Water Management: Effects on Human Health and Nutrition

  • G. JacksEmail author
  • D. S. C. Thambi
Part of the Springer Transactions in Civil and Environmental Engineering book series (STICEE)


India was a net importer of foods at independence 1947. The “green revolution” in the following decades changed this dramatically. Affordable fertilizers, better seeds and irrigation were major factors behind this, irrigation being the main factor. While this has improved nutrition, problems like salinization, alkalinisation and “mining” of trace elements may have effects on human health. Excess fluoride causing dental and skeletal fluorosis is common in connection to alkaline soils. Increase in yields by irrigation and increased use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers have caused mining of trace elements like zinc, important for the immune response in notably children. Increased use of groundwater in households have decreased exposure to bacterial pollution. However, locally the new wells have drawn water from groundwater with elevated arsenic. Construction of dams caused, especially in during the first decades of the “green revolution”, increased spread of vector born diseases. A better “tool box” to combat this problem has gradually been developed. Irrigation takes 75–80% of the total water use. With limited water resources there is an urgent need to save water in agriculture in South Asia by water harvesting, more efficient irrigation methods and new ways of cultivation. Rice, a major food crop, is gradually switched over to be cultivated by intermittent irrigation saving about 40% of the water.


  1. Agarwal AK (1975) Crippling cost of India´s big dams. New Scientist 30:260–261Google Scholar
  2. Akhtar S (2013) Zinc status in South Asian populations—an update. J Health Popul Nutr 31:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alloway BJ (2009) Soil factors associated with zinc deficiency in crops and humans. Environ Geochem Health 31:537–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alveteg T, Jönsson M (1991) Amendment of high fluoride groundwaters. M.Sc. thesis. Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  5. Anushrita BNN, Kapoor N, Srivastava A, Saxena R, Vikram K, Gupta S, Jain J, Valecha N (2015) Prevalence of vector mosquitoes of major mosquito borne diseases in areas of Indira Sagar Project, Madhya Pradesh, India. Int J Mosquito Res 2(3):182–187Google Scholar
  6. Anushrita BNN, Kapoor N, Srivastava A, Saxena R, Singh S, Gupta S, Singh S, Vikram K, Valecha N (2017) Health impact assessment of Indira Sagar project: a paramount to studies on Water Development Projects. Malar J 16:47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arlappa N, Qureshi I, Srinivas R (2013) Fluorosis in India: an overview. Int J Res Dev Health 1(2):97–102Google Scholar
  8. Aubriot O, Prabhakar PI (2011) Water institutions and the “revival” of tanks in South India: what is at stake locally? Water Alternatives 4(3):325–346Google Scholar
  9. Baeza A, Bouma MJ, Dhiman RC, Baskerville EB, Ceccato P, Yadav RS, Pascual M (2013) Long lasting transition toward sustainable elimination of desert malaria under irrigation development. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 110(37):15157–151162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bhanja SN, Mukherjee A, Rodell M, Wada Y, Chattopadhay S, Velicogna I, Pangaluru K, Farmiglietti JS (2017) Groundwater rejuvenation in parts of India influenced by water-policy change implementation. Nat Sci Reports 30, 7: 7453Google Scholar
  11. Bhattacharya P, Chatterjee D, Jacks G (1997) Occurrence of arsenic-contaminated groundwater in alluvial aquifers from delta plains, Eastern India: options for safe drinking water supply. Int J Water Res Dev 13(1):79–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bhattacharya R, Ghosh BR, Mishra PK, Mandal B, Srinivasa Rao C, Sarkar D, Das K, Sankaranarayanan Anil K, Lalitha M, Hati KM, Franzluebbers AJ (2015) Soil degradation in India: challenges and potential solutions. Sustainability 7:3528–3570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown KH, Rivera JA, Bhutta Z, Gibson RS, King JC, Lönnerdal B, Ruel MT, Sandström B, Wasantwisut E, Hotz C (2004) Assessment of the risk of zinc deficiency in populations and options for its control. Food Nutr Bull 25(1 Suppl 1):S99–203Google Scholar
