Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Springs and Springsheds Management for Reviving Drying Springs

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Mountain springs are the primary source of water for millions of people in the mid hills of the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH). Both rural and urban communities depend on springs for meeting their drinking, domestic and agricultural water needs. Springs also contribute to the base flows of rivers in this region. There is increasing evidence that springs are drying up or their discharge is reducing, or quality of spring water is deteriorating in many parts of HKH. As a result communities are facing unprecedented water stress. The exact extent of this problem is not well known given that there are dearth of scientific studies. 

Springs are a part of groundwater system and the science of hydrogeology that governs the occurrence and movement of water in the underground aquifers i.e. water bearing geological formations is not well understood. Springs are also part of complex socio-technical and informal governance systems with pronounced gender and equity dimensions and these issues are not well understood either. This often results in misconception regarding springs and this in turn, creates misaligned policies that exacerbate the problem. 

Climate change and change in bio-physical landscape (e.g. landuse and vegetation) is widely implicated for drying of springs. Also, rapid socio-economic and demographic changes and infrastructure (dams; roads etc.) have also impacted springs. But there is very little systematic knowledge to effectively link spring discharge with climate change; vegetation change, or socio-economic and demographic changes, and infrastructure development. 

Drying of springs and its consequence is a regional phenomenon that cuts across the entire HKH from Afghanistan all the way to Myanmar. Few local and national organizations have started scientific studies and policy advocacy on springs, but more needs to be done, especially given the regional nature of the problem. Of particular significance has been the work done by the Rural Management and Development Department (RM&DD) of Government of Sikkim where they demonstrated for the first time that springs can indeed be revived through a good understanding of underlying hydrogeology. 

In order to reduce water stress faced by mountain communities and to improve their lives and livelihoods, there is a need to manage springs and springsheds in a scientific and comprehensive way. Reviving springs is of particular importance to women, as women are tasked with gathering water for household purposes and when springs dry up, they must travel greater distances to collect water.

In this context, this knowledge sharing workshop is being organized by the Watershed Management Division (WMD), Department of Forests & Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests of Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in collaboration with National Environment Commission, RGoB; Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM), Pune, India and RM&DD, Government of Sikkim.

Objective

The main objective of this workshop is to share a step-wise, systematic methodology for managing springs and springsheds and reviving drying springs. This methodology combines hydrogeology with social-governance aspects for a comprehensive understanding of springs. It is hoped that such comprehensive technical and theoretical knowledge about hydrogeology and socio-governance aspects of springs will enhance the capacity of the participants and in the process improve springshed management in their respective areas. It is also anticipated that the events like this will contribute significantly in enhancing the knowledge generation and cooperation in springs and springshed management as well as exchange of data and knowledge and promote regional cooperation. 

Course Description

Four-day long training workshop is designed to familiarize the participants with the concept of springs and springshed management with a special focus on the issue of revival of springs. This includes 3 days of class room training, followed by one day of field visit. The course will provide both theoretical and practical knowledge. There will be focus on socio-technical and hydrogeological aspects of springs.  This training will contribute towards framing a common understanding of springshed management research and implementation among key stakeholders in the region. 

The course will cover the geological context of the Himalayas, with special reference to Bhutan; will provide introduction to concepts of groundwater, aquifers, springs and springsheds; clarify the conceptual difference between springsheds and watersheds; will deal with issues of spring water quantity and quality and assess the need for spring revival based on village level vulnerability assessment; and will walk the participants through the various steps of spring revival protocol. These steps are: comprehensive mapping of springs and springsheds; setting up of data monitoring systems; understanding social and governance aspects; hydrogeological mapping; creating a conceptual hydrogeological layout; identification of recharge areas; developing springshed management protocol and finally, measuring hydrological and other impacts of spring revival. 

Resource persons

This workshop will be conducted by resource persons from WMD and Department of Geology and Mines of the RGoB; RM&DD of Government of Sikkim; ACWADAM, Pune and ICIMOD, Kathmandu. 

Participants

The training is designed for implementing agencies, representatives of the local government line agencies and local partner organizations who are directly involved in programs on springshed management and revival. This training is also useful for planners and policy makers and will help them in designing appropriate spring revival programs. Participants from the following organizations will take part in this 4-day long training. 

S.No. Agency No.of Participants
1 National Environment CommissionSecretariat (NECS) 2
2 Ministry of Health, Department ofPublic Health 1
3 Ministry of Works and Human Settlement(Water Department and Thromde/Municipal) 2
4 Department of Agriculture (Irrigation) 1
5 National Center for Hydromet Services 1
6 Department of Geology & Mines 1
7 Royal Society for Protection of Nature(RSPN) 1
8 Tarayana Foundation 1
9 Royal University of Bhutan(RTC/CNR/Sherubtse) 3
10 Ugyen Wangchuk Institute forConservation, Environment and Research 2
11 Thimphu Forest Division 3
12 Social Forestry & ExtensionDivision 1
13 Nature Conservation Division 1
14 Forest Resources & ManagementDivision 1
15 Forest Protection & Enforcement Division 1
16 Watershed Management Division 6
Total number of participants 28