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Watershed Resources Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 3696 words Published: 1st Jun 2020

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Introduction / Background

Can we imagine life without water? Water is a very precious and limited vital natural resource. The demand of water for development of agricultural, industrial, urban use and power generation is increasing at very fast rate. Wise use of these resources should really be the concern of all people, whether they are involved in agricultural production activities or not. By accepting it, we can manage to conserve soil and water effectively, then there will be measurable effect on the development of country.

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Watershed resources play a significant role in the development of a country depending on the location of a watershed; we can get water for domestic, agriculture and industrial uses. It is for this purpose, proper evolution and management of water resources acquires significant importance. Detailed survey work is carried out to find points of equal elevation, ridges and valleys. The reduced levels obtained from this survey were plotted to obtain contour plan. Three main valleys, which yield the water, were obtained from contour map.

The water from these valleys in rainy season is not conserved and gets wasted, and adverse effects are seen such as soil erosion and gully formation. Conversely, if we save and utilize this water there will be proper soil conservation and recharging ground water table will be possible. According to the slopes found on contour plan, various soil and water are constructed in our watershed area. Due to several conservations schemes the water, which have been wanted will get conserved and will give benefit to residents of the area.

Water is a limited natural vital resource, which is indispensable for the existence of all-living matter, plant, animal and man. Potable water, which was once thought to be an infinite natural resource, it would not last longer and become as dearer as are fossil fuels today. Today water covers 7/10th part of the globe surface, fills its atmosphere and lies unfathomed, beneath the crust of the world. Only less than 1% of it is fit and available for use and consumption by mankind. There are serious apprehensions that greater part of earth may go without water in the coming decades. Water tables in several Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have already gone significantly low.

The further projections are that by 2025 grater part of India may go without water unless suitable new resources are tapped and available water is conserved. Total water in the world estimated to be 1.5 billion cu.Km. about 95% of this is in the salty seas, of the remaining 5% fresh water, 60M.cu.Km are immobilized as continuously frozen polar ice and snow, leaving only 1.5M.cu.Km.

As fresh liquid water for plants, animals and man. of the 15 M.cu.Km.of fresh water, of which about 1% is surface water and 99% is stored at varying depths. About half of the ground water is stored at depths greater than 1000m. Therefore for all practical purposes 7M.cu.Km.of fresh water is at reasonable depths plus the 150000cu.Km.of surfaces water is the worlds, usable water where, at any, only 15000 cu.Km.of fresh liquid water exists in lakes and streams of the world. Each year 380000 cu.Km. Of fresh water falls on land oceans, and the same amount is evaporated from the oceans and lands.

On an average country like India receives about 120cm of precipitation per year, mostly as rainfall. On the volume basis is 400 M.Ha.m. The fate of precipitation is estimated as, evaporation 18%; surface runoff 29% and soil infiltration 53%. Nothing can be done to reduce this 18% loss by evaporation. However, wise management can reduce 29% of surface runoff. This can be various water conservation techniques. The wisest management of water is to encourage every drop of rainfall to move into the soil at the point where it strikes the earth.

When this happens, evaporation will be at a minimum, there will no erosion and crop production will be at a maximum. Watershed management or protection implies the proper use of all land water resources of a watershed for optimum production with minimum hazard to natural resources. Proper planning is therefore absolutely so as to obtain as many benefits as possible with minimum expenditure. Planning for water resources development in its wider sense may broadly be defined as through study of pros and cons of various possible ways of harnessing this wonderful natural resource and finally bring down the means and ways of achieving the best and optimum benefits.

The concept of watershed is basic to all hydrologic designs. Since big watersheds are made of many smaller watersheds, it is necessary to define the watershed in terms of a point. This point is usually the location at which the design is being made and is referred to as the watershed outlet. With respect to the outlet, the watershed consists of all land area that sheds water to the outlet during a rainfall. Using the concept that water runs downhill watershed is defined by all points enclosed within an area from which rain falling at these points will contribute water to the outlet.

Watershed development has been proved as an attractive approach to rural development over recent decades. All the Projects and programmes have been put into practice across America, Africa and South Asia, but it is perhaps in India where the approach has been most popular and permanent. Here, central government investment has been running at over US$ 500 million a year. This paper considers watershed development in rural areas where water supplies for domestic use. Several new studies and papers have mentioned the current use of watershed development efforts.

When we see some country like India, which are implemented by government, have been widely criticised for a lack of impact. (Rhoades, 1998; Malla Reddy, 2000). Weaknesses in participation, and inflexibility in choice of technology have been blamed in many cases and guidelines for watershed development have been improved. Where watershed development projects have achieved significant impacts, it is often the landed (and not the poor) who have benefited. Positive impacts of projects in dry land India include improved agricultural production, and development of local-level institutions (Batchelor et al. 2000).

In India large irrigation canals are were built in the nineteenth as well as twentieth centuries and large number of multipurpose water resources projects were built in the last century. These projects were either entirely funded or heavily subsidized by national government in recognition of the crucial role of that water plays in national development. Approximately 170 million hectares in India are classified as degraded land, the majority falling in undulating semiarid Areas where rain fed framings is practised (Farrington and Lobo, 1997).

