Impact of land use changes and management practices on groundwater resources in Kolar district, Southern India

This study analyzes the impact of land use changes on the hydrology of Kolar district in the state of Karnataka, India. Kolar receives on average 565 mm (σ = 130) rainfall during June to October and has a wide gap between its water supply and demand. This research identifies the reasons and causes of the gap. A water balance model was successfully calibrated and validated against measurements of groundwater level, recharge and surface runoff. The study revealed that between 1972 and 2011, there was a major shift from grass and rainfed crop lands to eucalyptus plantation and irrigated cultivation. About 17.7 % and 18 % of the district area converted into eucalyptus plantation and irrigated lands during this period, respectively. Eucalyptus plantations tended to cause large losses by ET leading to increase in soil moisture deficit and reduction in the recharge to groundwater and in surface runoff (approx. 30 %). The irrigation demand of the district increased from 57 mm (1972) to 140 mm (2011) which resulted in increased groundwater abstraction by 145 %. The expansion of the irrigated area is the major contributing factor for widening the demand-supply gap (62 %) of the freshwater availability. Results could help various stakeholders, including district and national authorities to develop the most suitable water management strategies in order to close the gap between water supply and demand.