One of the CSIRO’s recent international water projects has been to identify key future challenges and opportunities for water – its use, planning and management – in the Brahmani Basin in India. This project has been undertaken as part of the Memorandum of Understanding on water between the Governments of India and Australia. It established a partnership between the Government of India and CSIRO, in building capacity in the Government of India to sustainably manage their water resources and enabling CSIRO to adapt research to meet the water resource challenges of India. This included the provision of training opportunities for Indian staff members in order to create a collaborative process.
Alongside capacity building, CSIRO used a modelling approach to understand the currently available water resources, and explore potential investments in water management with a view to improving agricultural production to underpin improved livelihoods in the Basin. Whilst agriculture makes a vital contribution to the Indian economy, contributing close to 16 % of GDP, more than half of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Irrigated agriculture is a large and growing contributor to the Indian agricultural economy and improving irrigation water delivery is a critical need. The CSIRO project used a river system model of the Brahmani Basin to address issues of improved management of water resources for agriculture, industry, energy, critical human needs and the environment. The project assessed the benefits of investments in current infrastructure in the Basin and in the development of new infrastructure as well as the potential impacts of climate change.
A study of ground water trends was completed, five districts in the region were identified as suffering from declining groundwater-level trends. One district was shown as experiencing a strong rising ground water trend in the pre-monsoon. Overall, key areas were located where the interaction between surface water recharge and ground water pumping were leading to declining or rising water levels.
A review of agriculture in the region was also conducted, the report is available here. It found that there was low crop productivity, the extent of which varied between basin districts. Development of irrigation infrastructure was identified as key to increasing productivity and livelihood, specifically in the upper part of the basin. Local water harvesting and farm level water management also have the potential to improve productivity. Overall more research in agriculture and cropping systems is necessary to improve understanding and benefit the region.
An in-depth technical report is available here for further information.
CSIRO has established an enduring partnership in India to continue to meet the challenges of sustainably managing water resources. This legacy is embodied in relationships formed, use and application analysis methods and an understanding of how to communicate science to action in policy. The outcomes from the project have the potential to underpin a dialogue to support developing a basin plan for the Brahmani Basin.
Project Leader: Carmel Pollino