International Centre for Clean Water

Water resources security mapping for Rameswaram island

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The activity of water resources security mapping aimed to enhance the understanding of water The water resources security mapping activity conducted at the Rameswaram municipality, Thangachimadam and Pamban panchayats established a rapid assessment framework and development of an action plan for implementation. The framework brought out the physical status of the available water resources, current management practices and the risks associated with the availability of the water resources.

The assessment was conducted from a risk perspective that identifies potential hazards, their likelihood and severity, (a risk priority number can be created multiplying the three) the vulnerable populations or areas, and the resulting criticality of the risks. Conducting a water security assessment is an essential step in the process of addressing water risks. It establishes a common and agreed-upon information base on the severity and extent of water risks, now and in the near future. This information will be the foundation for the planning, implementation, and monitoring of water security activities. It is also a critical justification to ensure support from funders and Governing authorities for the implementation of the identified road map.

The study has brought out a perspective of on the hotspots over the next two to three years for improvement through deriving a water security index for Rameswaram island. This information is rich enough for the decision makers for finetuning their existing efforts. This has been derived through a set of 4 dimensions in the form of water withdrawals, water productivity, watershed health and water governance.

The study presents a road map for implementation that indicates a set of priority intervention areas that can create an immediate impact about water resources security. This road map has been developed considering the influencing factors of municipal administration, technological interventions, social impacts, involvement of public and policy implementation. The priority measures listed is based on the levels of ease of implementation, impacts that it can create immediately, short term and long term and cost of measures.

This is based on the indicators that have been identified through several discussions, one to one meeting with diversified stakeholders from water user associations, consumers, households, industrial and commercial establishments.

ICCW recommended the decision makers to focus their attention through the following table with indicators and ten improvement measures for protecting and sustaining the water resources of Rameswaram island.

Based on the above the following heads on analysis, set of suggested priority actions and support from ICCW-IITM summarize the study as a ready reckoner.

Indicators Improvement measures
Water withdrawals Water metering and accounting on the demand and supply sideImproving water distribution and use efficiency
Water productivity Monitoring outputs / turnover with the consumptionMonitoring footfall of tourists and revenue earned with the consumption
Watershed health More emphasis should be laid on 4 R’s to revive restore, renovate, rejuvenate around 60 teerthams that existed 4R’s to be practiced on a sustainable basis
Water governance More participative approaches could be designedEffective allocation of available resources, more planning for future requirements

Set of suggested priority actions for Rameswaram island

  1. Non -revenue water (NRW) reduction- Real time water level and flow monitoring of storage reservoirs, open wells in Water Distribution Networks (WDN) and leakage detection. Target reduction in NRW to less than 10% along with minimizing the pumping costs by 25-30% of the operating expenses
  2. Efficiency of consumption- water conservation measures to reduce the intensity of water withdrawals
    • A simple yet significant water conservation measure is installation of water saving fixtures such as pressure compensation aerators to provide reduction of water consumption from 20 to 4 litres per minute in hand wash basins. This is initially targeted for the hotels, lodges and restaurants. A saving potential of 36.5 million litres per annum
    • Information exchange and communication (IEC) activities in all wards and village panchayats on a quarterly basis to create awareness
  3. Roof top rainwater harvesting- in households, businesses and industrial units through storage and recharge. This can significantly compensate for the shortfall of groundwater during the drought or non-monsoon seasons
  4. Reducing the onset of salinity in groundwater-
    • Aquifer recharge through construction of low permeability subsurface barriers, and, hydraulic barriers i.e injection hydraulic barriers, extraction hydraulic barriers and mixed hydraulic barriers
    • A series of samples could be collected based on mutually agreed locations for testing and analysis for TDS, Chloride and electrical conductivity to assess the current conditions of the groundwater salinity
  5. Watershed health protection- protection of theerthams through 4Rs Revive, rejuvenate, renovate and restore

Provide quality clean drinking water- Use of innovative cost effective community based drinking water treatment technologies

Stakeholders meeting at Rameshwaram municipality and Thangatchi Madahm village Panchayat

This article is written by Mr Sripati Cowlagi. He is an Expert Engineer at ICCW. He is involved in implementation, project management and capacity building.