Water management and security in vast dry landscapes: Need of the hour - Hindustan Times

Water management and security in vast dry landscapes: Need of the hour

ByHindustan Times
Sep 27, 2023 12:36 PM IST

This article is authored by Sunith Reddy, CEO & co-founder, Beforest, Lifestyle Solutions Pvt Ltd.

Amidst the vast expanses of dry terrain, water stands as the lifeblood that sustains ecosystems, livelihoods, and communities. Establishing an effective water management system emerges as the foundational step in fostering sustainable development, particularly when seeking to rejuvenate parched landscapes, considering how the country is in dire need of water to restore vegetation. This is where efficient water management methods play a pivotal role in safeguarding vast arid landscapes by breathing life into these areas, with water serving as the foundation of all life.

Water management (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Water management (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The importance of water in bringing a parched environment to life cannot be overstated. While the bore water may be adequate for smaller farm plots, what about a landscape that is 100 acres or more and intended to house 80 to 100 families or roughly a village? Despite the fact that artificial irrigation and water delivery systems have been common practices in large-scale monoculture farms, there is a need to move towards more holistic and environmentally friendly solutions, such as permaculture farming, which is centred around resource efficiency. Utilising a more sustainable framework will also improve the efficiency of water management.

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There are certain steps to ensure water management and security in vast dry landscapes:

  • Determine the amount of rainfall: Undoubtedly, understanding and measuring the land's natural water resources, particularly rainwater, is a pivotal milestone in the journey of large-scale permaculture farming. By analysing data on rainfall patterns, drought occurrences, groundwater levels, and more, individuals can gain crucial insights into the land's water-holding capacity and its potential to sustain a certain population. This knowledge plays a crucial role in assessing the land's ability to meet the demands of its inhabitants autonomously, eliminating the dependence on external water sources. Furthermore, it facilitates identifying and implementing necessary design modifications to ensure a continuous and stable water supply for daily consumption.
  • Examine how water moves: The next step involves understanding how water moves across and beyond the land. This entails mapping key monsoon streams across the landscape, a component that aids in comprehending the natural water pathways influencing the land's hydrology. The hydrology study encompasses a comprehensive understanding of water flow on, over, and beneath the land, enabling estimations of its availability for use. This thorough analysis of water movement and availability proves valuable in devising and executing effective water management plans.
  • Capture and retain: In water-scarce, arid landscapes, the primary objective is to conserve every available drop of water. Hence, capturing and retaining all naturally occurring water within the land becomes crucial. For instance, the installation of check dams along stream banks effectively impedes water flow, allowing it to slow down and accumulate. Leveraging the potential of earthworks paves the way for a water-secure future, benefitting both the community and the land.
  • Soaking water: Beyond surface-level measures, effective water conservation involves replenishing groundwater levels for long-term sustainability. Elevated groundwater levels are pivotal as they ensure consistent recharge of wells and lakes during the dry season, guaranteeing a dependable water source even amid a drought. Earthworks, like swales, recharge ponds and check dams enhance the water-soaking capacity, transforming the land into a colossal sponge over time.
  • Storage of water: Water storage units for daily agricultural and family needs, along with slowing down and soaking water for landscape restoration, holds great importance. Creating water bodies such as lakes, ponds, wells, and tanks becomes pivotal in distributing the water load across the land, especially in arid regions. In addition, as water seeps into the ground, the ground itself functions as a natural storage facility. This natural mechanism enables the gradual refilling of wells and lakes. Utilising both artificial and natural water storage techniques, it becomes feasible to achieve an ideal balance between water usage and conservation.
  • Implement efficient water use: Laying the foundation for water security mandates efficient water usage practises. Employing water-efficient systems such as drip irrigation, reusing kitchen water for vegetable gardens, and recycling greywater have become necessary for optimising water utilisation and preventing depletion of the existing water resources. In addition, larger landscapes provide better opportunities to collect, hold, and store huge amounts of water that falls on the ground, which is more difficult in the case of small, dispersed plots. With integrated water management approaches, each drop of water serves a purpose, contributing to the overall water security of the ecosystem. In essence, these measures not only enhance water supply but also ecosystem resilience and biodiversity.

This article is authored by Sunith Reddy, CEO & co-founder, Beforest, Lifestyle Solutions Pvt Ltd.

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