Columbia Water Center Director Upmanu Lall Addresses Water Challenges in India

In a recent trip to India, Columbia Water Center Director Professor Upmanu Lall addressed a joint seminar on Water Risks and Stewardship in India (organized by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Asian Development Bank, and the 2030 Water Resources Group), led a roundtable meeting of the India Water Action Network, presented to water stakeholders at a workshop on sustainable water management in Jharkhand, and addressed how the state of Punjab could move toward sustainable water use at a stakeholder consultation in Chandigarh.

In his talks, Lall emphasized the need to address water supply, not just demand, explained the need to bridge the water data and information gap, outlined new directions in R&D and discussed the impact of climate change.

Seminar on Water Risk and Water Stewardship in India

At the Seminar on Water Risk and Water Stewardship in India, Professor Lall addressed a session on “Building a Common Understanding of Water Risks and Risk Sharing” in which he explained Columbia Water Center’s Water Risk Model. The model has the ability to predict how much storage water will be available in a given season, an important consideration for all the water using sectors. Lall also called for focused analysis at the user level for better decision-making, and argued that while demand management is important, it is equally important to enhance the understanding of the supply side in light of changing climate and its impact.

Roundtable Meeting: India Water Action Network

In 2008, Columbia Water Center (CWC) and Centers for International Projects Trust (CIPT) launched the India Water Action Network to engage leaders in industry, government and non-government organizations to develop and communicate a clear scientific assessment of the key water issues and opportunities from a broad set of user and developer perspectives.

In his remarks to the group Professor Lall stressed upon the need to bridge data and information gap in water. While there are numerous institutions undertaking research across different regions in India, he said, there is no credible mechanism to collect and access the information. Deliberations during the roundtable helped to identify potential areas for collaborative action with different stakeholders.

Consultative Workshop: Towards Sustainable Water Management in Jharkhand

On August 25th, the state of Jharkand’s departments of agriculture, drinking water and sanitation, energy, mines, geology, the groundwater board and department of water resources met in a consultive workshop to discuss the state’s water management and to share one-year progress on an R&D project.

Professor Lall gave a presentation on the progress of the multi-purpose pilot, which assesses the feasibility and cost effectiveness of sustainable technologies for drinking water storage and distribution in rural areas. Lall suggested future directions to address key challenges, including the need to collect high quality DEM data.

Lall also emphasized the need for local institutions like Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ), Indian School of Mines (ISM) and Jharkhand Space Application Centre (JSAC) to come forward and work in collaboration with Drinking Water and Sanitation Department (DWSD) to develop a data bank for the state. NECTAR/DST, Lall said, could provide technologies for specific data collection and analysis with some local partner for better implementation. Columbia Water Center would add value by designing systems integration and providing thought leadership for specific analysis and technology development to help various stakeholders with project development and implementation. Lall also suggested the DWSD needs to set up a research cell with dedicated staff that can be trained by academic groups (ISM, CUJ, BAU, Columbia and NECTAR) in various areas of research design, hydrological analysis and modelling work.

Stakeholder Consultation: Towards Sustainable Water Use in Punjab Agriculture: Roadmap for Collective Action

On August 28, CIPT organized a stakeholder consultation on sustainable water use for agriculture in Punjab, as part of the USAID funded project on “Water-Agriculture-Livelihood Security (WEALS) in India.” Participants discussed challenges and identified collaborative actions involving various stakeholders – government, civil society, academia and farmers.

Speaking on the impacts of climate change in Punjab, professor Lall stressed the need to increase supply in light of threats to water availability and called for a mix of demand- and supply-side management measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate-informed forecasts of near term rain and flow also can inform many instruments for supply and demand management, he added. Price signals and incentives timed to the forecast can induce positive behavior and demand changes, Lall said.


A Water Risk Model to Inform India’s Development

How Can Punjab Adapt to a Changing Climate?

Jharkhand Rural Water Supply Development R&D Project Status Report


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