Articles written in Journal of Earth System Science

    • Analysis of spatio-temporal trend in groundwater elevation data from arsenic affected alluvial aquifers – Case study from Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Eastern India


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      Fluctuation in groundwater level is a time-dependent stochastic process. It is also a function of various inflow and outflow components to and from the hydrologic system concerned. Depth to water level data are measured through a network of observation wells or hydrograph stations to ascertain the degree of fluctuation in groundwater level at the desired scale, on a long-term basis. Basically, these depths to water level data are point measurements, which can be regarded as random variables furnishing changes in groundwater storage over time. The intrinsic in-homogeneity in aquifer materials introduces variations like jumps, trends, and periodicities in such hydrologic time series data. Thus, trending results from certain gradual, natural and/or anthropogenic interventions in the hydrologic environment and analyses of their trends are imperative for assessment of groundwater level scenario in the area of interest. This in turn, is essential for strategic planning and management for exploitation of the precious groundwater resource in the same area. The area of interest in this article, i.e., Murshidabad is one of the nine arsenic affected districts of West Bengal. Here, contamination persist within, shallow, arseniferous, alluvial aquifers, which are otherwise widely exploited for irrigation purposes. According to many researchers working in this area, over-exploitation of groundwater is the root cause for the plummeting water level and the widespread arsenic contamination as well. The present study intends to detect and analyze the trends persisting in the depth to water level data measured over a period from 1996 to 2016, in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, India, amidst its complex and contrasting hydrogeologic set-up and interpret the results in terms of the hydrologic attributes of the Bengal basin as a whole. The non-parametric Mann–Kendall test and the Sen’s slope estimator have been used to identify the linear trend persisting in the time series pre- and post-monsoon groundwater elevation values. The analysis indicates statistically significant decline in water level across the study area especially during the post-monsoon season. This can be attributed to the recharge–discharge disparity within the hydrologic regime; brought through intense pumping over the study area. Its ill effect being particularly observed in the western part of river Bhagirathi. Findings of such study are crucial for assessment of dynamic groundwater resources of the district and subsequently can be utilized as a decision support tool for groundwater management at micro-level.


      $\bullet$ Declining trend in ground water level elevation is indicative of startling water crisis over a region; however, assessment of such trend should be performed over a quantitative basis, as; fluctuation in groundwater level is a time-dependent stochastic process.

      $\bullet$ A well-knit methodology (including RL correction, spatial interpolation of data, analyses and quantification of trend present in the data) needs to be followed by the groundwater managers operating at the micro-level to keep an account of aquifer storage conditions.

      $\bullet$ Statistically significant declining trend in water level elevation is observed in the Arsenic affected shallow alluvial aquifers, on either sides of river Bhagirathi.

      $\bullet$ Lack of groundwater replenishment within recoverable recharge, coupled with over extraction causes such drop in groundwater elevation.

      $\bullet$ To combat similar situation groundwater extraction should be restricted within the limit of sustainability and should not exceed natural recharge potential.

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