Conceptual Understanding and Computational Models of Groundwater Flow in the Indian Subcontinent

Authored by: K. R. Rushton

Groundwater Assessment, Modeling, and Management

Print publication date:  July  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498742849
eBook ISBN: 9781315369044
Adobe ISBN:


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Although groundwater has been exploited in the Indian subcontinent for several millennia, significant changes in exploitation occurred in the last few decades of the twentieth century. Important factors included the ability to construct deeper wells and the wide availability of powered pumps, many of them powered by electricity. Before these advances, abstraction and recharge tended to be in balance because it was only possible to abstract groundwater that was readily available. However, the construction of deeper wells and the ability to pump sufficient water to irrigate dry season crops means that questions have arisen about the long-term viability of this increased abstraction. A report by the World Bank (2010) has the title Deep Wells and Prudence: Towards Pragmatic Action for Addressing Groundwater OverExploitation in India; the report explains that there are more than 20 million wells in India. In 2004, a nationwide assessment found that 29% of groundwater blocks were in the semicritical or overexploited categories with the situation deteriorating rapidly. The situation in Sri Lanka is considered by Villholth and Rajasooriyar (2010); they state that “uncontrolled groundwater use and contamination or natural poor quality, are leading to access limitations and health concerns.” They explain that “despite an emerging awareness, ground-water management is in its infancy, with the attitude of groundwater development still not converted into an approach of active management” (p. 1489).

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