An ACIAR project (MARVI) was established to evaluate village level interventions, including managed aquifer recharge in sustaining rural livelihoods in hardrock areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat in drought prone NW India (Maheshwari et al 2014). The subject of this paper is the description of a method and results obtained from evaluation of recharge from four check dams over 3 years.
At each checkdam a topographic survey was used to produce area- and volume – elevation curves, a gaugeboard was installed and daily readings taken when the checkdam contained water and rainfall was recorded daily at raingauges, and groundwater levels recorded daily in nearby wells. The water balance was structured so as to minimise the error in recharge estimation. Some basins were scraped and the impact on recharge rate was recorded. Data were acquired by farmers trained and analyses were undertaken by the lead author, PhD student at Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology in Udaipur.
Recharge rates and annual values were determined and related to catchment runoff and groundwater use for irrigation. Approximately 18% of the groundwater used for irrigation was recharged from check dams. Scraping of check dams in the dry season was found to have an effect on the recharge effectiveness of checkdams and manual and mechanical scraping resulted in quite different outcomes.
This research has produced a template for evaluating recharge dam effectiveness with minimal data that can be collected by farmers using smart phones, including quality assurance. It enables benefit-cost analysis of programs for recharge enhancement and maintenance, and is opening prospects for development of further apps to allow upscaling of this work in India and elsewhere.