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Improving assessment of groundwater-resource sustainability with deterministic modelling : a case study of the semi-arid Musi sub-basin, South India

By Sylvain Massuel, B. A. George, J. P. Venot, L. Bharati and S. Acharya


Since the 1990s, Indian farmers, supported by the government, have partially shifted from surface-water to groundwater irrigation in response to the uncertainty in surface-water availability. Water-management authorities only slowly began to consider sustainable use of groundwater resources as a prime concern. Now, a reliable integration of groundwater resources for water-allocation planning is needed to prevent aquifer overexploitation. Within the 11,000-km(2) Musi River sub-basin (South India), human interventions have dramatically impacted the hard-rock aquifers, with a water-table drop of 0.18 m/a over the period 1989-2004. A fully distributed numerical groundwater model was successfully implemented at catchment scale. The model allowed two distinct conceptualizations of groundwater availability to be quantified: one that was linked to easily quantified fluxes, and one that was more expressive of long-term sustainability by taking account of all sources and sinks. Simulations showed that the latter implied 13 % less available groundwater for exploitation than did the former. In turn, this has major implications for the existing water-allocation modelling framework used to guide decision makers and water-resources managers worldwide

Topics: Numerical modelling, Groundwater management, Water supply, Hard-rock aquifer, India
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s10040-013-1030-z
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