November 15, 2019
Nalanda University organized a workshop and a follow up visit of proposed project sites under the Australian Centre of International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) funded project on 15 th and 16 th November 2019. The aim of the workshop was to examine the multi-dimensional challenges associated with Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) technology in South Bihar. The workshop was inaugurated by Honourable Vice Chancellor Prof. Sunaina Singh. There were around 70 participants in the workshop, including invited speakers, faculty members of Nalanda University, project coordinators, research fellows, farmers, Nalanda district agriculture officials, and students. The workshop was coordinated by Dr. Prabhakar Sharma and organized by the team of ACIAR project.
The workshop covered three broadly defined themes pertaining to the project: (1) Aquifer characterization and mapping for understanding the geologic framework of aquifers, their hydrologic characteristics, water quality in the aquifers and how they change over time; (2) Implementation of ASR Pits for understanding the complexities in implementing the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) technology, managing water quality in aquifers, dealing with potential clogging and other operations and management issues in the ASR-based recharge pits; and (3) Agrarian changes and environmental vulnerabilities for assessment of social perception about the ASR technology adoption, measurement of environmental risks caused by groundwater depletion and related agrarian changes.
The outcome of the workshop was aligned with the newly created Jal Shakti Ministry of the Government of India by taking a holistic approach to the unique water problems of the nation, supporting State policies, and incorporating lessons from different on-going efforts. It was concluded that ASR technology could be of particular interest in the context for both Marginal Alluvial and Fractured aquifers. Rajgir is a fine example of both, given the heterogeneity of aquifer characteristics and its potential to serve the growing water crisis in the key agrarian belt of the country. While Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) has begun to proliferate across the country, AICAR project is unique in initiating a multi-disciplinary database to study aspects related to both water quantity and quality. It is important to continue investigating important questions related to (1) the introduction of oxygenated water into the deeper aquifers; (2) the rapid depletion of surface storage and its impact on existing ecosystem services; and (3) possible business models for sustaining and scaling interventions, as discussed with the experts in the workshop.