Addressing the rural water crisis in India

Geoscientists Without Borders
Water Management Projects

The scarcity of fresh water is a longstanding problem affecting the health, productivity, and quality of life for millions of people in central India.

The underlying causes of scarcity are complex. Deforestation has increased the amount of water lost from watersheds as runoff and geologic variability makes groundwater stores difficult to find and access. At the same time, continually increasing agricultural demand decreases water availability.

As a result, sustainable solutions to the water crisis require a holistic approach to water resources management that integrates environmental, social and economic viewpoints. Increasing water availability through watershed restoration activities, demand management and searching out new supplies provide an integrated strategy for overcoming this problem and increasing quality of life for villagers.

Status Complete

Voices from the Field

Projects supported by Geoscientists Without Borders not only provide immediate humanitarian benefit to the communities they serve, but also help project participants gain critical real-world experience and enriched perspectives of the power and potential the geosciences offer to a world in need.

Statement of Work

This project is specifically designed to expand the scope of the research currently undertaken by the PIs to include gravity surveys. It will develop an innovative integrated monitoring system to monitor variations in gas flux by combining continuous microgravity measurements of degassing subsurface magma with concurrent spectrometric data of gases escaping from the vent and records of gas accumulation and impact downwind. Combining geophysical, geochemical and social science will enable us to develop a better understanding of how the persistent gas flux from these volcanoes impact humans, animals and the environment (e.g. grazing land for cattle, cultivated land for various crops, natural vegetation and water sources) and how rapidly the local environment responds to changes in volatile flux. In addition, this project seeks to grow the knowledge and communications base between the scientific and local community so that effective triage, through mitigation strategies, can be employed. This project will take a holistic approach to volcanic hazards and communicating risk mitigation strategies by involving the local community in the data collection and response processes. Thus those most affected by the processes we monitor will have a stake in data collection, dissemination and response to the results. Results will be transferrable to other persistently active volcanoes in sub-tropical environments.

Project team conducted an extensive study of the mitigating factors affecting the water supply in the Salri village. Capacity of the aquifer downstream of the water harvesting structure was thoroughly evaluated. An extensive program of hydrologic monitoring was completed in the watershed to collect data for the volumetric water balance.

Rehabilitation of a road in the watershed providing drilling rig access and ancillary benefits to the villagers.

Seven water wells drilled, two penetrate deeper aquifer systems that are less sensitive to monsoonal variations and are used to support the village.

Local NGO partner traveled to Clemson University to participate in hydrogeology field camp, followed by a 3 day short course conducted by PI in India. The technology transfer will help sustain project results.

Hands-on field training conducted with IIT-B and Clemson students.

Outreach activities targeted a variety of audiences, from informal village meetings to presentations with government officials.

Villagers thoroughly involved in all aspects of this project. Water management plan collaboratively established and maintained by villagers. (see YouTube)

Principal Investigator

Professor Stephen Moysey, Clemson University  
GeoHazards International

Team members

Clemson University – Dan Matz, Sudershan Gangrade and 6 undergraduates.
Foundation for Ecological Security
Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay – 20 students
Communities in Salri, India


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