  14. Cakmak I (2009) Enrichement of fertilizers with zinc: an excellent investment for humanity and crop production in India. J Trace Elem Med Biol 23:281–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chakraborti D, Rahman MM, Chatterjee A, Das D, Nayak B, Pal A, Chowdhury UK, Ahmed S, Biswas BK, Sengupta MK, Lodh D, Samanta G, Chakraborty S, Roy MM, Dutta RN, Saha KC, Mukherjee SC, Pati S, Kar PB (2016) Fate of over 480 million inhabitants living in arsenic and fluoride endemic Indian Districts: Magnitude, health, socio-economic effects and mitigation approaches. J Trace Elem Med Biol 38:33–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chandrakanth MG, Romm J (1990) Groundwater depletion in India—institutional management regimes. Nat Res J 30:485–501Google Scholar
  17. Chapagain AK, Hoekstra AY (2004) Water footprints of nations. Value of water research report series no 16, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  18. Central Ground Water Board (2018) Ground Water Scenarios in India.
  19. Central Water Commission (2014) Annual Report 2013–14. p 174Google Scholar
  20. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) (2010) Legislation on water harvesting.
  21. Chinnasamy P, Agoramorthy G (2015) Groundwater storage and depletion trends in Tamil Nadu State, India. Water Res Manag 29(7):2139–2152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. CSSRI (Central Soil Salinity Research Institute). Downloaded 21 Feb 2018
  23. CSWCRTI (Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute) (2011) Vision 2030, pp 36Google Scholar
  24. Das A, Kumar M (2015) Arsenic enrichment in the groundwater of Diphu, Northeast India: coupled application of major ion chemistry, speciation modeling, and multivariate statistical techniques. CLEAN–Soil, Air, Water 43(11):1501–1513Google Scholar
  25. Das N, Patel AK, Deka G, Das A, Sarma KP, Kumar M (2015) Geochemical controls and future perspective of arsenic mobilization for sustainable groundwater management: A study from Northeast India. Groundw Sustain Dev 1(1–2):92–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Das N, Deka JP, Shim J, Patel AK, Kumar A, Sarma KP, Kumar M (2016) Effect of river proximity on the arsenic and fluoride distribution in the aquifers of the Brahmaputra floodplains, Assam, northeast India. Groundw Sustain Dev 2:130–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Das N, Sarma KP, Patel AK, Deka JP, Das A, Kumar A, ..., Kumar M (2017) Seasonal disparity in the co-occurrence of arsenic and fluoride in the aquifers of the Brahmaputra flood plains, Northeast India. Environ Earth Sci 76(4):183Google Scholar
  28. Dhillon KS, Singh J, Dhaliwal BBS, Sharma R, Pannu MS (2009) Patellar luxation in buffalo and its treatment. Buff Bull 28(4):168–169Google Scholar
  29. Dhiman RC, Pahwa S, Dhillon GPS, Dash AP (2010) Climate change and threat of vector-borne diseases in India: are we prepared? Parasitol Res 106:763–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Farooqi A (2015) Arsenic and Fluoride contamination: a Pakistan perspective. Springer, Berlin, p 147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. FAO aquastat database. Downloaded 31 May 2018
  32. Fischer Walker CL, Ezzati M, Black RE (2009) Global and regional child mortality and burden of disease attributable to zinc deficiency. Eur J Clin Nutr 63:591–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Garduño H, Foster S, Raj P, Steenbergen F (2009) Addressing groundwater depletion through community-based management actions in the weathered granitic basement aquifer of drought-prone Andhra Pradesh—India. World bank case profile collection number 19, p 20Google Scholar
  34. Gupta AP (2005) Micronutrient status and fertilizer use scenario in India. J Trace Elem Med Biol 18:325–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gårdestedt C, Plea M, Nilsson G, Jacks B, Jacks G (2009) Zinc in soils, crops and food in the Niger Inland Delta. Ambio 38(6):334–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hossain M, Bhattacharya P, Frape SK, Jacks G, Islam MM, Rahman MM, von Brömssen M, Hasan MA, Ahmed KM (2014) Sediment colour tool for targeting arsenic-safe aquifers for the installation of shallow drinking water tubewells. Sci Tot Environ 493:615–625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hoque MA, Burgess W, Ahmed KM (2018) Integration of aquifer geology, groundwater flow and arsenic distribution in deltaic aquifers—a unifying concept. Hydrol Proc 31(11):2095–2109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jacks G (2016) Fluoride in groundwater—mobilization, trends and remediation. Chapter 15 in four decades of groundwater research in India. Thangarajan M (ed) CRC Press, UKGoogle Scholar