These areas are characterised by deforestation, loss of biomass, high rates of erosion and lack of fertile soils which results in low productivity of land and poverty. Seasonal or permanent migration tends to be high in these areas. Migration increases the seriousness of problems related to urbanisation, such as unemployment, poor health and housing problems.

Therefore, arresting environmental degradation and increases in land productivity are both necessary aims of rural development programmes in south Asia. The Government of India is giving particular attention to environmental regeneration of catchment areas. Approximately US$ 300 million per year are disbursed by the Government of India on interventions that are aimed at improving all categories of land in watersheds (Farrington and Lobo, 1997).

Apart from the Government of India, various state governments, national and international organisations are funding watershed development projects. World population has increased nearly threefold in the last 50 years. The standard of living has gone up. In India nearly 70% of the population still depends up on the agriculture which is the biggest user of water. There is considerable uncertainty as to the climate change and its manifestation.

In developing countries both non-government organisations and government development agencies have implemented watershed management projects for last 25 years with the aim of increasing agricultural productivity and reducing poverty on hillsides in rural areas. Many of the watershed management projects throughout the world have not taken into account land use capacity and its restoration and prevention potential. They have centred on activities that although important at the plot level do not add up to transformations at the landscape level.

A major question is, therefore, how to select watershed management sites and activities in such a way that organisations can simultaneously address the social and economic goals for local inhabitants as well as the aims of watershed conservation and restoration. This paper summarises observations derived from earlier assessments of watershed management projects, including short-term reviews of watershed management projects in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Thailand and Uganda carried out by Perez between 1989 and 1999. In all these case, they visited field sites, interviewed project personnel and participant farmers and reviewed project documents and other technical literature. They have also taken into account evidence from the international literature on watershed management.


The main aim of this research study is:

To investigate the demand of water for development of domestic use and agriculture use and

To examine how to manage existing water resources.


The objectives of this study are:

To control damaging excess.

To manage and utilize excess for useful purposes.

To control erosion and effect reduction in the sediment production.

To have moderate floods in the downstream areas.

To enhance ground water storage.

Appropriate use of the land resources on the watershed and thus developing Forest and Food


The research will look at the current development of various natural resources, particularly land and water, the watersheds or hydraulics units are considered more efficient for carrying out necessary surveys and investigations for assessment of these resources as well as for subsequent planning and implementation of development programs. The watershed approach is more rational because the inherent potential of soil and water resources in a particular area is governed by various factors, most important of which are physiographic, geological base, soil characteristic’s, climate, present land use, socio economical and legal aspects and other relevant factors.

It has been observed that there is optimum interaction between the natural factors of physiographic, soil and climate on watershed bases for their optimum utilization and output. The watershed approach is, therefore, increasingly being employed in various development programmes like soil conservation, command area development, deficiency level area programmes, shifting cultivation, recovery or very hungry areas, erosion control in catchments of river valley projects etc. the watershed also important with respect to the development of water resources in the shape of major, medium and minor irrigation projects.

The programmes for water harvesting on form level have been developed on watershed bases. After all the feasible sites for exploitation of the surface water are explored, the only alternative left to cope with the droughts is to make the use of ground water resources. As ground water also depends on the rainfall received, there is need to harvest and use this resources sufficiently with the help of watershed management.

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For planning a particular watershed, the planner must have a basic objective or multiple objectives and keeping this in mind should then proceed with the formulation and evolution of the various alternatives. The objectives of watershed management programme are to control damaging runoff, to manage and utilize runoff for useful purposes, to control erosion and effect reduction in the sediment production, to have moderate floods in the downstream areas, to enhance ground water storage. Appropriate use of the land resources on the watershed and thus developing forest and fodder resources.

These objectives can be achieved by bringing about improvement in physical condition of soil through proper managing and cropping with a view to increase water infiltration and holding capacity. Ensuring good crop growth by adopting the recommended agronomic practices for each crop.

Practicing other conservation measures like contour Bunding, terracing, contour trenching, contour cultivation, strip cropping, mulching, reclamation of gullies etc. adoption of conservation farming practices to improve agriculture, controlled grazing to keep the pastures productive , water management for irrigation and drainage and all other types of erosion control measures could be considered as the parts of watershed management.


A wide variety of methods were used for data collection. These include Best Interviews, Participant observation, Semi-structured focus group interviews, Questionnaire and Case study method. A flexible approach was used for deciding methodologies. In the initial stages of data collection best interviews and group interviews were conducted with experienced watershed committee members, farmers, government officers and non-government organisation representatives.

It takes considerable courage to openly accept and discuss the argument one is facing. Therefore in focus groups and best interviews importance was given to active listening, creating a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, building trust and acknowledging the experiences of the narrator without criticism or judgement.

To make it easier for participants to discuss their argument and to build relationship, previous argument and their management were discussed to help feel safe through the distance that time gives. After understanding was built people felt more comfortable discussing their present arguments. The other technique of creating distance was through asking similar questions in the context of other watersheds. For this reason, the author of this report explains what a research study is and how it is carried out in this chapter.

