Water Quality and Ecosystem Management: A Catchment Planning Approach

This project on river restoration stems from a spring 2011 assessment of the Gomti River, which begins in northern India and flows over 900 km to the southeast where it joins the river Ganga (Ganges). Designed to investigate long-term, direct impacts of human-induced change and climate variability on the river-system, the assessment included water quality monitoring data from 30 river segments and satellite data to describe changes in land use throughout the basin. Our assessment revealed that the entire Gomti basin has experienced severe reduction in forest cover and wetlands associated with increasing urbanization. As a result, most districts in the basin are now deficient in forest cover water availability in the river is decreased. In addition, the monitoring data indicate the water quality has deteriorated due to discharge of untreated wastewater.

The previous management regimes relied heavily on engineering the river-system, which led to overexploitation of the river and its environs. I propose a change in strategy from a project-based to an ecosystem-based management approach that emphasizes ecosystem conservation. Specific steps include catchment planning for conservation and improvement of the physical environment, awareness of how land use changes in the eco-fragile areas can be minimized, prioritized water apportioning based on utilization and allocation for different sectors, and water quality standards that are to be enforced by regulatory agencies. 


Lead Investigator: