Opportunities to Build Groundwater Resilience in the Semi-Arid Tropics


International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India; 91 40 30713464; fax: 91 40 30713074; k.garg@cgiar.org


Agricultural water management (AWM) is the adaptation strategy for increasing agricultural production through enhancing water resources availability while maintaining ecosystem services. This study characterizes groundwater hydrology in the Kothapally agricultural watershed, in hard rock Deccan plateau area in India and assesses the impact of AWM interventions on groundwater recharge using a calibrated and validated hydrological model, SWAT, in combination with observed water table data in 62 geo-referenced open wells. Kothapally receives, on average, 750 mm rainfall (nearly 90% of annual rainfall) during the monsoon season (June to October). Water balance showed that 72% of total rainfall was converted as evapotranspiration (ET), 16% was stored in aquifer, and 8% exported as runoff from the watershed boundary with AWM interventions. Nearly 60% of the runoff harvested by AWM interventions recharged shallow aquifers and rest of the 40% increased ET. Water harvesting structures (WHS) contributed 2.5 m additional head in open wells, whereas hydraulic head under natural condition was 3.5 m, resulting in total 6 m rise in water table during the monsoon. At the field scale, WHSs recharged open wells at a 200 to 400 m spatial scale.