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PROPOSED SAFE WATER IN RURAL INDIA

Example of a water well head protection project:


Overview: India has the second largest population on Earth with more than 1 billion people.  About half of India’s population, 522 million, practice open defecation. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water and the lack of proper hygiene practices. In addition, more than 500 children under the age of five years old die each day from diarrhea in India alone. Over 163 million people in India lack access to safe water and 201 million people in India lack access to improved sanitation.  There is a water and sanitation crisis in India.  The proposed project is to teach graduate geology and environmental science students in the class-room and in the field to inspect rural water supply wells, and with the goal of helping farmers rehabilitate and seal water wells worthy of repair and to develop groundwater management plans near water supply wells. 

Project:  Historic hand-dug wells are common sources of water in rural Maharashtra, India where water quality can be compromised.  Improvements will be proposed and tested using simple well head protection measures.  This will become a part of a groundwater management plan that could be enforced by local regulating agencies in Maharashtra. Ultimately agricultural and industrial land use impacts to groundwater will be reduced by implementing this program.  This project is also designed to mitigate some of the negative impacts to groundwater resources from climate change drivers.

The Lecturer will provide class-room workshops on basic water well design, and well head protection measures for graduate students at SRTM University that will be performed at selected well locations in Maharashtra, India.  Part of the project will be to train geology graduate geology students as teachers to instruct local farmers on best groundwater protection practices.  The project will explore through a literature research phase of activity the impacts and drivers of agricultural and industrial land degradation and climate-change factors related to degraded well water quality. The workshop will feature the basics components of a groundwater management plan for a selected sub-basin within Maharashtra. Field studies will feature actual well inspections with graduate students, well head mitigation design, and implementation (if possible), mapping of agricultural/industrial and climate-change drivers such as more intense flooding and agricultural/industrial runoff near the selected wells, and methodologies to improve water quality in historic wells. 

Water parameters will be discussed in class and water samples will be collected in the field for general minerals (Ca, Mg, Na, K, Cl, SO4, NO3, F), total hardness, total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, oxidation-reduction potential (Redox), pH, temperature, conductivity, and other parameters, including e coli and total coliform.  Pre-well head mitigation water samples and post-well head mitigation water samples will be collected to evaluate the success of the groundwater management plan and water well head protection program Samples will be collected during post-monsoon seasons. Students will complete post-monsoon water sampling events. The Lecturer will provide instruction, discussion and management of post monitoring from United States via Skype or another method of communication. The trained students will work with rural farmers to improve water quality by increasing well head protection and reducing upgradient contaminants in the area of each hand-dug water supply well.

Host University: SRTM University, Nanded, Maharashtra, India; Professors Vasant Wagh, D.B. Panaskar, S.K.G. Krshnamacharylulu, V. Kumar and others

Background: James Jacobs has over 30 years of experience as a hydrogeologist and well driller.  He is a Fulbright Senior Scholar and has won four awards between 2003 and 2012.  He has written five technical books and has served as an elected official on a wastewater agency board for 16 years.  He is a National Ground Water Association Fellow and a Virtual Fellow with the U.S. State Department.

Example of Groundwater Sub-Basin; Kadava River Basin, Maharashtra, India

The Kadava River Sub-Basin is a good example of a region with water quality issues.  The sub-basin drains into the Godavari River in Maharashtra, India.  Most farmers in the rural area rely on hand-dug water supply wells, some which are hundreds of years old and lack even basic well head protection or surface seals.  Figure 1 shows the Kadava River Sub-Basin, with selected water wells studied by Professors Vasant Wagh, D. B. Panaskar and others.


Figure 1. Example of sub-basin (left) with rural hand-dug wells providing a significant portion of water resources for rural communities.  The general geology is characterized by younger and older flood plains, with the late Cretaceous Deccan Plateau basalts at various geomorphic plateaus (Figure 2, right).  The Deccan basalts represent one of the largest volcanic features on Earth and feature fractured bedrock aquifers.

