Policy Dialogue on Groundwater Security in Kathmandu Valley
(The Everest Hotel, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, Nepal)
Jointly Organized by
Water Security in Peri-urban South Asia Project
Nepal Engineering College- Center for Postgraduate Studies
Jalshrot Vikas Sanstha (JVS), Nepal/Global Water Partnership-Nepal
Date: 20th March 2012
Groundwater in Kathmandu Valley is closely related to livelihood and wellbeing of the people. The dependence of the people on groundwater has increased in the recent years to meet the ever increasing domestic, commercial and industrial water needs. At present, nearly half of the water demand in Kathmandu Valley is estimated to be met from extraction of groundwater. Increasing scarcity of water has also encouraged commercial use of groundwater that has led to water markets of different forms to evolve in Kathmandu Valley. Increasing extraction of groundwater and continually shrinking groundwater recharge zones have stressed the aquifer systems in the valley. The rates of depletion in groundwater in many parts of the valley have increased to the extent of undermining the water security of the people. Regulated use of groundwater has drawn attention of Government of Nepal (GoN), water sector agencies and water professionals; however there has been lack of conceptual clarity and ambiguity relating to regulated groundwater use and institutional arrangements for regulation. It is in this context that Nepal Engineering College (nec) and Jalshrot Vikas Sanstha (JVS) considered that an intellectual discourse on regulated use of groundwater is timely and important.
This policy dialogue on Groundwater Security in Kathmandu Valley brought together policy personnel and water professionals from relevant government and development organizations, academicians, researchers and students, to discuss the emerging issues facing the groundwater security and regulated groundwater use in Kathmandu Valley. The goal of the workshop is to identify the issues on groundwater and emerging water security concerns in Kathmandu.
The workshop was scheduled to include two sessions. The first half included the presentations on state of groundwater use and commercialization of groundwater by the researchers involved in Peri-urban Water Security Project underway at Nepal Engineering College (nec), Nepal Development Research Institute (NDRI) and Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVWSMB). The second half was facilitated discussion on the regulated groundwater use in Kathmandu.
Session Chair: Dr. Hari Krishna Shrestha, Principal, Nepal Engineering College
· State of Groundwater Use and Groundwater Security Issues in Peri-urban areas of Kathmandu valley- Mr. Rajesh Sada, Research Coordinator, Peri-urban Water Security Project, nec-CPS
· Evolution of Groundwater Market in Kathmandu Valley- Prof. Ashutosh Shukla, Project Leader, Peri-urban Water Security Project, nec-CPS
· State and Services of Tanker Water Operators in Kathmandu Valley- Mr. Dibesh Shrestha, NDRI
· Regulated Groundwater Use in Kathmandu Valley: Perspectives of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board – Mr. Hari Dhakal, Chairperson- KVWSMB
· Chairpersons Remarks (Synthesis and Issues for Discussion)
Moderator: Dr. Dibya Ratna Kansakar, Visiting Professor, nec-CPS
· Facilitated Discussion on Regulated Groundwater Use in Kathmandu
In his welcome speech, he presented the objectives of the program in the context of growing rampant ground water extraction in Kathmandu valley and the relevance of policy dialogue on regulated ground water use including the discussions on effectiveness and weaknesses of existing ground water regulations and perpetuating the feedbacks to the relevant water sector agencies and water professionals contributing to finalizing National ground water policy.
With a concise note on the academic research from the Master's students at nec, he stressed their significance in better understanding of the ground water issues in Kathmandu valley and mentioned the first session to revolve around these studies on the state of ground water use and ground water security issues in Kathmandu as a foundation to initiate the policy dialogue.
