Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ground Water depletion: WARNING

Ground Water Ecology Earth Danger
Ground Water Recharging
If things go in the right direction the State will soon have an authority that will monitor, regulate, and take stock of the ground water reserves, according to a highly placed source in the Department of Mines and Geology. The source said, "the move comes in the wake of drastically depleting ground water levels and reports of toxic effluents in water samples leading to dangerous and fatal diseases". The official added that the autonomous body would be called Karnataka Ground Water Authority (KGWA) and the bill is pending clearance from the Finance and Law Departments. There wouldn't be any problems because the Government is keen on the bill, say sources. The KGWA will be involved in conservation of the water table, take measures to recharge the ground water, notify areas where water is over exploited (ban pumping of water in those areas), formulate rules governing ground water, issue permission for borewells and wells, and create awareness among people on the issue. The official said that as a first measure the authority would begin registration of borewells and pumps across the State, and added that the bill also states that adopting rainwater harvesting would be made mandatory henceforth. The various corporations, municipalities and other local bodies would be directed to include this in the byelaws governing building plan sanctions.

On the current status of ground water, Dr T N Venugopal, Deputy Director (Ground Water), Department of Mines and Geology said, "groundwater in Karnataka is pathetic as primary porosity is almost absent in most areas since genesis, schist and granite form major rocks formations. Over exploitation of ground water is increasing at geometrical scales in the last few years". Highlighting a research report prepared by the Department, he said, "Karnataka with 234 watersheds (all of them have crossed 70 percent of exploitation) tops the list among all the States in the Deccan Plateau when it came to most exploited ground water tables with Bangalore leading all the towns of the State". Further, he said, an average of 15.3 lakh ham (hectare metres) is the recharge whereas 10.7 lakh ham is drawn from the table with only 30 percent left as balance (see table).

On water table levels in Bangalore, he said, "the city with hundreds of lakes and open spaces in the vicinity contributed a lot as natural water recharge sources till the 60s. People in Basavanagudi and Malleswaram used to have dug wells. Water was available at shallow depths of one to two metres. Later, encroachments because of urbanisation led to disturbance of natural water streams and lakes turning into residential layouts started affecting the table. Today, we have only a handful of lakes and no open spaces. These are the main reasons for the depleting water table".
Accusing some industries of letting concentrated industrial waste into storm water drains, he said, nitrates, fluorides and iron was found in random water samples drawn across the city. It tested well above permissible levels. He warned that if things aren't controlled this may lead to flourosis, skin diseases, blue baby syndrome and other such diseases. He added that domestic effluents also contributed towards ground water contamination.

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