Resources | VOL. 15, ISSUE 91, July-August 2015

Kerala’s Dwindling Freshwater Resources

It would appear that with about 3m of annual average rainfall and a variety of natural and man-made freshwater sources, Kerala, is a land of surplus water. But, studies by reputed research institutions in the State reveal that Kerala is no ‘safe state’ as regards fresh water availability. Ensuring uninterrupted year-round fresh water supplies remains the greatest challenge to water managers owing to high human stress in this densely populated State. Although Kerala receives a large amount of rainfall, its distribution is erratic. Storing the water in surface and subsurface, natural and man-made reservoirs seems an attractive solution. However, rapid economic growth and human interference in the past 3-4 decades has deteriorated the capability of hills, forests, and wetlands to serve as water reservoirs for the population. This has a telling effect on the availability of water during summer. The scenario is grim between January and May, when most irrigation needs are to be met, salinity intrusion is to be arrested, hydel power has to be generated and drinking water scarcity is acute. The total discharge of water in all the 44 rivers in Kerala together amounts to 77,900 million cm (mcm). This figure is only about 75 per cent of the water discharge of a single major river like the Godavari. Thus, despite the presence of so many rivers in Kerala, it is no...

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