Speech on the Genesis of the Policy Dialogue Workshop
ession – I
Presentation 1: Groundwater Security Concerns in Peri-urban context of Kathmandu Valley
Presentation 2: State of Private Water Tanker Operation in Kathmandu
Mr. Dibesh Shrestha, Master's graduate on Interdisciplinary Water Resource Management at nec currently working at NDRI presented his findings on State and Services of Tanker Water Operators in Kathmandu Valley. His presentations emphasized on the growing gaps in water service provided by the water utility and the evolving water market in form of private tanker water entrepreneurs. He also elaborated the basic characteristics of water tankers operating in the valley and their water extraction mechanisms which are in majority of cases from ground water through dug well, shallow boring and deep boring. His findings showed the water service provided from the private tankers operators cover a significant proportion of water demand in Kathmandu valley supplying 12.58 MLD in dry season and 6.36 MLD during wet and winter season which has been consistently increasing over the years. He also shed light on the quality of ground water transported by the private tanker operators failing to meet the national drinking water quality standards with mostly iron and ammonia exceeding the permissible levels.
Presentation 3: Evolution of Groundwater Market in Kathmandu Valley: Analysis of Actors, Market and Regulations
Prof. Ashutosh Kumar Shukla on behalf of Ms. Shreya Bajimaya, Master's graduate on Interdisciplinary Water Resources Management at nec presented the study on evolution of ground water market in Kathmandu valley. The study elaborated on the increasing
dependency on ground
water and the existing situation of demand supply gaps creating a niche for
water entrepreneurs to invest in commercial ground water extraction. The ground
water market has been progressively expanding in various forms ranging from small
scale vendors to community scale and commercial scale. The key concern raised
by the study was the need of distinguishing different forms and scales of
ground water extraction and reconsidering the ground water policy based on the
objectives of ground water extraction. The study also highlighted on the current
poor institutional coordination and weak execution of the regulatory mechanisms
and emphasized on the need of clarity on roles and responsibilities of
different responsible institutions and also the rules and regulations related
to ground water management.
Session chair, Dr. Shrestha appreciated and thanked to all the paper presenters for bringing out the ground reality of ground water related issues occurring in Kathmandu valley. Dr. Shrestha then announced a break for high tea considering the request of distinguished guests and delegates.
Presentation 4: Problems and Challenges in Ground Water Management in Kathmandu Valley
He then talked about the highly expected Melamchi Water Supply Project (First Inter-basin Water Transfer project in Nepal) which is expected to bring 510 MLD of water to Kathmandu valley from Indrawati sub-basin in three phases, each of 170 MLD among which first phase will be completed by 2015 A.D.
He shared the growing dependency on ground water either of KUKL or the private water service providers and therefore the serious need of monitoring ground water to ensure the sustainability of ground water security in Kathmandu valley. In this aspect, he elaborated the activities being undertaken by the KVWSMB to regulate ground water extraction within sustainable limit. The extraction of ground water started by private sector in 1975 and was only 1 MLD which then also started by Nepal Water Supply Corporation and raised to 6.84 MLD in 1980 and 45.5 MLD in 1989. It started accelerating after 1990s currently being 81.6 MLD (31.6 MLD by KUKL and 50 MLD by private sector).
KVWSMB has initiated the activities towards regulated ground water extraction through licensing mechanism and 258 (78 existing and 15 proposed of KUKL and 165 private) ground water users have been come under this mechanism. Additionally 120 private tube wells are in the process of obtaining license and 440 new tube wells are further expected to come up for obtaining license. KVWSMB is preparing ground water inventory which was started in January 2012 and expected to complete by July 2012. Since 2006, it has been monitoring ground water extractors at 41 deep tube wells of KUKL on a monthly basis. Among the 41 monitored deep tube wells, 15 showed declining water tables. The depletion being as high as 17 m in northern, 75.2 m in central and 8.42 m in the southern ground water districts. He also stressed the rapid population increase in the potential recharge zones further add threat to the ground water security. Sharing the short term and long term vision of KWSMB, he showed the commitment to maintain sustainable use of ground water by controlling abstraction, promoting ground water recharge and conservation of potential ground water recharge zones and further involving the monitoring of both quality and quantity of ground water.
