Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sri Lankan aquifer depleting from overuse

Dilrukshi Handunnetti in The single limestone aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula, is gradually depleting through overuse, researchers say.

"The area suffers from severe groundwater imbalance which might reach crisis proportions in the future," Shanti de Silva, one of two scientists who carried out the research for the agricultural department of the University of Jaffna, told SciDev.Net.

 At a presentation of the research results last month (18 April), de Silva called for a regulatory framework to optimise groundwater use in Jaffna peninsula — which was captured by the Sri Lankan army from separatist rebels in May 2009, ending decades of civil strife.

Originally published in Tropical Agricultural Research (in December 2012), the results showed that  the potential recharge of the aquifer in the dry season was approximately 14 per cent of that in the wet season — showing up a serious contrast between the two main seasons.

"Water resources of the basin remain almost constant while the demand for water continues to increase. Moreover, due to uneven distribution of rainfall, water resources lack replenishment," the report said.

...The researchers recommend extraction of 50 per cent of the annual recharge to prevent a severe imbalance developing in the aquifer, the main resource for agriculture, domestic use and water supply on the Jaffna peninsula....

Dried up in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, shot by Gerald Pereira, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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