Shashikant Mehetre, Tushar Jagatap, Sagar Chavan and Rahul Gore
Water conservation is very vital in drought prone areas for drinking water security in India. Severe water scarcity of drinking water was being faced for 6 to 9 months in by 60% of villages in the Dahegaon watershed in year 2018 due to depletion in ground water level. The land degradation over the years resulted in silted tanks, reduced storage capacities and potential of recharge and observed that narrowed down of natural drainage. The crop productivity and area under cultivation was less due to unavailability of water for protective irrigation. With an aim to conserve water to improve drinking water availability during water scarce period (Jan-June), various measures implemented 6068 ha watershed to reduce water stress and build capacities for sustainable use of resources. It included rejuvenating the streams, tanks, soil conservation treatments, promotion of water use efficient technologies and build capacities of community to manage natural resources.
There is a reduction of 82.92% in the requirement of tankers over the baseline year 2017 while dry spell analysis shows that despite 58 days of dry spell in year 2021, tankers were not required. The comparative analysis of well water levels (May month) below ground level (bgl) in 96 observation wells showed that there is a change of 10.38% (2.7m) in maximum water level bgl, 5.26% in minimum bgl water levels and 13.79% (1.79m) in average bgl water levels. The area under agriculture is also increased in summer season under crop land 29.03 % year 2021 against Base line 12.50% in year 2017and under (plantation) horticulture crops 9.90 % against base line 2.14% respectively. The area under water bodies in March season also shows increase 124 % against base line year2017. The NDVI & NDMI mean value results show positive change over the baseline 0.34 from 0.23 and 0.02 from -0.00 respectively. The overall water conservation approach found effective to minimize dependency on tanker water supply for drinking and also increased area under agriculture and horticulture. The approach is replicable in similar drought prone areas to resolve water availability problems. Further study to understand the impact on agriculture and drinking water in drought years is essential.
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