The management of watershed – an area of land that receives precipitation and drains down into stream, river and lake, is essential to enhance the water resource originating in the watershed and improve the land of watershed for more efficient and sustained production. In addition, watershed management is helpful in increasing infiltration of the rainwater and enhancing the ground water recharge. Of various watershed management methods, construction of recharge pond is one technique where the surface runoff is diverted into the pond, which then infiltrates and helps in ground water recharge. It is an easy and low cost method for replenishing the “water tower” in the hills and mountains. Such pond water can also be used for feeding livestock, washing clothes and utensils, kitchen gardening etc. In higher elevations where there are very few or no spring sources, water conservation pond is one of the options for making water available throughout the year even in the dry season.
Water conservation ponds not only provide water for rural livelihoods and replenish groundwater reserves but also protect hillsides from landslides during the rainy season. Conservation ponds have been in practice for years in Nepal; especially by indigenous populations in the hilly region. However in recent years, such ponds are drying out and disappearing from the locality due to lack of conservation works. There are several reasons for dwindling traditional ponds. One of them is the impact of climate change. There have been significant changes in the precipitation pattern in terms of intensity and frequency. Some areas are receiving ‘too much water’ leading to floods, landslides and soil erosion while some areas have ‘too little water’ resulting in droughts and water scarcity. Drying springs, streams and ponds has become a growing issue in hills and mountain community. Also, lack of conservation works is the cause for declining traditional ponds as majority of local people have migrated to areas where there is a water access, employment and education facility for their children. The remaining households in the community are facing water scarcity and ensuring water security is a challenge in such community.
In order to deal with such issues, traditional ponds can be reconditioned by building structures that facilitate in storing rainwater and recharging groundwater, known as recharge pond.
Eastern part of Kaski District (Begnas, Hansapur, Rupakot & Thumki) regarded as water stress area, where more than 20 traditional ponds can be recharged to cope with water scarcity at these community; in returns this will help to reduce spring source depletion at downstream as well.
To deal with drought and water scarcity, rainwater harvesting forms the major component of water management which helps to store rainwater for future use and augment groundwater reserves. Rainwater harvesting has been listed as one of the adaptation strategies to climate change impacts by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Rainwater harvesting ponds or recharge ponds will have numerous benefits such as water availability for domestic purpose and feeding livestock, recharge of groundwater, surface runoff control, prevention of soil erosion, etc. Government of Nepal has felt the need of conservation of drying traditional ponds and hence reintroduced water conservation pond as a local adaptation strategy in Nepal.
Since IRHA has been actively working on projects related to water conservation and management particularly in groundwater recharge and Kanchan Nepal has growing concern on the conservation of drying traditional ponds as per the community needs, rehabilitating the ponds will not only fulfill the combined interests of IRHA and Kanchan Nepal but also help in reviving the drying ponds, improving infiltration and groundwater recharge and thus, benefiting the rural community.
By: Sony Pun