Watershed Management

A healthy watershed management means a healthier city!

A watershed is a geo-hydrological unit comprising land and water within the confines of drainage divides. The concept of watershed development is based on the idea that rainwater can be harvested, the direct run-off of water reduced and the groundwater recharged. Watershed management has been a comprehensive approach aimed at optimizing the use of water, land and vegetation in any area. It is highly effective in channelizing water availability that helps to alleviate drought, moderate floods, prevent soil erosion, increase fuel, fodder and agricultural production on a sustained basis while keeping the inherent productivity of the soil resource intact.

Out of the total area of Gujarat state, 88% falls under arid and semi-arid climatic zones. At present, about 23% of cultivated area in the state is irrigated while 77% is rain fed. Even harnessing all the irrigation potential, the irrigated area would be around 45%. Thus, about 55% would be under the rain fed. Watershed management has emerged as a viable alternative for integrated management of resources to optimize the potential of rain fed areas facilitating improved agricultural productivity leading to poverty alleviation, food security, environmental protection, access to safe energy and drinking water facility as well. 

Rapid population pressure has led to over-exploitation and improper utilization of the available land and water resources that resulted in large scale deforestation, heavy soil loss and periodical floods due to heavy sedimentation in downstream areas. Among these factors, paucity of water principally limits the establishment and performance of plants, animals and also restricts natural regeneration. Watershed management approach which is gaining importance is basically an integrated approach involving scientists, extension workers, administrators and farmers at field level, yet effective implementation of this programme calls for greater collaborative approach and effective interaction at various levels. Watershed management reduces runoff, soil and nutrient loss thereby, improves in-situ soil moisture conservation, groundwater recharge, cropping intensity and eventually productivity of arable as well as non-arable land. Thus, the watershed management approach is helpful in attaining sustainability in agriculture.