The 10th Nat’l Groundwater Symposium Underscored the Approach to Sustainable Management of Groundwater

 In News & Updates

March 19, 2019

The 10th Nat’l Groundwater Symposium on ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Groundwater Resource Management in Nepal’ was held on 18th March, 2019 at Hotel Radisson, Kathmandu as one of the event of the week-long Nepal National Water and Weather Week (NNWWW) 2019 celebrated on the occasion of UN World Water Day. In the opening session, Er. Mahendra B. Gurung, Executive Director of Small Earth Nepal (SEN) warmly welcomed the guests and participants.

Er. Dipak Gyawali, former water resource minister, academician at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), and Chair of the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation delivered keynote address on ‘Groundwater’s 21st Century Challenge: Shifting the Paradigm from Open Access Private Good to Regulated Common Pool Resource’. He made clear how groundwater resource in Nepal is like private good rather than common pool good; due to which the resource has been exploited massively at their mercy. Based on his long experience and studies, he called the concerned government stakeholders to institutionalize groundwater and spring resources management locally at the lowest administrative unit of Nepal i.e. ward level and not by higher administrative units such as rural/urban municipality or district and/or provincial level. Terming that mid-hills of Nepal are water towers, Er. Gyawali cautioned and alarmed that depleting groundwater level would be disastrous if problems and issues of groundwater/ and or spring resources are not addressed at the earliest.

Dr. Rishi Ram Sharma, Joint Secretary at Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS) as chief guest confirmed that if we don’t act now, groundwater will be massive problem not only in cities but also in rural areas and might be across the trans-boundary. Er. Deepak Ghimire, Deputy Director General of the Department of Water Resources and Irrigation as session chair mentioned that due to inappropriate use and mismanagement Nepal has so far failed to prosper by harnessing its abundant water resources of various types; he therefore stressed on it proper utilization and management. Dr. Rabin Malla, Executive Director of CREEW, expressed thankfulness to all the guests and participants from government offices, universities, NGOs, INGOs, companies, media; and session chairs, oral paper and poster presenters.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sangam Shrestha from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand and Prof, Dr. Suresh Das Shrestha from the Central Department of Geology (CDG), Tribhuvan University (TU) were felicitated with certificate of honour for their significant contribution on groundwater research, publication, and its promotion; and initiating the national groundwater symposium in 2009 and helping to successfully continue all the 10 symposiums as annual event until 2019.

Four technical sessions (i) groundwater management (ii) groundwater recharge and potential zoning (iii) poster viewing session and (iv) panel discussion were included respectively in the symposium. The first session comprised 4 presentations related to groundwater systems of Kathmandu valley, construction of irrigation systems in hills, revival of dried spring and groundwater irrigation management through solar powered irrigation system. The second session included 4 presentations related to linkages between groundwater level, rainfall and landuse; spring assessment and potential spring shed identification; identifying the spatial distribution of the deep groundwater recharge process; and water balance component analysis of spring catchment. There were 10 posters displayed in the poster session.

A panel discussion on ’Review of challenges and opportunities for sustainable groundwater resources management in Nepal and way forward’ were carried out in fourth technical session. The panellists Prof. Dr. Suresh Das Shrestha, CDG/TU, Dr. Sanjeev Bikram Rana, Executive Director of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management board (KVWSMB), Mr. Andy Prakash Bhatta, President of Nepal Hydrogeological Association, Mr. Madhukar Upadhyay, watershed expert discussed the current problems, issues and challenges of sustainable management of groundwater resources and possible ways to resolve them.  The discussion mainly raised and highlighted the legal issue ‘who owns the groundwater’, poor database, poor technology, misconception about leaving half the area unbuilt by urban households,  surface water more in priority by government/policy makers than groundwater, lack of dedicated and well equipped government agency for groundwater, inadequate effort for research/study, perception of public that there is huge storage of water beneath the ground, need of including the transboundary groundwater depletion in bilateral talk with neighbouring country, and making sure whether inadequate forest cover is depleting the groundwater level. The panellist also shared some effort of groundwater management. For e.g. guidelines for tubewell drilling and regulations for tubewell abandoning are in place in KTM valley; UGS fund and other external funds being channelled for groundwater research by university and institutions, concerned experts/professional making effort to streamline the issues and challenges in government. Finally, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sangam Shrestha, moderator of the session concluded that research and database management should be emphasized and legal document should be developed with ‘Water Centric Approach Development’.

Before closing the session, Er. Mahendra B. Gurung, Executive Director of SEN acknowledged the various organizations and people with a token of the national groundwater symposium for their contribution and participation in the 10 symposium events held annually during 2009 to 2019.

Dr. Rabin Malla, Executive Director of CREEW concluded the symposium thanking all the contributing organizations, guests, presenters and participants for their support.

In total, 78 participants attended the symposium.

CREEW, SEN, ENPHO, KVWSMB, GWRDB and WECS organized the symposium with SmartPhones4Water Nepal and WaterAid Nepal as co-organizers.

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