Hand-dug wells in the area show the lack of basic surface protection or sanitary seals to keep surface contaminants from entering the water supply wells. The proposed work addresses training graduate students in water protection theory so they can teach local farmers about groundwater protection in rural areas and mitigation measures such as proper well retrofits, which can be used to improve groundwater quality.  The teaching will develop an India-specific inspection methodology and checklist which will help guide field decisions along with existing laboratory analytical results.  It may be that some hand-dug wells will be deemed unsuitable for domestic consumption and not worthy of rehabilitation and repair.

Surrounded by a vineyard, the hand-dug well (Figure 3) shows the black soil around 1 meter (3 ft) deep in the New Flood Plain region near Shivare Village in the Chandwad Tehsil, underlain by weathered basalt.  The arrow is 1 m (3 ft). Figure 4 shows a dug well from Palkhed Village in the older flood plain in Niphad Tehsil. The weathered portion of the well (arrow in lower right) is covered with concrete to stabilize the wall.  The underlying basalt (arrow near center of photo) is compacted and stable.  The well is about 6 m (20 ft) wide and 20 m (66 ft) deep.  


Figure 3 (left) shows a hand-dug well in the New Flood Plain region is underlain by weathered basalt.  Figure 4 (right) shows a dug well in the older flood plain region.  Both wells lack even general well head protections and surface seals.

Project Questions and Answers 
Question:  How many contact hours are you hoping to gain with future courses?

Answer:  The project contains up to 40 hours of contact time in the class-room: teaching, workshops, exercises and calculations.  Of the four-week program, one week will be in the class-room.  Part of that time will be practicing with survey and GPS equipment, field meters, and other equipment prior to going into the field.  The remainder of the time will be spent in the field performing well inspections and designing mitigation solutions for unsafe wells.  The lecturers will work with the professors and graduate students, so they can perform the work on a larger scale in India and so they can work with rural farmers to show the importance of well head protection and groundwater management plans.


Question :  How many people/communities (ballpark) that you were in contact were affected?

Answer:  We met dozens of rural residents in Maharashtra who used unprotected wells for drinking water.  The wells are hundreds of years old and have little in the way of basic well head protection.

Question:  How many people/communities are you hoping to help in the near/far future?

Answer: depending on funding, from 10 to 40 communities, which would probably help hundreds to thousands of rural farmers.

Question:  How long were you in Nanded or Maharashtra in the past?

Answer: 42 days in January-February 2012, as a Fulbright Senior Specialist.  The host institution was the School of Earth Sciences of the Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University (SRTM University) and D. Panaskar, Ph.D. was the Director of the School of Earth Sciences Program.

Question:    How many contact hours (ballpark) would you say you had locally/teaching?

Answer:  The 2012 hydrogeology workshops included 42-contact hours in a workshop and additional lectures.  I invited engineer Chin Man Mok, Ph.D., P.E., and hydrogeologist Stephen J. Baker, P.G., C.H.G. to also provide groundwater-related lectures and teaching.     

Contact Information:
James A. Jacobs, P.G., C.H.G.
Hydrogeologist                
Clearwater Group
229 Tewksbury Ave.,       
Pt. Richmond, CA  94801 USA
Dir Tel: 415-381-5195      Dir Fax: 415-381-5816
Main Tel: 510-307-9943   Cell: 510-590-1098
Email: jjacobs@clearwatergroup.com 
Website: www.clearwatergroup.com 
Research interests, workshops and books: www.jamesajacobs.net   


 

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Figure 1. Example of sub-basin (left) with rural hand-dug wells providing a significant portion of water resources for rural communities.  The general geology is characterized by younger and older flood plains, with the late Cretaceous Deccan Plateau basalts at various geomorphic plateaus


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Figure 2 - The Deccan basalts represent one of the largest volcanic features on Earth and feature fractured bedrock aquifers.


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Figure 3 (left) shows a hand-dug well in the New Flood Plain region is underlain by weathered basalt.  Figure 4 (right) shows a dug well in the older flood plain region.  Both wells lack even general well head protections and surface seals.

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