Abstract: India is classified as water-stressed nation, despite the abundance of its water resources. The need of the hour hence is to focus on approaches to deal with modern water-centric issues by leveraging tools of science, technology and management. This talk discusses two major approaches being researched at length: 1. Strategic use of modern water systems and, 2. Modernised water-use strategies, to deal with water-centric issues currently plaguing us. In this context, it is important to study the uses and impacts of modern water systems ranging from artificial lakes to dams and inter-linked basins as additional resources for storage and sustained release of water. Next, conjunctive water use models based on regional and local-scale agro-meteorological data will be explored. Similarly, extensive studies of Bengaluru lakes, which have highlighted the scope for blue-green infrastructure, will be discussed. The linking of riverine basins proves the importance of such projects to increase net water availability, calling for a quick review. However, global experiences have highlighted both positive and negative impacts of such infrastructure projects. Further, in the present era, when “water-banking” seems to be crucial for enhancing the net water availability, the net ecological impacts need a broader discussion. Apparently, there is no general consensus at present on whether ‘capacity building’ on Jal Shakti should emphasise first on improving water infrastructure for storage or on establishing frameworks for conjunctive management. A progressive methodology would be to strengthen water reuse and recirculation strategies as well as reservoir management for building our water banks. The perspectives of environmental risk and impact assessments for water-centric projects should also be synchronised with planning to deliver favourable end results. Another important perspective would be to explore the ways towards effective water-cognition in our society at individual and enterprise levels, in which scientific research has a greater role to play.
About the speaker: Dr. Harini Santhanam an environmental scientist studying multi-disciplinary aspects of water systems such as biogeochemistry and land-water-human nexus from an ecosystem perspective. She has a Ph.D. in lacustrine ecosystem modelling and was the Principal Investigator of a DST-funded Woman Scientists project (2015- 2018) at IISc Bangalore. Her research interests include the use of integrated modelling approaches for aquatic ecosystem investigations, studying the ecosystem-human nexus over the land-water-air continuum and investigating short-term and long-term changes of lacustrine systems using environmental proxies.