Sustainable Water Management

The Water Management program works with communities to harvest and store rainwater for direct use, and/or replenish groundwater by building and restoring infrastructure in villages. AMF supports revival of traditional water bodies, construction of water storage infrastructure, and safe disposal of wastewater. AMF promotes safe drinking water for all with innovative low-cost, sustainable technologies and WASH behavior. AMF creates awareness about the need for water conservation and builds capacities of local communities for better management and long-term sustainability of their water resources. The program seeks opportunities to collaborate for continuous improvement and replication of low-cost water management interventions.

Why Are We Tackling Water Management Challenges?

Maintaining an adequate supply of clean water represents one of the most significant challenges of the 21st Century. Agriculture accounts for more than 80 percent of water consumption and more than 50 percent of excess nutrient loads to our coastal waterways, thereby also threatening our fisheries and exacerbating human health concerns. Agriculture’s challenge to meet growing food demand while managing drought, flood and water quality risks under changing climate conditions demands audacious solutions.

Advances in sustainable water management are essential to achieving agricultural goals. Innovative engineering practices customized to local field conditions are essential to minimizing water demand, increasing terrestrial water storage and improving water quality while also enhancing crop production.

Our research programs promote stakeholder engagement with interdisciplinary scientific experts to advance precision agriculture and increase conservation practice adoption.

Why Do We Need Water Management

India has about 18 percent of the world’s population and only 4 percent of the world’s water resources. It is severely water-stressed, thereby making water management a national priority. India uses about 230 cubic kilometers of groundwater annually, which is more than a quarter of the global total, making it the world’s largest user of groundwater. About 90 percent of the groundwater extracted is used for irrigation and over 60 percent of the irrigated land in India is supported primarily by groundwater supplies. For an agrarian country like India, water is a key driving force of agriculture and has a direct bearing on its productivity and sustainability.

However, unregulated extraction and non-replenishment has reduced groundwater drastically and deteriorated its quality. The crisis has worsened further due to climate change, which causes erratic and intense rainfall. This, coupled with lack of sufficient runoff storage capacity, leads to the loss of precious freshwater into the sea. Furthermore, there is a serious lack of infrastructure for safe disposal of wastewater in villages, which further leads to contamination of water resources. Water contamination is a serious problem, giving rise to health and hygiene concerns.

Water Resource Augmentation

The Water Management program focuses on replenishing depleted underground aquifers and augmenting groundwater primarily with rainwater harvesting. This improves the availability and quality of groundwater in the long run, and provides water security to rural households. The program works with communities to revive traditional water bodies, and design and construct cost-effective recharge structures to harvest surplus monsoon runoff for either augmentation of groundwater and/or creation of surface water storage. Water resource augmentation structures include check dams, ponds, farm ponds, tanks, recharge wells, among others.

Roof Top Rain Water Harvesting

The Water Management program promotes installation of rooftop rain water harvesting systems in public buildings such as schools and institutional buildings that collect rainwater and store it in over-ground or underground tanks for later consumption. The water can also be recharged into the saline aquifer to create a local source of fresh water inside the saline aquifer. The water is passed through an appropriate filtering process prior to human consumption, which eliminates the risk of biological contamination, suspended solid particles, and other contaminants from the rainwater. Any excess water is recharged back into the ground.

Safe Drinking Water

The Water Management program advocates the adoption of sustainable technologies to improve access to safe drinking water for rural communities and prevent spread of waterborne diseases. The program innovates in the drinking water treatment domain, and JalKalp bio-sand water filters and Mati Kalp water filters are two such innovations. The JalKalp filter is a low-cost, sustainable stainless steel bio-sand filter that does not rely on recurring maintenance or electric power to deliver clean drinkable water. JalKalp is effective against pathogens such as E. coli, total coliforms, parasites, microbes, and worms, as well as eliminating turbidity, iron, manganese, and arsenic contamination. MatiKalp takes care of pathogens, iron, and manganese present in water.

Soil Conservation

The Water Management program promotes a variety of soil and water conservation measures to prevent soil erosion and salinity, and to maintain and improve soil fertility and productivity. With support from the communities, structures are built for soil and water conservation to reduce the volume and velocity of runoff for better protection against topsoil loss and to improve soil moisture retention. Soil and water conservation structures include contour trenches, farm bunds, gully plugs, among others. The program also promotes large-scale plantation on water catchments to improve the quality of runoff and the slow release of water increases percolation into the soil.

Water Conscious Communities

The Water Management program team works closely with rural communities to spread awareness on the importance of water conservation to sustain water resources, use of safe drinking water, and WASH behavior. It actively engages in awareness sessions and literacy drives with all sections of the community, including women and youth, on topics including judicious use of water, importance of managing water resources, water budgeting, household water treatment, and good hygiene and sanitation practices. It further aims to equip rural communities with knowledge and skills to effectively manage and sustain their water resources and be water secure.