New water project awarded in India

The Sadhana Forest project location.

At the end of 2023 Q1/Q2 call for applications, GWB Steering Committee selected two projects for funding. One of those projects is in Southern India.

More than 60% of India is experiencing high to extremely high-water stress, with scarce, overused, and contaminated surface water supplies. Groundwater depletion, caused by the expansion of groundwater-based irrigation during the Green Revolution, poses a significant challenge to food and water security. Climate change further exacerbates the situation.

Tree planting activity at the project location.

Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu state of Southern India, like many regions in India, is facing water stress due to demographic and urban growth. Recharging groundwater through methods like rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge is crucial but faces challenges related to funding, awareness, maintenance, conflicts, and integrated planning. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is considered an effective water management option to combat groundwater depletion in India. Sadhana Forest India (SFI) focuses on ecological revival and sustainable living through water retention practices, reforestation, and community building. Their interdisciplinary approach addresses groundwater challenges, emphasizing aquifer replenishment, reforestation, and environmental education for children and young people. SFI’s project needs a new freshwater well to address reduced availability and quality in the local aquifer. Under this GWB project, a geophysical exploration survey will guide the placement of the well and serve as an educational tool. Swales, designed to infiltrate water into the vadose zone, will be monitored to understand groundwater recharge dynamics.

Students from Pondicherry University will participate in research activities and workshops on swale construction and geophysical methods. An online groundwater model will also be developed to educate locals, volunteers, and visitors on hydrogeology and the benefits of water retention practices. This project’s success will be assessed based on improved access to freshwater, water quality measurements, and availability of open data from the monitoring network. The geophysical campaigns will contribute to a high-resolution hydrogeological model and the online visualization tool. Student participation, community outreach, and information dissemination will be evaluated through surveys and questionnaires for feedback on project’s approach and progress. It is anticipated that the results will be shared in peer-reviewed publications, local newsletters, and seminars. Sadhana Forest’s water project will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to address groundwater challenges, optimize water resources, promote sustainable practices, and raise awareness about groundwater management and water retention practices.