Groundwater depletion- Causes and Effects

Groundwater depletion- Cause of worry for rural India

Question:-Depleting ground water levels is cause of big worry especially to life in rural areas. Examine the causes and effects of depletion in the groundwater.

- Groundwater levels in India are plunging at an alarming rate where some states experience water levels dwindling to criticality.

- Use of groundwater spans from irrigation purposes to industries and human consumption. The poor distribution system on part of the government too adds to the existing poor condition of water. Cities like Pune and Delhi lose 40% of water supply due to leakages.

- Water crisis in India is the result of three major causes.

1. The bursting population is a reason for insufficient water per head. While it has been estimated that the amount of usable water should be between 700-1200 billion cubic meter, India has only 1000 cubic meters of water per head.

2. Water in most rivers is polluted making it unfit for drinking or any other use. The poor quality rises from insufficient and delayed investment in urban water-treatment facilities. Industrial effluent rules are not implemented due to inadequate technical and human resource availability with the state pollution control boards.

3. Excess extraction by farmers has led to the dwindling groundwater supplies. This is so because access to groundwater is free and anyone has a right to pump water from their own land.

- Poor monsoon due to climate change has further aggravated the groundwater situation since the latter heavily depends on rains. Poor rainfall compels the farmers to dig further down for groundwater to irrigate the field. This results in pushing the tables deeper down.

- Unrestrained urbanization has contributed in a big way and despite India being one of the richest nations in water supply, the government and citizens have exploited the water reserves.

- Quality of groundwater is another issue especially where it is used for human consumption. A number of factors contaminate the groundwater like sewage, run off from landfills, use of pesticides and fertilizers etc.

- Depleting groundwater has posed such a threat that cities are now compelled to look for alternate supplies either because of polluted groundwater or that it will cease to exist very soon.


- A saturated zone that contains enough water to yield upon digging a well is known as an aquifer. It is actually a path of porous or pervious material through which substantial quantities of water can flow relatively easily.

- A spring is a natural discharge of water at the earth's surface from a saturated zone that has been filled to the brim. Springs are classified according to the amount of water they produce or according to the temperature of water.

- Water that contains a lot of calcium and magnesium is said to be hard.

- The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has told the ministry of water resources that around 56% of the wells, which are analyzed to keep a tab on ground water level, showed decline in its level in 2013 as compared to the average of preceding 10 years (2003-12) period.
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