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UN Report on Alarming Groundwater Levels Propels Indians for Rainwater Harvesting

As the level of groundwater in India is declining at a rapid pace, here's a look at the benefits of rainwater harvesting.

Aysha Anam

Groundwater is the backbone of agriculture in India. Globally, farmers rely upon groundwater reservoirs to supply 40 percent of water to their farm fields. However, this has been a worrisome concern for India lately as the United Nations has released a report recently, saying, 'India's groundwater will decline to a low level by 2025. Farmers in Punjab are facing severe depletion of groundwater at a faster pace.

A recent report by the United Nations, titled "Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023" and published by the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), has raised concerns about environmental tipping points and their potential consequences.

Groundwater Concerns in Punjab

Groundwater in Punjab has reached from 12 metres to 18 and 21 metres.

Seven to eight years ago, we could reach groundwater at 4.5 metres deep, while now it is only reachable at 21 metres. The declining water level affects my income, and I cannot afford to install a borewell, said Harjeet Singh.

Groundwater Depletion Solution

The only solution to overcome the devastating effect of groundwater depletion is refilling the water again by practicing rainwater harvesting.

Before the groundwater becomes unreachable or runs out completely, we will have to save rainwater in lower places. For now, there is no other solution.

India has always been practicing rainwater harvesting through traditional methods, such as wells, step wells, and ponds. However, with the growing population in the country, the number of wells, step wells and ponds is not enough to meet the requirement.

The integrated water management system is very important to us because it helps us to save water when it is not required in the field. It functions as a back-up system which supplements our canal water and groundwater, said, Vishvajeet Singh Jyani.

Benefits of Rainwater Harvesting

There is a plethora of benefits of rainwater harvesting, including -

Soil erosion, stormwater runoff, flooding, and pollution of surface water caused by fertilizers, pesticides, metals, and other sediments can be significantly reduced.

Enormous investments in constructing dams, pipelines, treatment plants, and the ongoing costs of maintenance and infrastructure replacement can be curtailed.

Rainwater harvesting diminishes stormwater runoff from a property, leading to a decrease in surface water contamination from pesticides, sediment, metals, and fertilizers.

Rainwater is a chemical-free source, making it ideal for plant and landscape irrigation while mitigating the impacts of drought.

Benefits include enhanced farm soil quality and overall environmental improvement, increased soil fertility reducing the reliance on chemical fertilizers, replenishing well water and groundwater, utilizing all precipitation within the farm, and effectively boosting crop production.

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