Environment & Biodiversity

The Jal Shakti Ministry intends to build a network of groundwater sensors

The Jal Shakti Ministry is working on an ambitious plan to build a massive network of groundwater sensors that will continuously communicate data on groundwater levels and contaminants.

What is Groundwater?

  • Groundwater is water that exists underground in cracks and crevices in soil, sand, and rock.
  • It is stored in and slowly travels through aquifers, which are geologic formations of soil, sand, and rocks.
  • Aquifers are usually composed of gravel, sand, sandstone, or broken rock such as limestone.
  • Water can travel through these materials due to their huge interconnected gaps, which make them permeable.
  • Aquifers, hand-dug wells, and artesian wells are all different forms of groundwater sources.

Groundwater Monitoring Using Sensors

  • This new endeavour will connect approximately 16,000-17,000 digital water level recorders to piezometers in wells to communicate information digitally.
  • The CGWB intends to expand its network from 26,000 to 40,000 in the next three years.
  • When integrated with other institutions’ comparable networks, India will have approximately 67,000 digitally recordable units to monitor groundwater dynamics.

The significance of the change

  • Groundwater would be visible in the same way that air quality and weather variables are.
  • The data will be available to the general public.
  • It may offer farmers with groundwater forecasts that are useful for planting, as well as updated advisories that can impact state groundwater extraction policies.

Why monitor groundwater?

  • Nitrate pollution has been detected in some areas as a result of the usage of nitrogenous fertilisers.
  • Groundwater contamination, which is primarily “geogenic” (natural), has not altered considerably over time.
  • However, nitrate contamination, as well as fluoride and arsenic contamination, have been reported in specific areas and states.

The current monitoring system

  • Currently, the Central Groundwater Board relies on a network of approximately 26 thousand groundwater observation wells.
  • It necessitates technicians manually measuring the status of a region’s groundwater.

Extraction of Groundwater in India

  • The country’s total annual groundwater recharge has been estimated to be 437.60 billion cubic metres (BCM).
  • The yearly extractable groundwater resource has been estimated as 398.08 billion cubic metres, with actual extraction at 239.16 billion cubic metres.
  • The average stage of groundwater extraction in the country is around 60.08%, with anything above 70% deemed “critical.”
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