News & Notes 690:On the current water situation

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690 icon.jpg   News & Notes 690
11 March 2017

On the current water situation

If you were here last Oct-Dec, you experienced the failed monsoon and you probably know that Tamil Nadu Government recently declared Tamil Nadu a drought state. The situation for the state overall is a critical one, resulting in an agricultural crisis and farmer suicides.

Even though we are administratively in Tamil Nadu, we are in an area that is very different than, for example, the plains of the Southern part of the state. It’s simply not the same context, so it’s important to look at our particular situation. For example, we have a very different geology than other parts of the state. As for rainfall, within Auroville, annual rainfall was 672 mm in 2016, compared to the 2088 mm rainfall in 2015 (both measurements taken in Aurogreen), while historical average rainfall is about 1280 mm/year.

So what does that mean? Auroville is in a potential drought state. While we had a few showers that kept our forests green in 2016, we can assume that based on our rainfall quantity and pattern, we did not get adequate recharge into the aquifers.

It’s difficult to make predictions about what that means for the coming summer. Ground water science is not precise, and we are further challenged by the gap in data collection in the past 10 years. The Water Group, with the help of Ramesh (Pony Farm), started again the regular monitoring of more than 85 wells in Auroville in June 2016. The Water Group continues to collect and interpret information to see how this drought might affect us, and we’re trying to connect data of the past to new data of today. We aim to keep you informed via weekly posts like this one.

Regardless, what this means for all of us is an increased effort to use water cautiously and consciously. Rethink how to water your gardens, for example, instead of using fresh water from the wells, collect your dish washing water and your shower water to be reused for your gardens. Fix leaking pipes. And get ready for rain – we don’t know when it will come, but we have to be ready. Repair bunds, clean out collection ponds. Any work that we do now will only help in the future.

As you can see, there’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to ground water science. What we know for certain is this: It’s time to stop relying solely on underground water as our main source of water in Auroville. Multi-sourcing is the way forward. It’s also time to create a water security strategy together.

Talk to us: watergroup (at)