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Depleting state of surface water levels

Published : Monday, 27 May, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 248

Depleting state of surface water levels

Depleting state of surface water levels

Groundwater table continues to fall in Dhaka city setting alarm bells ringing. Since 2015 water pressure at the second layer or first confined aquifer has dangerously dropped with the installation of 64 new deep tube-wells by the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) in the past one year.

Rise or fall in groundwater depends on a number of factors including rainfall, geology and soil pattern. The increasing use of tube wells and the consequent spiral of deeper wells and receding underground water was only the first of a series of interconnected and mutually reinforcing vicious cycles that drove depletion of the aquifer. Rapid concretisation of the city is also a major factor in causing declining water levels. With rapid urbanisation and the heavy construction work it entails there has been less percolation of rain water. As the water table falls, two things that continues to cause worry are that the groundwater left is neither drinkable nor can be used for irrigation. Taking this phenomenon in mind, relevant water authorities should urgently go for re-excavation of derelict water-bodies like ponds and wetlands for conservation of surface water to maintain ecological balance in the region.

Due to unilateral withdrawal of waters from common rivers including Teesta swathes of region in the north have gone dry.  Here farmers do not get water for irrigation. To meet all these challenges, surface water preservation can hold the key. There is no dearth of derelict ponds, dried-up rivers and low lying areas in the country that can be effectively excavated to hold rain water that is in abundance during the rainy season. Experts have rightly pointed out that these measures should supplement the government efforts of successful implementation of Delta Plan 2100. Last of all, for industrial and domestic users, more technology intensive solutions like desalination projects, industrial and municipal water recycling can be explored.

However the major thrust should be on rainwater harvesting. The main advantage of rainwater capture is that it provides a more continuous and reliable access to water despite severe seasonal and meteorological fluctuations. It eases the stress on groundwater, rivers and basins and is therefore an ideal solution to water problems in areas with dwindling or inadequate water resources. Rainwater can be collected and stored within accessible distances, while traditional sources are often located away from the community. Rainwater is a clean source of water; the quality of rainwater is often better than ground water or water from rivers and basins.

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