Archive for August, 2008


Water wise

August 30, 2008


It’s the lifeline


Think of any new development coming up in a city and the first consideration would be the source of water. Isn’t it difficult to imagine that till the 1960s the borewell as a technology did not exist in India?

— Photo: K. Pichumani

Play it safe: Continuously monitor the quality of borewell water.

It is difficult to imagine that till the 1960s, the borewell as a technology did not exist in India; that it required persuasion to get decision makers and farmers to appreciate the fact that lots of water could come up through a four-and-a-half-inch diameter pipe which went deep into the ground.

Now, India survives because of this pipe which became a six-inch pipe and now is also a eight-inch pipe. First, the pipe went 80 feet down; now it goes 1,500 feet in some places and provides for Karnataka survival water for upwards of 45,000 habitations. And almost all cities depend to varying degrees on groundwater.

Think of any building coming up in a city and the first consideration of the owner or the developer would be a source of water for the development of the site. Usually, the question is where should I dig a borewell and how do I go about it. A dowser is usually more popular than a hydro-geologist.


People’s faith in faith is more than in science, but if you get a ‘2-in-1’, a hydro-geologist who also wields a pendulum or a fork, the better. This is the abysmal state of the science of groundwater in our country and the complete ignorance that we display towards understanding it scientifically.

Large-scale utility providers of water such as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board do not have a single hydro-geologist working for them. Universities and colleges do not have quality training programme and there is virtually no skill upgradation centre.

So, what is the advice to a borewell digger? Get hold of a good hydro-geologist and get him to do a detailed analysis of your site. He should be able to give you a good soil and lithological profile. Keep that map. He should also be able to suggest potential points of drilling and the depth at which water will likely become available. Approximate depths of casing required and how to go about selecting the right pump should also come from him.

Do not forget to get suggestions on recharge points and some tips on maintaining your borewell.

When you drill the borewell finally, keep the records carefully. Even failed borewells have tremendous information, so keep the knowledge on these points carefully mapped on a plan.


Continuously monitor the quality of your borewell water and measure the summer and the rainy season discharge quantities. Develop a maintenance system for all the appurtenances such as the pump and the electrical systems. An annual cleaning of the borewells is also recommended. Fix a water meter and a separate electric meter for your borewell. This will give valuable information.

Understanding the role of groundwater, taking care of the aquifer quantity and quality and developing the science behind groundwater will be crucial to the sustainable availability of water. Each one of us has a role to play if we have a borewell. In this science lies water wisdom.