Nammal Namukkāyi

Rebuild Kerala Initiative

Changes needed in Water source system for flood re-construction

Water Management

Kerala is blessed with a rich endowment of water resources. It has a high average annual precipitation of 3,000mm and has 44 small and medium rivers, several lakes and ponds, a vast stream network, as well as many springs and extensive wetlands. However, this natural system of water resources varies both spatially and temporally, resulting in occasional floods and droughts.

The consecutive reoccurrence of floods in 2018 and 2019 in different parts of the State raises questions on the resilience of the state to withstand and recover incidences of heavy precipitations in the monsoon months. Inadequate land management and poor water management have led to the aggravation of losses to these events. The extensive encroachment of the river flood plains and the wetlands coupled with hindrances to the natural drainage owing to limited land availability in the State and poor compliance and lack of revision of existing building codes and lack of revision of it, existing disaster management plans to the scale of panchayats and the lack of river flood plains protection policies have further escalated the issues related to management of the water resources in the state.

More than 60% of the population in Kerala are dependent upon dug wells for their drinking water needs. The water table in many regions has gone down at an alarming rate. Out of 10,219 wells observed by CGWB, there was a decline in the water level for 5,699 wells. Some of the studies suggest lowering of the water table in 71% of the wells. Thus, declining water levels in the dug wells of Kerala is one of the most pressing issues being faced by its citizens and recent reoccurrence of events of flooding and landslide, contrary to our beliefs, has further aggravated this challenge. Thus, protection and improvement of local and community natural water sources and ensuring round the year water availability in (domestic and community) dug wells is a must.

As already mentioned in the section on drought, it is evident that lack of / insufficient water availability or incidences of drought in Kerala has geographical-hydrological and meteorological reasons, but the circumstances aggravating its severity and duration are created by anthropogenic activities over decades.

Pollution of the natural water bodies and streams are also a major concern, especially where the unplanned urban sprawl is happening. This makes the conservation and management of water resources in the State inseparably linked to effective systems for the management of solid waste, liquid waste, and septage.

Therefore, the important questions that the State is trying to respond to are related to the effective management of the water resources than its availability alone. Effective management of the excessive run-off during events of heavy downpour, effective management of catchments round the year to mitigate incidences of drought, effective coordination between downstream and upstream user within a river basin, effective land use planning for making room for river and discouraging reclamation of wetlands, promoting and ensuring effective waste management etc. requires definite policy push and citizens support for actual implementation of the plans.

In order to enhance the resilience of the water resources systems and the citizens of the State against water-related hazards, it is critical for the citizens to voice their opinions, suggestions, and recommendations based on their first-hand experience to numerous problems related to floods, droughts or any other issue pertaining to water and conservation in the State.

The following questions may be discussed on subjects related to water management and enhancing overall resilience against water-related hazards.

  1. How has the encroachment of wetlands impacted the incidence of flooding? How can the wetlands be reclaimed from human activities for ecological usage?
  2. According to you, what role does siltation of the water bodies have in the event of flooding? What measures can be taken by the state and the community to arrest the excessive silt from depositing in critical places?
  3. How has sand mining and the resultant loss of sand cushion in river beds affected the water level in traditional water bodies in the area?
  4. What measures should be taken by the State and the community to ensure round the year availability of potable quality water in dug wells?
  5. What are the sources of waste (solid or liquid or fecal) polluting the water bodies in your area? What measures could be taken up to mitigate the same?
  6. What kind of information is required by the people to be able to effectively manage water availability in their wells and prevent contamination of water bodies like ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, etc?
  7. Currently, what measures are taken by you to manage your fecal sludge? How does the mismanagement of human waste impact contamination during floods? What measures can be taken to prevent such contamination in the future?

Chief Executive Officer,
Rebuild Kerala Initiative,
1 A,
Calsar Heather Tower,
Opp Hilton Tower Hotel,
Punnen Road,Statue,
Trivandrum 695001


Office: 0471 2517276