Participatory Ground Water Management

Ground water is the common pool resource used by millions of farmers in the country and remains the predominant drinking water source for rural water supply. It also supports industrial usages. The scarcity of water resources and ever increasing demand of these vital resources require identification, quantification and management of ground water in a way that prevents overexploitation and consequent economic and environmental damage, while satisfying demand for water supply of competing sectors. Participatory ground water management is envisaged to make a significant step in ground water management at grass root level to enable the community and stake holders to monitor and manage the ground water as common pool resources themselves.

It is imperative to have the aquifer mapping activity with a road map for groundwater management plan to ensure its transition into a participatory groundwater management programme for effective implementation of the Aquifer Management Plans (AMPs). This would require a coordinated effort involving government departments, research institutes, PRIs, civil society organizations and the stakeholders at the village level who would guide collective sharing and use of groundwater based on a careful understanding of the storage and transmission characteristics of different aquifer units.  A National level identified consortium of NGOs is desirable for developing benchmark for this activity and facilitating its implementation.

The implementation of AMPs is proposed through collaborative approach amongst government departments, research institutes, PRIs, civil society organizations and the local community. The stakeholders would include farmers, landless farm workers with appropriate SC, ST and Women’s representatives. Consensus based decision making is the goal of local water users association (WUA). Social audit by members not involved in the implementation process is inbuilt within the participatory ground water management. Gram Sabha is proposed to be the final arbiter in case of disputes and for establishing some basic regulatory norms under PRI system. A national level independent agency shall be entrusted for evaluation of the project. The programme envisaged activities towards building capacity, skills and knowledge to ground water users. Programme will be executed by engaging suitable youth, women etc as grass root ground water workers after providing necessary trainings to them to function as facilitators, trainers and data managers at the village level. Two major issues to be addressed by the proposed programme are:–

  • Management of Groundwater
  • Monitoring leading to sustainability of Groundwater


Even though Aquifer mapping is a fairly complex exercise involving profound knowledge of Hydrogeology and other disciplines, the role of grass root workers (para-hydrogeologists) cannot be understated. They shall be responsible for collection of primary Hydrogeological data, periodic monitoring of identified key wells, and sensitization of the villagers regarding ground water trends, extensive usage and its ramification. The Central and State organizations shall be assisted by the designated NGOs to identify and facilitate training of grass root workers for the implementation of AMPs. The program will catalyse and scale up the PGWM process to facilitate the field level outreach of ground water development measures.