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27 Jul 2018 | DFAT Brahmaputra

Hydrogeological Model of Godavari Landscape to Support Spring Revival and Springshed Management

A 3-D model of the Godavari landscape was unveiled at the ICIMOD Knowledge Park in Godavari on 8 June 2018. The Knowledge Park has been identified as a training site for spring revival and springshed management and the model will be used as a capacity-building tool. The conceptual layout will aid understanding of the hydrogeology of the area and help visitors and trainees visualize the geophysical nature of the area in relation to its springs.

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Schematic representation of springshed and watershed.

Springs are the source of water for millions of people in the mid-hills of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), but spring systems are poorly understood. Springs are groundwater discharge points that appear where a water-bearing layer (aquifer) intersects with the ground surface and water seeps out of rock pores, fissures, fractures, or depressions. It naturally follows any discharge point, and would have a recharge area from which the discharged water is derived.

Most water conservation programmes in the HKH and elsewhere have been built around the watershed concept, which accounts only for surface water movement over slopes. It does not account for movement of spring water, which is groundwater, and determined by underlying geology, the nature of rocks and the slope of such rocks beneath the surface. The watershed concept, therefore, cannot account for water which travels outside the watershed boundaries through rock beds that slope towards an adjoining watershed.

Gajendra Maharjan, Mayor, Godawari Municipality, unveils the 3-D model of the Godavari landscape.

Lack of knowledge about what constitute springs and how they recharge has led to policy neglect across the region. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is working with relevant stakeholders in the region to address this knowledge gap and introduce wholesome interventions for water conservation in the region.

The 3-D model at the ICIMOD Knowledge Park shows surface slope and delineates watersheds, underlying rocks, their dip and strike. As such it will help conceptualize the differences between a springshed and a watershed. The model shows how groundwater does not necessarily flow in the same direction as surface water. It represents how the recharge area of a spring in one watershed, say watershed A, can very well be in another watershed, say watershed B, and hence highlights the need to look at underground geology and recharge areas across several watersheds to demarcate a springshed.

Any intervention in the mountains needs to be at a springshed scale because work done in one watershed without considering groundwater flow to another watershed can be ineffective or counterproductive. The 3-D model is an attempt to bring about conceptual clarification and can be used by a wide range of stakeholders – policy makers, scientists, students and local communities. It helps them envisage their springs and the areas where they are recharged. The model also demonstrates the need for a paradigm shift – from watershed to springshed as an appropriate approach to intervention in the HKH.

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