Participatory aquifer mapping

Participatory Aquifer Mapping - My Well, Our Water

Aquifer mapping
Biome's role
Anchoring & facilitating

The role and importance of groundwater both in the urban and rural context is now being increasingly acknowledged in the national discourse on water management. While an “Aquifer understanding” of groundwater and the acknowledgement of the aquifer as the “unit” for groundwater management has gained space in this discourse, this has been very recent. The understanding of Aquifers in the Indian context is poor and at best “macro”. Many challenges need to be overcome to enhance our understanding of aquifers. These include availability of various kinds of data at appropriately granular levels, application of methodologies based on geological and hydro-geological sciences that can interpret this data to arrive at an aquifer understanding of local groundwater, and finally interpreting current groundwater use and arriving at forward linkages of management of these aquifers in a larger policy, socio-economic, & socio-ecological. Availability of groundwater is as important to understand, as is demand and supply of water. These knowledge gaps are particularly stark in the Indian urban context. Indian cities have been growing fast and the cities’ utility is simply unable to keep pace with this growth.

This has resulted in a lack of access to utility/municipal services and/or unreliable utility/municipal services for more and more people in the city – and their only access to water is groundwater. This, coupled with the modest cost of digging wells (except for the poor), has led to highly atomized extraction through drilling of more and more wells. This poses particularly steep challenges for data collection, to understand what is happening to an aquifer and for implementation of any groundwater regulation. In light of the above and giving consideration to the Common property resource nature of Groundwater, any groundwater management has to be driven through a participatory approach.


In a context of increasing dependence on groundwater, poor understanding of aquifers and changing land and water use, there are more questions and hardly any answers. A participatory approach for aquifer management would then mean that the users of groundwater in the city have to become an integral part of answering critical questions with respect water and groundwater. Research findings need to be communicated to citizenry as much as they need to be communicated to decision makers. And any groundwater regulation will mean an enlightened citizenry is at the heart of effective implementation.

Critical elements:

1. Aquifer mapping, analysis and communication;

2. Development of an Open access Web-based platform for Citizen participation and communication of research findings;

3. Catalysis of citizen participation;

4. Evolving recommended groundwater management / regulation strategies and Advocacy.

This action research project location is a 35 sq. km catchment called Yamalur watershed in and around Sarjapur-Bellandur area of Bangalore city.


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