Relating Trends in Streamflow to Anthropogenic Influences: A Case Study of Himayat Sagar Catchment, India
Catchment development has been identified as a potentially major cause of streamflow change in many river basins in India. This research aims to understand changes in the Himayat Sagar catchment (HSC), India, where significant reductions in streamflow have been observed. Rainfall and streamflow trend analysis for 1980–2004 shows a decline in streamflow without significant changes in rainfall. A regression model was used to quantify changes in the rainfall-runoff relationship over the study period. We relate these streamflow trends to anthropogenic changes in land use, groundwater abstraction and watershed development that lead to increased ET (Evapotranspiration) in the catchment. Streamflow has declined at a rate of 3.6 mm/y. Various estimates of changes in evapotranspiration/irrigation water use were made. Well inventories suggested an increase of 7.2 mm/y in groundwater extractions whereas typical irrigation practices suggests applied water increased by 9.0 mm/y, while estimates of evapotranspiration using remote sensing data showed an increasing rate of 4.1 mm/y. Surface water storage capacity of various small watershed development structures increased by 2 mm over 7 years. It is concluded that the dominant hydrological process responsible for streamflow reduction is the increase in evapotranspiration associated with irrigation development, however, most of the anthropogenic changes examined are interrelated and occurred simultaneously, making separating out individual impacts very difficult.