Improved Water Balance and Ecosystem Services Through Integrated Watershed Development



Agricultural water management (AWM) interventions in Kothapally watershed enhanced provisional, regulating, and supporting ecosystem services. Kothapally watershed, which was in degraded stage before 1999, is transformed into highly productive stage through science-led natural resource management interventions. A number of AWM interventions such as field bunding, low-cost gully control structures and masonry check dams, etc., were built as per hydrological assessment and need of the community. Ridge to valley approach of rainwater harvesting addressed equity issue as farmers from upstream end benefited along with downstream users. A number of AWM interventions reduced surface runoff (30–60%) and soil loss (two- to fivefolds) and enhanced groundwater recharge (50–150%) and base flow. Water table increased from 2.5 to 6.0 m on an average after the AWM interventions. This change has translated into surplus irrigation water availability and crop intensification especially during post monsoonal season. Further, all such changes translated into better crop yield, higher cropping intensity, and higher crop production and net income over the years that resulted into building the resilience of the individuals and community to cope with droughts and impacts of climate change. This case study clearly indicates that large untapped potential exists in dryland areas which could be harnessed through science-led NRM interventions. Scaling up approach of these interventions through pilots at various locations in India, Thailand, Vietnam, and China demonstrated the potential for overcoming food and water scarcity sustainably and at the same time contributing to meet the sustainable development goals of zero hunger, water availability, and climate actions.


Water balance Groundwater recharge Hydrologcial model SWAT Building system resilience 


  1. Anantha, K. H., & Wani, S. P. (2016). Evaluation of cropping activities in the Adarsha watershed project, southern India. Food Security, 8(5), 885–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett, J. H., Parslow, R. C., McKinney, P. A., Law, G. R., & Forman, D. (1998). Nitrate in drinking water and the incidence of gastric, esophageal, and brain cancer in Yorkshire, England. Cancer Causes & Control, 9, 153–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dewandel, B., Perrin, J., Ahmed, S., Aulong, S., Hrkal, Z., Lachassagne, P., Samad, M., & Massuel, S. (2010). Development of a tool for managing groundwater resources in semiarid hard rock regions: Application to a rural watershed in South India. Hydrological Processes, 24, 2784–2797.Google Scholar
  4. Fan, A. M., & Steinberg, V. E. (1996). Health implications of nitrate and nitrite in drinking water: An update on methemoglobinemia occurrence and reproductive and developmental toxicity. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 23, 35–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fewtrell, L. (2004). Drinking-water nitrate, methemoglobinemia, and global burden of disease: A discussion. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, 1371–1374. Scholar
  6. Garg, K. K., & Wani, S. P. (2013). Opportunities to build groundwater resilience in the semi-arid tropics. Groundwater, 51(5), 679–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Garg, K. K., Karlberg, L., Barron, J., Wani, S. P., & Rockstrom, J. (2012). Assessing impacts of agricultural water interventions in the Kothapally watershed, Southern India. Hydrological Processes, 26(3), 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Karlberg, L., Garg, K. K., Barron, J., & Wani, S. P. (2015). Impacts of agricultural water interventions on farm income: An example from the Kothapally watershed, India. Agricultural Systems, 136, 30–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Rao, N. S. (2006). Nitrate pollution and its distribution in the groundwater of Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environmental Geology, 51, 631–645. Scholar
  10. Sadeq, M., Moe, C. L., Attarassi, B., Cherkaoui, I., ElAouad, R., & Idrissi, L. (2008). Drinking water nitrate and prevalence of methemoglobinemia among infants and children aged 1–7 years in Moroccan areas. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 211, 546–554. Scholar
  11. Sandor, J., Kiss, I., Farkas, O., & Ember, I. (2001). Association between gastric cancer mortality and nitrate content of drinking water: Ecological study on small area inequalities. European Journal of Epidemiology, 17, 443–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Shah, T. (2009). Climate change and groundwater: India’s opportunities for mitigation and adaptation. Environmental Resources Letters, 4, 035005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Singh, R., Garg, K. K., Wani, S. P., Tewari, R. K., & Dhyani, S. K. (2014). Impact of water management interventions on hydrology and ecosystem services in Garhkundar-Dabar watershed of Bundelkhand region, Central India. Journal of Hydrology, 509, 132–149.Google Scholar
  14. Sreedevi, T. K., Shiferaw, B., & Wani, S. P. (2004). Adarsha watershed in Kothapally, understanding the drivers of higher impact. In Global theme on agroecosystems report no. 10. Andhra Pradesh, India: International Crops Research Institute for the SemiArid Tropics.Google Scholar
  15. Van Loon, A. J. M., Botterweck, A. A. M., Goldbohm, R. A., Brants, H. A. M., van Klaveren, J. D., & van den Brandt, P. A. (1998). Intake of nitrate and nitrite and the risk of gastric cancer: A prospective cohort study. British Journal of Cancer, 78, 129–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICRISAT Development Centre, Research Program AsiaInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)HyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Former Director, Research Program Asia and ICRISAT Development CentreInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)HyderabadIndia

Personalised recommendations