even destroyed. Water is currently pumped out of the confined aquifer in the bedrock for agricultural as well as industrial uses. The looming scarcity of the resource threatens the livelihoods of the small and medium farm holders and is also a potential risk to the business and the reputation of the company due to the prevalent perception that industry and specifically the brewers in the region are water guzzlers.

The region has been designated as a grey zone by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) but the groundwater management plan for the entire NCR does not indicate concrete solutions for this particular area. Despite one of the highest ground water extractions in the world, India at large has no sound policy governing its extraction and use. Agriculture has no accountability in terms of the amount and patterns of water use. All this coupled with poorly managed energy scenario has led to wasteful and inefficient agriculture and irrigation practices. Industry, despite being regulated and bound by compliance norms is not assured of the long term sustainable availability of the resource.

Basic hydrogeology of the region

The groundwater system in the region is composed of:

  • A shallow unconfined aquifer in the alluvium formed of sand and silt
  • Shallow perched aquifers confined by clay layers from below (which are the sites for small traditional tanks)
  • Multiple deeper confined aquifers in the alluvium (due to repetitive sequences of confinements of clay layers and alluvium)
  • Deep aquifer in the bedrock

The rainwater harvesting is mainly in the tanks on the perched aquifers. The fractured rocks in the ridges facilitate the natural deep recharge. The recharge of shallow unconfined aquifer is mainly through infiltration through the soil. However, since it is totally dried up, the infiltrated water is suspected to dissipate thinly and then lost through evaporation and evapo-transpiration without showing up in the dug wells to a significant extent.

Project Partners

  • Confederation Of Indian Industry (CII) – Overall concept and scope
  • Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development & Management (ACWADAM )-Hydrogeological inputs
  • Gridline Consultancy- Remote sensing and GIS technology
  • Humana People to People- Community interventions

Project Strategy based on the above

Supply management through

  • Exploiting the natural conditions in the ridges for deep recharge
  • Building small water diversion structures in the alluvial plains for diverting water to tube wells for deep recharge
  • Demand management through enhancing water use efficiency in agriculture

Results

The efficacy of all three project activities has been demonstrated successfully. Two sets of structures have been built. 3 in ridge areas with combined storage volume of over 50,000 KL, and 2 in plain areas with combined storage volume of about 6,500 KL. The former facilitates deep recharge. And the latter soil moisture enhancement with part of the water getting deep recharged through nearby bore-wells. In a normal rainfall year, given the rainfall pattern, the structures get refilled about 6 times, thereby creating deep recharge and infiltration potential of about 300,000 KL and 39,000 KL respectively, which is more than the maximum annual requirement of the local SABMiller Unit. In 2010, following an above normal rainfall, A net rise of approximately 56 feet (18m) in local deep groundwater levels near 3 structures built in the ridge area was recorded. As for the structures built in plain areas, farmers have reported a water level rise of about 14-15 ft following a normal monsoon. This is apart from facilitating a winter crop on the basis of soil moisture without any applied irrigation.

Apart from the above 5 structures, one more structure (gabion technology) has been constructed to arrest siltation in the 2 structures built in plain areas. A 6th structure, using an innovative technology being termed as “modified gabion” structure, along with a recharge shaft for enabling deep recharge in plain areas is being constructed. The modified gabion structure will bring down the cost of water harvesting structures substantially.

Approximately 401 number of farmers are involved in demand management initiatives. Water saving in agriculture is 80,340 KL on 193 ha area covered under crop demonstration trials. Crop productivity has been enhanced by over 20%.

Knowledge Centre

The knowledge centre in Neemrana is underway. It is financed by SABMiller India and a collaborative initiative with the Central Ground Water Board, and CII. This knowledge centre will host data related to hydrology of the area, geology of the area, ground water status of the area, information related to ground water dynamics etc. It will act as a knowledge disbursement centre for farming community in the area.

Hydro Geological Study of the Target Area:

Total 103 wells at farmer’s fields spread across targeted project area have been monitored for water level to study the dynamics of ground water and its impact on water availability in the surrounding area.

A key output of the program has been the water balance estimation of the region. Its key findings are as follows:

  • Only 18% of total Ground Water use is recharged to deep aquifer from where water is currently being pumped
  • Potential run off from the basin is as high as 34.61% of the total water input
  • Agriculture is the major ground water user in the basin and consumes
  • Industrial Water use is even lesser than drinking and other uses of animal and human population in the basin

Source - CII

Water Balance: Evidence based informed dialogue with the community


Water balance model (WBM) is an important planning tool that helps assess the status of water resource sustainability and the opportunities for achieving sustainability – e.g. run-off available for additional rainwater harvesting and recharge, sites available for impounding water, improving water use efficiency in agriculture etc.

Investigations are being conducted using a combination of scientific and participatory techniques to evaluate the potential to bridge the gap between water availability and demand through the strategies outlined above. The scientific techniques include satellite data, remote sensing and GPS technologies. The participatory techniques include validation of satellite data and assessment of land and water use practices through interviews with farmers. This data will in the coming year, form the evidence base of our engagement with the external stakeholders.

Empowering communities through informed dialogue

Plans for the next year include

  • Focus on increasing water use efficiency in agriculture. Demonstration of economical, suitable for local hydrogeological conditions and easy replicable ground water recharge technologies.
  • Strengthening existing partnership with the Central Ground Water Board ( CGWB ) and forging new ones with the stakeholders such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC )- The private sector arm of the World Bank.