Dr. Shrestha thanked Mr. Dhakal for sharing the ongoing activities and efforts towards regulated ground water extraction and raised his query towards the possibility of public accessibility towards the records of monitored ground water level which Mr. Dhakal informed to have the provision for dissemination and expected to be more concrete after the ongoing ground water inventory.
Facilitated Discussion on Regulated Groundwater Use in Kathmandu
The major points emerged during the discussions are stated hereunder:
Dr. Khem Sharma, Director, nec- CPS drew attention on the contradiction between the depleting water table and idea of adding new water extraction points in Kathmandu valley to meet the escalating water demand. Similarly his other query was regarding the procedure of policy formulation.
Adding to Dr. Sharma, Dr. Surya Nath Upadyaya, Secretary General, JVS, questioned on the liability of government to ensure fundamental right to water and equity to water service including the accountability of KVWSMB, Government of Nepal (GoN) and KUKL to improve the water supply within valley. He also pointed out the need of resolving existing contestation and delineating the ownership of the water resource and regulating responsibilities among different institutions. He doubted the applicability of licensing as a tool to regulate ground water extraction and need to consider water security as different social scales. He considered the need of exploring innovative water management mechanism specifically for Kathmandu valley and execution and implementation of existing laws and policies in co-ordinated form. He recommended intervening in controlling unplanned land plotting to control water demand and emphasized on improving supply from the authorized water service providers which would ultimately contribute to control ground water abstraction.
Mr. Sanjaya Dhungel, Senior Divisional Engineer at Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS) emphasized the significance of water quality on the public health and stressed on the need of strict monitoring the water quality from both KUKL and private water supply and improving the water supply service to control the unregulated ground water extraction.
Mr. Pratap Singh Tater from Ground Water Supply Management Board, suggested the researchers to extend the study for establishing database on the existing water source which could be extremely useful for KVWSMB.
Mr. Ishwor Raj Onta, Chairperson, JVS emphasized the need of land sustainability for sustainable ground water management and suggested to revisit the expanding land transformation to achieve sustainable ground water management. He also emphasized on the need of designing multi-purpose small cascades and reservoirs for storing minimum water available and avoid wastage of water during monsoons. Further added was the need of involvement of the academic sectors such as Nepal Engineering College in these key areas.
Giving example of Japan of compulsory need of incorporating rain water harvesting for approval of house construction, Dr. Shrestha, Principal, nec stressed on the poor implementation status of such strategies in the context of Nepal.
Congratulating the young researchers for taking up research in key issues, Dr. Dibya Ratna Kansakar, visiting professor at nec-CPS discussed on growing water demand due to the rapid urbanization in Kathmandu and failure of the water service provider to complete the Melamchi project within the projected time. In addition, he also brought forward the government activities of promoting multi-storied buildings and the residential complexes concentrating large population within a small area further increasing pressure on ground water. With the rate of increase in water demand in Kathmandu valley he doubted the most expected Melamchi Project to meet the growing water demand thus agreed to the growing dependency on ground water likely to increase and also expressed doubt regarding sufficiency of licensing practice in regulating ground water abstraction.
He also raised point on the need to recognize and regulate private water entrepreneurs but the problems and challenges within the issues are to incorporate the sustainability of ground water as well as maintaining equitable access to the basis of livelihood. He raised the issue on the liability of Government in providing water service to its citizens and the accountability of whole institutional set-up arranging for reliable water service. Bringing the point of economic diversity within Kathmandu valley, he directed the mass to brainstorming the possible burden to the consumers with the rise in price of water as a result of ground water regulatory exercise. He argued that the ground water abstraction could not be called illegal rather there has to be clear demarcation between water requirement and water demand and emphasized ground water regulation should adequately address the regulation of service, price and the right to water.
Mr. Jeevan Lal Shrestha, freelancer supported licensing as a regulatory tool being initiated by KVWSMB but pointed out the essence of co-ordination with the drillers (deep borers) in identifying and updating the current database on ground water extraction as the preliminary phase of ground water inventory. He also drew attention towards the need of exploring innovative regulatory mechanism for Kathmandu so as to avoid stress to the range of consumers such as levying the tax based on the objective of ground water extraction.
