Although water harvesting is receiving renewed attention as a strategy to cope with increasing seasonal and inter-annual rainfall variability, many centuries-old local water-harvesting reservoirs (tanks) in India are rapidly deteriorating. Easy access to groundwater is seen as one of the major threats to their maintenance and functioning. Potentially, however, conjunctive use of water from rain, tanks and groundwater reserves, supported by proper monitoring, could improve the resilience and productivity of traditional tank irrigation systems. To date, few quantitative multi-annual analyses of such climate-smart systems have been published. To redress this, we assess the sustainability of a rehabilitated tank irrigation system, by monitoring all inputs and outputs over a period of six years (12 cropping seasons). Our results show that during the period considered, improved conjunctive use resulted in a more stable cropping intensity, increased economic water productivity and higher net agricultural income. Groundwater tables were not negatively affected. We argue that improved conjunctive use can considerably reduce the vulnerability of tank irrigation to rainfall variability and thus is a valuable strategy in light of future climate change.
Siderius, C., Boonstra, H., Munaswamy, V., Ramana, C., Kabat, P., van Ierland, E. C., & Hellegers, P. J. G. J. (2015). Climate-smart tank irrigation: A multi-year analysis of improved conjunctive water use under high rainfall variability. Agricultural Water Management, 148, 52-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2014.09.009