Low-cost approaches to problem-driven hydrologic research: The case of Arkavathy watershed, India.
Abstract:Groundwater depletion is a major problem in the Arkavathy Basin and it is the probable cause of declining flows in the Arkavathy River. However, investigating groundwater trends and groundwater-surface water linkages is extremely challenging in a data-scarce environment where basins are largely ungauged so there is very little historical data; often the data are missing, flawed or biased. Moreover, hard-rock aquifer data are very difficult to interpret.
In the absence of reliable data, establishing a trend let alone the causal linkages is a severe challenge. We used a combination of low-cost, participatory, satellite based and conventional data collection methods to maximize spatial and temporal coverage of data.
For instance, long-term groundwater trends are biased because only a few dug wells with non-representative geological conditions still have water - the vast majority of the monitoring wells drilled in the 1970s and 1980s have dried up. Instead, we relied on “barefoot hydrology” techniques. By conducting a comprehensive well census, engaging farmers in participatory groundwater monitoring and using locally available commercial borewell scanning techniques we have been able to better establish groundwater trends and spatial patterns.