Modeling groundwater quality in an arid agricultural environment in the face of an uncertain climate: the case of Mewat District, India

Monday, 15 December 2014
Mary Catherine Weber1, Adam S Ward1 and Marian Muste2, (1)University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, United States, (2)The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, United States
The salinization of groundwater resources is a widespread problem in arid agricultural environments. In Mewat District (Haryana, India), groundwater salinity has rendered much of the accessible supply unfit for human consumption or agriculture. Historically, this closed basin retained fresh pockets of water at the foothills of the Aravalli Hills, where monsoonal precipitation runoff from the mountains was recharged through infiltration or facilitated by man-made structures. To date, an increasing number of pumps supply the region with fresh water for consumption and agriculture leading to shrinking the freshwater zone at an accelerated pace. The potential for increased human consumption corroborated with the effects of climate change bring uncertainty about the future of water security for the Mewat communities, most of them critically bound to the existence of local water. This study addresses the sustainability of the freshwater supply under a range of land interventions and climate scenarios, using a 2-D groundwater flow and transport model. Our results quantify potential futures for this arid, groundwater-dependent location, using numerical groundwater modeling to quantify interactions between human water use, infrastructure, and climate. Outcomes of this modeling study will inform an NGO active in the area on sustainable management of groundwater resources.