Recharging floodwaters to depleted aquifers for irrigation: Findings from a multi-scale assessment in the Ganges basin, India
GRIPP Case Profile - Issue 04
Pragmatic, cost-effective, socially inclusive and scalable solutions that reduce risks from recurring cycles of floods and droughts would greatly benefit many emerging economies. One promising solution known as Underground Transfer of Floods for Irrigation (UTFI) involves refilling depleted aquifers with seasonal high-flows to provide additional groundwater for irrigated agriculture while also mitigating floods. The potential for this solution has been broadly assessed to be present across large parts of South Asia. The first pilot scale implementation of UTFI was carried out in a rural community of the Upper Gangetic Plain in India and its performance assessed over three years from technical, environmental, socioeconomic and institutional perspectives. The piloting results are promising and show that UTFI has the potential to enhance groundwater storage and control flooding if replicated across the Ramganga basin. The challenges, gaps and options for more wide-scale implementation are identified and discussed. In areas of high potential, policy makers in India and elsewhere should consider UTFI as an option when making decisions that address climate vulnerability and other water-related development challenges.