Watershed Management

What is watershed ?

Hundreds of millions of poor and marginal farmers rely on degraded land and water resources and struggle to cope with a diverse array of agro-climatic, production and market risks. The rate of land degradation in rain fed areas in India is more. basically on account of soil erosion from run-off. Water is needed to grow the food to adequately feed the future generations. How to produce more and better food and maintain or improve critical ecosystem services without further undermining our environment is a major challenge.

Watershed is defined as a geohydrological unit draining to a common point by a system of drains. All lands on earth are part of one watershed or other. Watershed is thus the land and water area, which contributes runoff to a common point.

Types of Watershed

Watersheds could be classified into a number of groups.. The usually accepted five levels of watershed delineation based on geographical area of the watershed are the following;

  • Macro watershed (> 50,000 Hect)
  • Sub-watershed (10,000 to 50,000 Hect)
  • Milli-watershed (1000 to10000 Hect)
  • Micro watershed (100 to 1000 Hect)
  • Mini watershed (1-100 Hect)
Watershed Management

Watershed management involves the judicious use of natural resource with active participation of institutions, organizations, peoples participation in harmony with the ecosystem.

The watershed management implies, the judicious use of all the resources i.e. land, water, vegetation in an area for providing an answer to alleviate drought, moderate floods, prevent soil erosion, improve water availability and increase food, fodder, fuel and fiber on sustained basis. Watershed to achieve maximum production with minimum hazard to the natural resources and for the well being of people. The management should be carried out on the watershed basis. The task of watershed management includes the treatment of land by using most suitable biological and engineering measures in such a manner that, the management work must be economic and socially acceptable

Components of Watershed Management

The three main components in watershed management are land management, water management and biomass management.

Land Management

Land characteristics like terrain, slope, formation, depth, texture, moisture, infiltration rate and soil capability are the major determinants of land management activities in a watershed. The broad category of land management interventions can be as follows;

Structural Measures:

Structural measure include interventions like contour bunds, stone bunds, earthen bunds, graded bunds, compartmentnal bunds, contour terrace walls, contour trenches, bench terracing, broad based terraces, centripetal terraces, field bunds, channel walls,

Vegetative Measures:

Vegetative measures include vegetative cover, plant cover, mulching, vegetative hedges, grass land management, vettiver fencing, agro-forestry, etc.

Production Measures:

The production measures include interventions aimed at increasing the productivity of land like mixed cropping, strip cropping, cover cropping, crop rotations, cultivation of shrubs and herbs, contour cultivation conservation tillage, land leveling, use of improved verity of seeds, horticulture, etc.

Protection Measures:

Protective measures like landslide control, gully plugging, runoff collection, etc can also be adopted. Adoption of all the interventions mentioned above should be done strictly in accordance with the characteristics of the land taken for management

Water Management

Water characteristics like inflows (precipitation, surface water inflow, ground water inflow) water use (evaporation, evapotranspiration, irrigation, drinking water) outflows (surface water outflow, ground water out flow) storage (surface storage, ground water storage, root zone storage) are the principal factors to be taken care of in sustainable water management. The broad interventions for water management are listed below;

  • Rain Water Harvesting
  • Ground Water Recharge
  • Maintenance of Water Balance
  • Preventing Water Pollution
  • Economic use of water
Contour sowing: (sowing along the contour)

Rainwater harvesting forms the major component of water management. The rainwater collected can be recharged into the ground. Roof top water harvesting, diversion of perennial springs and streams in to storage structures, farm ponds etc are the methods widely used for rainwater harvesting. Some simple and cost effective rainwater harvesting structures are the following;

  • Percolation pits/tanks
  • Recharge trenches/rain pits
  • Recharge wells
  • Ferro cement tanks
  • Farm ponds
  • V ditch
  • Bench terracing

Economic use of water and avoidance of affluence in use of water at individual and community levels may be the major concern for water management in the years to come.

Water storage Bandhara
(Empty cement bag filled with sand)
Biomass management

Major intervention areas for biomass management are indicated below;

  • Eco-preservation
  • Biomass Regeneration
  • Forest Management & Conservation
  • Plant Protection & Social Forestry
  • Increased Productivity of Animals

One of the leading causes of water quality deterioration in rivers and lakes is sediments. Sediments destroy wetlands and block penetration of light into the water column thus killing aquatic life-forms. Rejuvenating river is nothing but rejuvenating entire Eco-system. SSIAST TRUST had taken an initiative in “Kumudavati River Rejuvenation project”, in Bangalore. Recharge wells have been constructed and Kalyanis have been cleaned and repaired .

Desilting work of traditional water tank -undertaken by AOL volunteers

Rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and deposition of rainwater. Uses include water for garden, water for livestock, water for irrigation, etc. In many places the water collected is just redirected to a deep pit with percolation. The harvested water can be used as drinking water as well as for storage and other purpose like irrigation.

Artificial recharge, is needed to enhance the ground water availability which will be a positive approach for the supply round the year. Considering the over all demographic, climatic and socio-economic set up of the urban areas different techniques are applied for rainwater conservation.

Our Agri. Teachers of Maharashtra made awareness program on rainwater harvesting at different villages and explained the working strategy to overcome the challenges. Then local people started making drawing of the area and chalked out the plan. The volunteers of Art Of Living and local village people with their enormous patience and enthusiasm started the work of digging. At last full support comes from nature and the project meets its success. The people of Bhadli, Jalke, Ringangaon, Katpur, in Maharashtra are now enjoying the gift of nature as a blessings of these projects.

The people of Bhadli, Jalke, Ringangaon,katpur in Maharashtra are now enjoying the gift of nature as a blessings of these projects