Status of natural springs in the Melamchi region of the Nepal Himalayas in the context of climate change
Natural springs and small rivers are the major sources of water for drinking, livestock feeding, irrigation and other purposes in the Middle Hills of Nepal. The Melamchi area is in the northeastern part of Kathmandu from where the Melamchi River is considered as a major source of drinking water for the people of Kathmandu city. This paper examines the characteristics of natural springs in terms of their distribution, discharge, water utilization and conservation in the context of climate change. Out of the total surveyed springs of the Melamchi area, 93% are permanent and two-thirds of the total springs are located in mid-elevation (1500–2500 m). One-fourth of the total springs are small in terms of discharge and are used for multiple purposes such as drinking, livestock, irrigation and household cleaning. Around 45% of the springs provide a source of drinking water for up to five households. Our work has shown that the water volume in about 30% of the springs has decreased over the last decade. The springs located in mid-elevation with discharge less than 5 liters per minute are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities. The 2015 Nepal earthquake had a huge and immediate impact on the water volume of the springs in our study with an immediate drying effect in about 18% of the springs.
KeywordsMelamchi Climate change Natural springs Distribution Discharge rate Spring conservation Water utilization Nepal Himalayas
This paper is based on research financed under the Climate Change Research Grants Program implemented by the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. The Program is part of the Mainstreaming Climate Change Risk Management in Development project. This project is a component of Nepal’s Pilot Program for Climate Resilience and is executed by the Ministry of Population and Environment (Nepal), financed by the Climate Investment Funds, administered by the Asian Development Bank with technical assistance from ICEM, METCON and APTEC. We are also thankful to Professor Narendra Raj Khanal of Tribhuvan University for his comments on the draft manuscript.
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