Several parts of the district are reeling under severe shortage of water.

Based upon groundwater availability and its development, Thalassery and Koothuparamba blocks in the district have been categorised as semi-critical in a recent report by the Ground Water Department. If immediate measures are not taken to check the depleting water levels, the blocks are in danger of being categorised as critical and even overexploited.

The depleting water levels and World Water Day, observed on March 22 every year, serve as a reminder of the need to conserve water.

With two more months to go before the onset of the monsoon, parts of the district are reeling under severe shortage of water.

Of the 64 observation wells, including 34 open wells, spread across the coast, midlands, and highlands in the district, only 20 show a slight rise in water level, while the remaining show a severe decline.

Change in land use pattern and fewer water recharge facilities are among the major causes for the depleting water levels. Razing of laterite hills and filling up of agricultural fields are playing havoc with water conservation. Irresponsible development is also leading to acute water shortage in urban areas, K.M. Ashraf, hydrogeologist in the Ground Water Department here, says. Pumping of water from bore-wells is another factor. Over the past 20 to 25 years, the water level has come down by 1 metre to 2.5 metres in some regions, Mr. Ashraf says.

The summer showers have provided some relief, though the water levels have not increased, officials of the department say. The showers have eased the drinking water scarcity but have proved insufficient for crop cultivation, they say.

Artificial groundwater recharge schemes should be implemented in the midlands and highlands for a permanent solution to the drought conditions, they say. Constructing of check-dams on tributaries of major rivers, which provide temporary relief, can be replaced by implementing sustainable groundwater recharge systems at the micro-level with public participation. These include construction of percolation tanks and ponds in the coastal areas, recharge pits to rejuvenate wells, groundwater dams for midlands, and rooftop rainwater harvesting for highlands.

The district office of the Ground Water Department has constructed four groundwater recharge structures in the past five years, including those at Navodaya Vidyalaya, Chendayad, and Kendriya Vidyalaya, Payyanur.

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