  39. Jacks G, Thambi DSC (2017) Groundwater memories of past climate change—examples from India and the Nordic countries. J Climate Change 3:49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kalayci M, Torun B, Eker S, Aydin M, Öztürk L, Cakmak I (1999) Grain yield, zinc efficiency and zinc concentration of wheat cultivars grown in a zinc-deficient calcareous soil in field and greenhouse. Field Crops Res 63:87–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kapil U, Jain K (2011) Magnitude of Zinc deficiency amongst under five children in India. Indian J Pediatr 78(9):1069–1072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Katyal JC, Sharma BD (1991) DTPA extractable and total Zn, Cu, Mn, and Fe in Indian soils and their association with some soil properties. Geoderma 49:165–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kippler M, Skröder H, Rahman SM, Tofail F, Vahter M (2016) Elevated childhood exposure to arsenic despite reduced drinking water concentrations—a longitudinal cohort study in rural Bangladesh. Environ Int 86:119–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kumar M, Kumari K, Ramanathan Al, Saxena R (2007) A Comparative evaluation of groundwater suitability for irrigation and drinking purposes in two intensely cultivated districts of Punjab, India. Environ Geol 53:553–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kumar M, Babel AL (2011) Available micronutrient status and their relationship with soil properties of Jhunjhunu Tehsil, district Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, India. J Agric Sci 3(2):97–106Google Scholar
  46. Kumar M, Qureshi FM (2012) Dynamics of zinc fractions, availability to wheat and residual effect on succeeding maize in Inceptosols. J Agric Sci 4(6):236–241Google Scholar
  47. Kumar M, Patel AK, Das A, Kumar P, Goswami R, Deka P, Das N (2017) Hydrogeochemical controls on mobilization of arsenic and associated health risk in Nagaon district of the central Brahmaputra Plain, India. Environ Geochem Health 39(1):161–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kurdi MS (2016) Chronic fluorosis: the disease and its anaesthetic implications. Indian J Anaesth 60(3):157–162MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lindsay WL, Norwell WA (1978) Development of a DTPA soil test for Zn, Fe, Mn, and Cu. Soil Sci Soc Amer J 42(3):421–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Long D, Chen X, Scanlon BR, Wada Y, Hong Y, Singh VP, Chen Y, Wang C, Han Z, Yang W (2016) Have GRACE satellites overestimated groundwater depletion in Northwest India Aquifer? Nat Sci Rep 6:24398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mahendra Kumar MB, Subbarayappa CT, Ramamurthy V (2017) Distribution of available (DTPA-extractable) zinc and iron and their relationship with some soil properties in rice soils of Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka, India. Int J Curr Microbiol Appl Sci 6(5):1423–1428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mehotra NK, Khanna VK, Agarwala SC (1986) Soil-sodicity induced Zinc deficiency in maize. Plant Soil 92:63–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mekonnen MM, Hoekstra AY (2011) National water footprints: the green, blue and water footprint of production and consumption. Value of water research report series no. 50, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands, p 50Google Scholar
  54. Menon KC, Skeaff SA, Thomsom CD, Gray AR, Ferguson EL, Zodpey S, Saraf A, Das PK, Toteja GS, Pandav CS (2011) Concurrent micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent in nonpregnant rural and tribal women from central India. Nutrition 27:496–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Minhas PS, Sharma OP (2003) Management of soil alkalinity and alkalinity problems in India. J Crop Prod 7:181–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mirza MR, Ahmed AU, Ahmad QK (2008) Interlinking of rivers in India: issues and concerns. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, p 320Google Scholar
  57. Mukherjee A, Kundu M, Basu B, Sinha B, Chatterjee M, Das Bairagya M, Sarkar S (2017) Arsenic load in rice ecosystem and its mitigation through deficit irrigation. J Environ Manage 197:89–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mukherjee I, Singh UK (2018) Groundwater fluoride contamination, probble release, and containment mechanisms; a review on Indian context. Environ Geochem Health.
