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Policy needs for a sustainable management of groundwater resources in Sri Lanka

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conference contribution
posted on 2018-02-12, 15:10 authored by Gemunu Herath, Uditha Ratnayake
The demand for ground water in Sri Lanka has grown rapidly over the past few decades, mainly as a result of population growth, economic development, and shortages in rainfall. Recent estimate show that over 55 percent of the population now relies on it for there daily needs. As a free and easily tapped commodity, groundwater today is used in a wide variety of uses. Of the 300 urban and rural piped water supply schemes operating across the country, almost one – third of them rely entirely on groundwater. The volume they withdraw exceeds over 16 million cubic meters per year, which includes supply to many industrial zones and urban and rural centers. And the volume of groundwater abstracted by around 11 million individual domestic users (out of the 13 million people with no access to piped water) is estimated at around 400 Mm3/yr. In some parts of the country including many locations in Kandy and Colombo, high pumping rates have lowered the groundwater table, causing the wells to go dry and affecting the natural water courses including those used for drinking. If these situations get worse, water shortages could become severe, especially during the more frequent extended frequent dry spells being experienced, possibly due to climate change. Further, water pollution from domestic, agricultural and industrial sources is contaminating the surface water and groundwater and affecting the environment and further placing more pressure on the available water resource. Therefore in this paper identifies several critical issues as urgent challenges to be immediately addressed to achieve a sustainably managing groundwater resource in Sri Lanka.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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HERATH, G. and RATNAYKE, U., 2006. Policy needs for a sustainable management of groundwater resources in Sri Lanka. IN: Fisher, J. (ed). Sustainable development of water resources, water supply and environmental sanitation: Proceedings of the 32nd WEDC International Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 13-17 November 2006, pp. 243-246.


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