Reviving the "ganges Water Machine": Where and how much?

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Abstract

Surface runoff generated in the monsoon months in the upstream parts of the Ganges River Basin contributes substantially to downstream floods, while water shortages in the dry months affect agricultural production in the basin. This paper examines the parts (sub-basins) of the Ganges that have the potential for augmenting subsurface storage (SSS), increase the availability of water for agriculture and other uses, and mitigate the floods in the downstream areas. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is used to estimate sub-basin-wise water availability. The water availability estimated is then compared with the sub-basin-wise un-met water demand for agriculture. Hydrological analyses revealed that five sub-basins produced more than 10 billion cubic meters (B m<sup>3</sup>) of annual surface runoff consistently during the simulation period. In these sub-basins, less than 50 % of the annual surface runoff is sufficient to irrigate all irrigable land in both the \textit{Rabi} (November to March) and summer (April to May) seasons. Further, for most of the sub-basins, there is sufficient water to meet the un-met water demand, provided that it is possible to capture the surface runoff during the wet season. It is estimated that the average flow to Bihar State from the upstream of the Ganges, a downstream basin location, is 277 ± 121 B m<sup>3</sup>, which is more than double the rainfall in the state alone. Strong relationships between outflows from the upstream sub-basins and the inflows to Bihar State suggested that flood inundation in the state could be reduced by capturing a portion of the upstream flows during the peak runoff periods.

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Muthuwatta, L., Amarasinghe, U. A., Sood, A., & Surinaidu, L. (2017). Reviving the “ganges Water Machine”: Where and how much? Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 21(5), 2545–2557. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-2545-2017

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