  59. Muralidharan D, Rangarajan R, Shankar BK (2011) Vicious cycle of fluoride in semi-arid India—a health concern. Current Sci 100(5):638–640Google Scholar
  60. Naseem S, Rafique T, Bashir E, Bhanger MI, Laghari A, Usmani TN (2010) Lithological influences on occurrence of high-fluoride groundwater in Nagar Parkar area, Thar Desert, Pakistan. Chemosphere 78:1313–1321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Norrman J, Sparrenbom C, Berg M, Duc Nhan D, Quy Nhan P, Rosqvist H, Jacks G, Sigvardsson E, Baric D, Moreskog J, Harms-Ringdahl P, Van Hoan N (2008) Arsenic mobilization in a new well-field for drinking water production along the Red River, Nam Du, Hanoi. Appl Geochem 23:3127–3142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Padaria RP, Singh RP, Singh YP (2000) Big dams Dilemma. APH Publishing, New Delhi, India, p 237Google Scholar
  63. Patel PP, Patel PA, Zulf MM, Yagnik B, Kajale N, Mandlik R, Khadilkar V, Chiplonkar SA, Phanse S, Patwardhan V, Joshi P, Patel A, Khadilkar V (2017) Association of dental and skeletal Fluoros of Haryana State, with calcium intake and serum vitamin D concentration in adolescents from a region endemic for fluorosis. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 21(1): 190–195Google Scholar
  64. Patel AK, Das N, Goswami R, Kumar M (2019a) Arsenic mobility and potential co-leaching of fluoride from the sediments of three tributaries of the Upper Brahmaputra floodplain, Lakhimpur, Assam, India. J Geochem Explor 203:45–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Patel AK, Das N, Kumar M (2019b) Multilayer arsenic mobilization and multimetal co-enrichment in the alluvium (Brahmaputra) plains of India: A tale of redox domination along the depth. Chemosphere 224:140–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pathak P, Kapil U, Kapoor SK, Dwivedi SN, Singh R (2003) Magnitude of zinc deficiency among nulliparous nonpregnant women in a rural community of Haryana State, India. Food Nutr Bull 24:368–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ray KS (2016) Zinc under-nutrition in India. Vitam Miner 5(3):3–4Google Scholar
  68. Reddy TN, Raj P (1997) Hydrogeological conditions and optimum well discharges in granitic terrains in part of Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, India. J Geol Soc India 49:61–74Google Scholar
  69. Reddy PR (2015) An overview of irrigation tanks rehabilitation in semi-arid hard rock terrain. J Indian Geophys Union 19(4):481–487Google Scholar
  70. Rodell M, Velicogna I, Famiglietti JS (2009) Satellite-based estimates of groundwater depletion in India. Nature 460(20):999–1002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sandhi A, Greger M, Landberg T, Jacks G, Bhattacharya P (2017) Arsenic concentration in local aromatic rice and high yielding hybrid cultivars and the potential health risk: a study in an arsenic hot spot. Environ Monit Assess 189:184–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sarkar A (2012) Equity in access to irrigation water: a comparative analysis of tube-well irrigation system and conjunctive irrigation system. In: Manish Kumar (ed) The Intech open access book: problems, perspectives and challenges of agricultural water managementGoogle Scholar
  73. Sharma R (2000) India eradicates guinea worm disease. British Med J 320:668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Sharma BD, Mukhopadhyay SS, Katyal JC (2006) Distribution of total and DTPA-extractable zinc, copper, manganese and iron in vertisols of India. Comm Soil Sci Plant Anal 37:653–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Shortt HE, Pandit CG, Raghavachari TNS (1937) Endemic fluorosis in Nellore district of South India. The Indian Medical Gazette July 1937, 396–398Google Scholar
