New tech to study critical water recharge zones of Nainital Lake
Forest Research Institute Dehradun, IIT Roorkee and Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) Dehradun, will collaborate on a research project where water isotope technology will be used to study and identify critical water recharge zones of Nainital Lake.
The ₹1.8 crore project funded by Central government, will be completed by 2022, said Vishal Singh, deputy executive director CEDAR and an expert on Himalayan water bodies.
“Under this project, we will put isotope water in different areas on the slopes around the Nainital lake and take measurements related to its seepage and recharging of the lake. As we can differentiate normal water from the isotope water, we can get a lot of details about the way the water is seeping into the lake through different recharge zones. This will help in locating critical water recharge zones of the lake,” he said.
Singh said this will be a first of its kind detailed study to identify all major water recharge zones around the Nainital Lake.
“The data we get from the study will help us know what needs to be done to save this Himalayan lake, given the fluctuations in its water level and reduction in overall depth,” he said.
Singh added the project is being funded by the Union ministry of water resources. “CEDAR will be the lead collaborator in the project given our expertise in such projects. We are conducting a similar research project in Mussoorie,” he said.
CEDAR is already studying the critical water recharge zones in Mussoorie under the “Climate Adaptive Water management practices in Mussoorie funded by Canada-based International Development Resources Centre. The project which started in 2016 will conclude in September 2019.
Singh, along with researchers from the geography department of Cambridge University, have studied the critical water sources of Nainital Lake over the years and found that Sukhatal, nearly one kilometre above the lake, was supplying 40 to 50% of the subsurface water to the lake and needed to be revived along with other recharge zones for the long term protection of the lake.
Nainital Lake, surrounded by hills, is situated at an elevation of 1,938 m. It is under threat from factors like over-dependence on its water for drinking, changes in demographics, climate change, development initiatives, surge in population, siltation, constructions and encroachments on the slopes around the lake, rampant concretisation and lack of long term planning.
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