Mr. Sagar Rai, Chief Hydrologist, Department of Irrigation shared the case of ground water recharge arrangement in Hongkong and pointed out the immediate need of building internal capacity within KVWSMB and co-ordinating with other institutions for the technical strengthening.
Mr. Pramod Raj Sharma, Executive Director, Ground Water Resources Development Board (GWRDB) clarified that the responsibility of monitoring and regulating ground water in the country has been on GWRDB based on the directive of the Supreme Court and considering this, GWRDB have even drafted ground water regulation through stakeholders’ dialogues and peer group discussions. He admitted the weaknesses in the existing legislation on water and shared the current status of having the draft mobilized for approval and enactment through Nepal Kanun Aayog.
Appreciating the discussions on ground water use and ground water regulations, Mr. Hari Dhakal explained KVWSMB has been considering Pre-Melamchi and Post –Melamchi conditions of water demand and supply and been working accordingly. He explained delay in Melamchi Project as the major cause of increasing water scarcity and evolution of ground water market within Kathmandu valley. He added that as per the research undertaken by the KVWSMB team, despite decline in the ground water level, the ground water abstraction can still sustain to meet the water demand prior to Melamchi Project (till 2015) and practiced licensing program may not be self- sufficient tool to regulate ground water extraction but giving example of Thailand added this could be an effective initiation. He also emphasized on the need of strict monitoring of the license and implementing measure to keep the price under control so as to maintain equitable water service to wide range of consumers and clarified on the regulatory approach focusing on managing the ground water use. He gave his explanation on the process of framing ground water regulation as the attempt to reduce the information gap on the socially concerned issue of existing ground water extraction and will be reconsidered during finalizing the process. He also pointed out the past consensus in affordability of water supply from Melamchi project has been changed through the expanding water market and thus with strict monitoring and the controlled pricing mechanism execution of ground water regulation can be possible. However, he admitted on the need of consulting the experts on the legal issue to finalize the ground water regulations.
He explained that within Kathmandu valley, KVWSMB holds the responsibility to monitor management of water service and thus in the process of ground water resource inventory has incorporated both the concerns on the quality and volume of water extracted which is expected to complete within coming two years. Apart from the efforts to regulate abstraction, he also informed about the “Recharge Kathmandu Campaign” promoting ground water recharge at different levels such as Mahadev Khola Dam in Bhaktapur for dual purpose of facilitating KUKL for water storage and ground water recharge. He also emphasized on the need of conserving the potential recharge zones through watershed conservation program and managing road runoff for ground water recharge.
Mr. Dhakal shared his commitment to work in co-ordination with different institutions working towards the same direction and execute the institutional responsibilities of improving the water service to the citizens whether through KUKL or any other organization legally authorized to provide the water service. He appreciated the policy dialogue as a platform to disseminate the ongoing activities and collect feed backs on the activities towards ground water regulation within the valley.
The program ended with the thanking notes from each of the presenters and organizing committee.
Major points emerged from the discussions:
1. The increasing gap in water demand and supply from the authorized water service provider forced to look for alternative reliable water source accelerating the rate of ground water abstraction within a short period of time.
2. Apart from commercial level, ground water extraction also occurs at household, community and institutional level.
3. Commercial ground water abstraction has been expanding in diverse forms, scales and with different motives and therefore should not be completely discouraged.
4. KVWSMB has been currently working in establishing database on Ground Water Inventory in Kathmandu valley and has initiated the regulatory exercise through licensing mechanism.
5. Regulatory activities need be clearly defined in terms of right to water service and controlled pricing to maintain the equitable water service to wide range of consumers.
6. Regulatory activities should be in co-ordination with other relevant and responsible organizations to control rapid land transformation like sand mining and land plotting thereafter and rapid urbanization or concretization in potential recharge zones in order to promote ground water recharge.