Groundwater table plummeting alarmingly

With no significant rainfall after November and the dependence on groundwater increasing, water table in parts of the city has fallen to levels lower than those of last year.The fall may or may not hold good to other parts of the city considering the geological factors that go into groundwater availability.“The bore well in our apartment has gone dry since April. Every four to five days we are getting a tanker of water by paying ₹ 250,” says Paidiraju, who works in an office in the commercial hub of Dwarakanagar. Of the four piezometers that have been set up by the Groundwater Department in parts of the city, three show considerable fall indicating high exploitation.At Pendurthi and Anandapuram too the water table fell by - 2.54 m and - 6.263 meters compared to May 2016. The three piezometers at VUDA City Central Park, Sivajipalem and Gopalapatnam show water table much below the district average of 8.77 meters. Only the one at Tatichetlapalem has a comfortable level and much below the district average.“Visakhapatnam is a hard rock terrain with fractures and groundwater availability is not homogenous and may vary from area to area. Within 100 meters the depth of availability may change. But the fluctuation gives an indication of the high variation and more exploitation,” says Deputy Director of Groundwater Department K.S. Sastry.Deficit rainfallThe recharge as per the statistics available between May 2016 and November 2016 too was not much. If levels were higher after the rainy season, even after use of more groundwater the levels would have been encouraging.“One of the main reasons, besides higher exploitation, is the lack of significant rainfall after November,” says Mr. Sastry.Against the normal rainfall of 1174.3 mm, the actual received was 1039.9 mm, giving a deficit of 11.7 %. However, the rainfall was for the entire district and generally the rural and Agency areas receive good rain. Mr. Sastry recalled the situation in 2003 when after three successive years of drought the average water table fell to 10.85 meters. The situation recurred in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12. “This season the average water table is expected to end up between 9 meters and 9.2 meters. But another weak monsoon may result in deterioration,” he warns. The Visakhapatnam district average of 8.77 m is much less than the State average of 14.71 m, he added.As of now the average rainfall is one of the lowest in the State. The district is much better placed than the drought-prone Anantapur with 530 mm average rainfall and a whopping 40 per cent deficit.Groundwater can be used to meet the needs but recharge efforts are lacking. If the deficit rain conditions repeat and recharge efforts are not toned up the levels may fall further, Mr. Sastry cautions stating the conservation measures initiated under “Neeru-Meeru” by the State government in 2000 that paid dividends later.