Community owned village ponds to mitigate floods and meet local irrigation demands: A novel conjunctive water use management approach
International Water Management Institute, Vientiane, Lao PDR
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Managing the frequent floods occurring in a region during monsoons and utilizing it for the unmet irrigation demands during the dry season in the same river basin is a novel conjunctive water management method termed as ‘Underground Taming of Floods for Irrigation’ or UTFI (pronounced ‘utify’). This strategy was first piloted in the Indian part of the Ganges river basin. This study aimed to monitor the UTFI piloting operations and to address the operation and maintenance related issues such as clogging and geochemical/ microbial effects of the recharged water and groundwater which is recovered. This study also serves as an experiment to upscale the technique at the watershed/ river basin scale. Site selection was based on a detailed remote sensing based analysis which was also built upon field visits and support from local institutions. A village pond in Ramganga sub-basin located in Uttar Pradesh state in India was chosen for the piloting. Seasonal flooding from a nearby river affects the livelihood of the villagers. There also exists unmet irrigation demand during the summer months due to unavailability of surface water and groundwater depletion. A village pond was modified and retrofitted with ten recharge wells to serve as a scientific trial and as a practical demonstration. Three piezometers were also installed within the village at different distances from the pond to monitor the effect of recharge on water levels and water quality.The trail and the monitoring that started in September 2015 indicate that the groundwater level has improved at the three monitoring piezometers due to additional recharge from the pond. This will provide more water for irrigational activities in the dry season. Also the salinity has decreased in the groundwater due to dilution. This pilot operation carried out to demonstrate the UTFI concept will be handed over to the community to be driven and maintained by them. As a part of this exercise training will be provided to the villagers and local institutional arrangements will be finalised. These preliminary results of the piloting that have been designed to test the operational performance of the UTFI structure are encouraging and this site will be monitored continuously.