June 02, 2020

Participatory Water Audit provides Roadmap for Judicious Use of available Water Resources

There is a growing need for communities to develop and manage their local water resources in a sustainable manner. However, an essential first step is to gain an understanding of the total local supply of water, vis a vis the local demand for it. To effectively measure this, ACF is training communities to conduct their own 'Community Water Audit' - educating them to not only harvest water, but save it. 

To first test the model, ACF conducted a Participatory Water Audit in Rawan Village, of block Bhatapara, Balodabazar in Chhattisgarh and worked collaboratively with the community to understand its total water needs. Information was captured through a participatory process and secondary reports and the extent of the problem was analyzed. Finally, potential solutions were suggested to the community - following the Cycle of Water Management Process:

Working hand in hand with the community and applying scientific formulae to measure water use and supply, ACF was able to make key observations on the present water balance of the community:
· The village received 860.89 Ha-m water through various sources, but 28% i.e.241.17 ha-m flowed out during the monsoon season itself, without much productive use. Thus, villagers are able to use only 63.18% water to strengthen their livelihoods.
· The present water harvesting capacity of the village is 12.92 Ha-m of which 6.0 ha-m is for the entire year, which is also negligible compared to the outflow of water, thus offering a good potential for increasing the overall water harvesting and recharge capacity.
By assessing the topography, hydro-geological classification of the community, number of households and population, existing harvesting structures, rainfall and water usage patterns (for both household and agricultural purposes), ACF was able to come up with a strategy for balancing the water requirement for the community.

Fig1. Water Balance Concept & its Perceptions

The water-balance exercise suggested some of the following actions to improve the situation for the community:
  • Increasing the water-harvesting capacity of the village, which could be achieved through the deepening of existing ponds and creating new ponds in the upper regions of villages
  • ACF could plan to divert flood water and runoff of monsoon season through artificial recharge using traditional open-wells and tube-wells. This would help in retaining monsoon season excess and use it for groundwater recharge additionally.
  • The water audit also indicated that the village irrigation water management system needed discussion, as most of the irrigation water which was provided during the process of kharif irrigation, went into run-off without productive use. This is an aspect which cannot be linked to one village; thus the appropriate intervention was to have a stake-holder forum covering whole limestone belt and community.
  • Taking advantage of the topography of the area, and areas which are normally called "Rel", Water harvesting can be promoted mainly in the form of decentralised ponds across the village particularly in upstream regions, at suitable sites to store rainwater and run-off. This would increase the recharge of groundwater and would ultimately result in an increase in yield of bore-wells.
  • Agriculture - While villages have relatively better availability of irrigation during the Kharif season, farmers were not able to capitalize it to benefit their Rabi crops. The reasons for that are water losses incurred due to irrigation-return flow.
With a clear Water Audit and recommendations in place, both ACF and the community then develop a strategy moving forward to address water imbalances by implementing key initiatives to make water a more sustainable resource for the future.

To have a Water Audit conducted in your location, write to for more information.
Tags: Water
June 02, 2020

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