Survey in March records steady depletion up to 20 cm
While skyscrapers increase in height and density at the cost of natural water resources like paddy fields, the groundwater level in the district has touched a new low this year.
A March-2013 survey by the Groundwater Department of their 54 sample wells across the district show a steady depletion, ranging from 1 m to 20 cm, in groundwater level.
Indiscriminate consumption, growing rate of urbanisation, and resultant factors such the levelling of paddy fields have brought down groundwater recharge capacity, Ajith Kumar, District Officer, Groundwater Department, said.
That this depletion in water level is seen consistently across the district is apparent from the survey figures of the department taken over the past three years.
For example, official statistics show that in Kodiyathur panchayat, the groundwater level was 6.04 m in March 2011.
But in March 2012, the water table decreased to 7.11 m. This year in March, the levels dipped to 8.36 m.
Similarly, at Elathur, the water level was 6.18 m in March 2011, 6.39 m in March 2012, and 6.87 m in March 2013.
In the Koyilandy municipality, the water level went down from 6.08 m in 2011 to 6.32 m in 2012. Finally, it came down to 6.60 m in March 2013.
In the Vadakara municipality, the water table slipped from 4.80 m in 2011 to a marginal high of 4.78 m in 2012, only to dip again to a three-year low of 5.02 m in 2013.
Again in Cheruvannur-Nallalam panchayat located within the Corporation limits, groundwater availability has dropped from 3.47 m in 2011 to 4.25 m in 2012, and finally to 4.65 m in March 2013.
“With more high-rises cropping up, consumption has increased. A person requires 70 l of water a day in Kerala where water recharging ability is decreasing by the day. Imagine what the consumption would be in an apartment complex that houses 100 people?” K. Radhakrishnan, senior hydro-geologist with the department, said.
Meanwhile, a high-level committee led by Minister for Panchayats and Social Welfare M.K. Muneer has ordered the district administration to waste no time and dig more borewells to tide over the impending drought-like situation.
As per official records, over 50 applications to dig borewells are pending with the Groundwater Department. Survey has been completed in 38 locations. Eight bore wells, four of which are in Thiruvambady panchayat, have already been dug.
But environment activists caution that borewells may do more harm than good with many being dug up to a depth of 90 m before striking water.
“The borewells will be spread all over. I have asked the department officials to identify feasible locations for them,” Dr. Muneer told The Hindu.