Definition of research

The word research has been defined and explained in so many different ways, but more importantly; all the various definitions seek to point out in one particular direction. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines Research as A search or investigation undertaken to discover facts and reach new conclusions by the critical study of a subject or by a course of scientific enquiry.

Research was defined by Hitchock and Hughes (1993), as the systematic enquiry that is characterized by a certain amount of rigor and governed by set principles and guidelines for procedures. For instance, social research, therefore, refers to both the collection and analysis of information on the social world in order thereby to understand and explain it better.

According to Naoum (1998), there are two types of research strategies, namely ‘Quantitative research’ and ‘Qualitative research’. The choice of the type to use depends on the purpose of the study and the type and availability of the information which is required.

Qualitative Research

This type of research emphasizes meanings, experiences, description and so on. The information obtained after carrying out a qualitative research can be categorized into two classes of research. These classes are ‘exploratory’ and ‘attitudinal’.

Quantitative Research

It is defined as an enquiry into a social or human problem, based on testing a hypothesis or a theory composed of variables, measured with numbers, and analyzed with statistical procedures, in order to determine whether the hypothesis or the theory hold true. Quantitative data is, therefore, not abstract, they are hard and reliable; they are measured of tangible, countable sensate features of the world. Quantitative research, therefore, is said to be ‘objective’ in nature.

Exploratory research

This type of research is used when there is limited amount of knowledge about the topic under consideration. The purpose of exploratory research is intertwined with the need for a clear and precise statement of the recognised problem. The raw data provided in exploratory research will be exactly what people have said (in interview or recorded conversation) or a description of what has been observed.

Attitudinal research

This type of Qualitative research is used to ‘subjectively’ evaluate the ‘opinion’, ‘view’ or ‘perception’ of a person, towards a particular object. Qualitative research, therefore, is said to be ‘subjective’ in nature.

Postal Questionnaire

This technique of data collection is maybe the most commonly used. It is very suitable for surveys with clearly defined objectives and normally asks questions that need specific response, like ‘write’ or ‘wrong’. The main advantages of postal questionnaires are Economy, Speed and Consultation.

Personal interview

This is yet another technique of collecting data or information from respondents by a face-to-face interactions. With this technique, answers to questions are received instantly.

For the purpose of this work, the author in a bid to collect data for the research analyses, the personal interview technique will be adopted. Personal interviews will be conducted and with a number of selected watershed companies. The feedback received from respondents of the companies selected will then be analysed and conclusions drawn from them. From the conclusion drawn, suitable recommendations will then be made.

This research method will be used due to the fact that unlike the research questionnaire, the respondent is known and there is a close interaction between interviewer and respondent. Even though it takes a longer time to go through the interview and the cost is high, the sample size is smaller and the quality of information received is deep and detailed.

This is because the interviewer has the chance to probe and the flexibility to reword question and clarify terms that are not clear. Moreover, with this technique, answers to questions are received instantly, they are more accurate, the rate of response is relatively high and it is easy to analyse why the particular answers are given to the questions. The data received from the interview will be represented and analysed by using graphs and charts.

For the purpose of this research, both published and unpublished literature available in the subject area as well as similar areas will be reviewed critically and in details in order to establish facts about the topic and draw conclusions. Also journals, such as magazines and watershed journals will be reviewed since they tend to discuss very current issues in the industry. Other literature to be reviewed will include other research reports as well as reports from seminars.

Watershed management websites will be reviewed and information will be gathered from them. Due to the method selected to be used to collect data, which is the personal interview technique, equipment such as voice recorders and hand held PDAs will be used in order to enhance the data collection process and facilitate easy analysis afterwards. During the data collection process, the writer imagine a lot of travelling hence various transportation means available, such as trains, public buses, taxis and private means, will be used.

After the collection of data, computer software such as SPSS will be used to present and analyse the data. Other computer programmes, like Microsoft Office Project and Microsoft Office Excel among other software will be used in order to enhance the final presentation, analysis and conclusion of all the data collected.

This proposed research program, even though will yield very physical and useful results, will involve a lot of financial investment due to the resources needed to carry it out successfully. Hence it will cost the researcher a lot of money to be able to achieve good and useful results.

Another major control picture will be the willingness and availability of respondents to the survey. It will be very difficult to get respondents who are willing to spare some time to give an interview and even if they do, they might not be sincere in giving accurate responses especially if the questions are a bit searching into their company’s activities or personal opinions.

Research Beneficiaries / Dissemination

This proposed research, when completed successfully, will be a useful report which will go a long way to blow on the watershed industry because it will bring out and highlight some, of the points, of the existing water management in the country and continue to improve the general performance of the watershed industry in the world.

Even though quite a lot of research has been carried out in this area and a lot of reports written, most of them are focused on Watershed management and more especially relating it mainly to water resources issues, which is what makes this research a bit different and unique for that matter.

This report will be forwarded for publication in different print magazines in the industry and also posted on the internet so that anybody can have access to it. It will not only benefit the watershed industry but other industries can also access it and apply the theories propounded as well.


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