Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-543
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2017-543
 
13 Sep 2017
13 Sep 2017
Status: this preprint was under review for the journal HESS. A revision for further review has not been submitted.

Proximate and underlying drivers of socio-hydrologic change in the upper Arkavathy watershed, India

Veena Srinivasan1, Gopal Penny2, Sharachchandra Lele1, Bejoy K. Thomas1, and Sally Thompson2 Veena Srinivasan et al.
  • 1Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Royal Enclave, Sriramapura, Bengaluru, KA, India
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Abstract. Addressing water security in the developing world involves predicting water availability under unprecedented rates of population and economic growth. Yet the combination of rapid change, inadequate data and human modifications to watersheds poses a challenge, as researchers face a poorly constrained water resources prediction problem. This case study of the data-scarce, upper Arkavathy watershed, near the city of Bengaluru in southern India, attempts to systematically explain the observed disappearance of surface and groundwater in recent decades. The study asks three questions: 1) Can we quantify the change attributable to different drivers? 2) Can we anticipate change? 3) What policy lessons can be drawn? Field experiments, isotopic studies, borewell scans and sensors were deployed to understand hydrologic processes over five years. These were used in a historical reconstruction of the catchment over three decades that replicates the decline. The multi-scale model of the upper Arkavathy, quantifies the contributions of soil and water conservation measures, groundwater depletion and eucalyptus plantations to the decline in surface and groundwater resources. The model results indicate that the catchment hydrology cannot be reconstructed without explicitly including human feedbacks. The system is influenced by both endogenous drivers (social feedbacks to changes in water availability such as irrigation efficiency improvements, soil and water conservation measures and deeper borewells) and exogenous drivers (technological change, pro-development governance and economic forces due to urbanization, which provided access to capital and markets for high-value crops). The research suggests that in a system where productivity of the landscape is limited by water, economic drivers will always push for maximization of water abstraction and use. Unsustainability of resource use is inevitable, in the absence of credible controls on abstraction and use.

Veena Srinivasan et al.

 
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Status: closed (peer review stopped)
Status: closed (peer review stopped)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Veena Srinivasan et al.

Veena Srinivasan et al.

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Short summary
This case study of the data-scarce, upper Arkavathy watershed, near the city of Bengaluru in southern India, attempts to systematically explain the observed disappearance of surface and groundwater in recent decades using a multi-scale model. The results indicate that the disappearance can only be explained by including human drivers – both social feedbacks to changes in water availability and external drivers such as technology change and urbanization.