The closure of industries and commercial establishments due to the lockdown has eased the burden on groundwater, shows the month-long reading of water levels in borewells in two areas where they are the main source of water.
V S Prakash, a former scientist at the Central Ground Water Board, who later worked on the drought situation in Karnataka, has been analysing the data from three borewells in Electronics City and one borewell in HSR Layout for over a month now.
“The monitoring was continuous and almost real-time,” he said and pointed at the hydrographs for each borewell which showed a gradual increase between March 22 and April 25. The natural level of water, before being pumped for utilisation, increased slowly as exploitation reduced.
Water levels in the borewells in Electronics City increased by 67 metres (219 feet) to 90 metres (295 feet). The HSR Layout borewell showed an improvement of 2.1 metres (6.88 feet).
Borewells are estimated to fulfil more than 70% of the water needs of the people in Electronics City where the BWSSB’s commercial water charges are high. One has to drill over 1,000 feet to find water in the IT hub. In HSR Layout, nearly 50% of the water needs are met by the borewells whose depth ranges from 300 feet to 600 feet.
Prakash said there were two reasons for the moderate increase in the water level in HSR Layout.
“Unlike Electronics City, HSR Layout is a residential area. Besides, the domestic demand for groundwater has increased due to the lockdown,” he said.
Prakash, who founded the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Management Centre, said the adoption of an adequate micro-monitoring system was essential to understand the water regime, specifically groundwater, and adopt a demand-side management.
“The water sector suffers from a lack of data. Something which is not measured properly can’t be managed properly. The existing groundwater and surface water monitoring system is grossly inadequate,” he said.
C Mrutyunjaya Swamy, Secretary, Minor Irrigation Department, said the state government measured underground water levels by taking readings from 1,800 borewells. “We have installed observation devices in 1,800 borewells. We will take readings from these borewells (of Electronics City and HSR Layout) in the coming days and analyse the data soon for a better monitoring of the underground water exploitation,” he said.