  76. Simard F, Nchoutpouen E, Toto JC, Fontenille D (2005) Geographic distribution and breeding site preference of Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. J Med Entomol 42(5):726–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Singh S (2002) Taming the waters. Oxford University Press, p 270Google Scholar
  78. Singh DK, Singh AK (2002) Groundwater situation in India: problems and perspectives. Int J Water Res Dev 18(4):563–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Singh N, Jacks G, Bhattacharya P (2005) Women and community supply programmes: an analysis from a socio-cultural perspective. Natural Res Forum 29(3):213–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Sinha SK, Talati J (2007) Productivity impacts of the system of rice intensification(SRI): a case study in West Bengal, India. Agric Water Manag 87:55–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. SRI (2018) System of Rice Intensification—India.
  82. Stein AJ, Nestel P, Meenakshi JV, Qaim M, Sachdev HPS, Bhutta ZA (2007) Plant breeding to control zinc deficiency in India: how cost-effective is biofortification? Public Health Nutr 10:492–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Suhag R (2016) Overview of ground water in India. PRS Legislative Res. pp 11.
  84. Suhr N, Schoenberg R, Chew D, Rosca C, Widdowson M, Kamber BS (2018) Elemental and isotopic behaviour of Zn in Deccan basalt weathering profiles. Chemical weathering from bedrock to laterite and linka to Zn deficiency in tropical soils. Sci Tot Environ 619–620:1451–1463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Susheela AK (1999) Fluorosis management programme in India. Current Sci 77(10):11Google Scholar
  86. Teotia M, Teotia SPS, Singh KP (1998) Endemic chronic fluoride toxicity and dietary calcium deficiency interaction syndromes of metabolic bone disease and deformities in India: year 2000. Ind J Pediatr 65:371–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Thakur AK, Uphoff N, Antony E (2009) An assessment of the physiological effects of system of rice intensification (SRI) practices compared with recommended rice cultivation practices in India. Experimental Agric 46(1):77–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. The Hindu (2010) India losing 5.334 millions tonnes of soil annually due to erosion.
  89. von Brömssen M, Häller Larsson S, Aziz Hassan M, Bhattacharya P, Sikder M, Jakariya M, Ahmed KM, Sracek O, Dousova B, Patriarca C, Jacks G (2008) Geochemical characterization of shallow sedimentary aquifer of Matlab Upazila, SE Bangladesh—implications for targeting low-arsenic aquifers. J Cont Hydrol 99(1–4):31–48Google Scholar
  90. Wikipedia. Irrigation in India.
  91. Winkel L, Berg M, Amini M, Hug SJ, Johnson A (2008) Predicting groundwater arsenic contamination in SE Asia from surface parameters. Nat Geosci 1:526–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Young SM, Pitawala A, Ishiga H (2011) Factors controlling fluoride contents of groundwater in North-central and northwestern Sri Lanka. Environ Earth Sci 63:1333–1342CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Water and Environmental EngineeringRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Central Ground Water Board of IndiaThiruvananthapuramIndia

Personalised recommendations