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Depleting Groundwater
 
By MUHAMMAD ARIF WATTO


Depleting Groundwater:-Pakissan.comThe World Water Day 2014 aims to raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy to meet increasing demands of a growing population across the globe.

Pakistan is the sixth largest country with an estimated 180 million people, that is expected to reach 237 million in 2025 at the current rate of the population increase.

As the population grows, demand for water for all aspects of life increases.

It is estimated that the agriculture sector will be required to grow more than 4pc annually while water supplies by approximately 10pc to meet its food requirements.

Roughly, it is estimated that water demand increases by approximately 1300 m3y-1per capita for an extra individual.

The per capita water availabilities in Pakistan have decreased by more than 400pc since 1950.

The current per capita water availability of nearly 1050m3 is expected to further decrease by 30pc while water requirements for farm sector would increase by 48pc in 2025.

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Hence, water demand and supply relationship is expected to be greatly influenced by the population growth.

The shortage of water resources to meet industrial and domestic demands of a rapidly growing population is likely to impact irrigation water supply and hence would affect the sustainability of agriculture.

The Indus river basin is already regarded as one of the most depleted ones in the world.

Recent climate change trends and soaring population compounded with rising food demand and improved living standards, would substantially increase pressure on water resources in the near future.

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Surface water supplies are already in gradual decline. Amongst the major groundwater using countries, Pakistan is ranked the third. Since 1960, groundwater share in the total water supply has increased by more than 50pc.

The spectacular increase in the groundwater use over the last half-century has manifested as a kind of ’silent revolution’ carried out by millions of farmers in pursuit of reliable irrigation water supplies.

Although groundwater resources have played a key role in agricultural production, unimpeded pumping of groundwater aquifers, however, has led to the rapid depletion and many negative environmental and economic externalities.

Recently, the world’s highest groundwater depletion rates have been reported in the North-East Pakistan and North-West India of the Indus Basin.

That is making relative accessibility of groundwater resources economically unviable and is a risk to the sustainability of agriculture.

Unchecked drilling of groundwater aquifers is triggering the up-welling and inflow of highly mineralised deep groundwater aquifers into freshwater aquifers. Rapidly declining groundwater tables is pushing farmers to re-install tubewells at greater depths.

Groundwater resource management is under-developed and faces a common-set of policy and institutional challenges.

Despite having major share in irrigation, there is no comprehensive information available on groundwater resources either within hydrological, ecological or socio-economic perspectives.

What ever institutions are there to govern water resources at the federal, provincial, and local levels have limited business with groundwater resource management.

Existing institutional inefficiencies are widening the gap among stakeholders, who are failing to cooperate with each other to overcome the weak policies and enforcement mechanisms in the water sector.

Nonetheless, the most alarming factor is the government’s general apathy towards reforming the ineffective institutions, policies and practices.

Groundwater management is a complex phenomenon which requires multidimensional actions, policies and management strategies.

Groundwater management should be well-integrated with mainstream water management projects and policies.

March, 2014

Source:  The Dawn

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