Water and Climate Change


Too much, too less, too bad? - Adapting to climate change impacts on water quantity and quality in the drylands of Maharashtra, India (INVITED)


Dr. Isabel Seifert-Dähnn, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)

Dr. Suruchi Bhadwal, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), New Delhi

Dr. Ragini Macaden, St. John’s medical College, Bangalore


  1. Dias A, Dhawde  R,  Surve N, Weinberg A, Birdi T, Mistry N.  Impact of climate changes on water availability and quality in the state of Maharashtra in Western India. AJMBES., 2015, In Press.

Principal Investigator Dr. Nerges Mistry (FMR)

Collaborating Institutes Foundation for Medical Research (FMR), Foundation for Research in Community Health (FRCH), The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), Norwegian Institute of Water Research (NIVA).

Project Team Dr. Tannaz Birdi, Ms. Rutuja Dhawde, Ms. Ashel Dias, Mr. Appasaheb Ghadage

Funder Norwegian Research Council

Duration June 2012 – June 2015

Budget Rs.144.35 Lakhs

Many areas of Maharashtra, particularly the drylands, currently face water supply and quality issues. The amount of water accessible for consumption in these areas is very limited in comparison to the population, and the demand will only continue to rise as the population grows, further aggravated by the severity and the length of droughts. These factors put a tremendous pressure on water resources, making it more difficult to satisfy water demands in the coming future and thereby affecting many sectors, including human health, agriculture, energy production, infrastructure and ecosystems. In addition, the stresses are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, which makes the impact of climate change on water availability an important aspect.

Measurement temperature during testing of water quality in the fieldRelease of dam water into open wellOpen well in parched surroundingsFiltration of water sample in laboratory for chemical and bacteriological analysis[]

Role of TOO-INDIA and FMR

“Too-India” seeks to assess the impacts of climate change on the hydrological systems in the drylands of Maharashtra, particulary the Pune and Satara districts. The study is being carried out with respect to the effect of climatic changes on water availability and quality, and it further seeks to assess the accompanying socio-economic consequences for related sectors and livelihoods and propose technical and non-technical adaptation solutions.

The role of FMR in this project is to assess the water quality and study the influence of weather conditions on water samples from selected villages in the selected study areas. Towards this, water samples from 20 villages were initially analysed for the presence of faecal indicator bacteria, nutrients and standard physicochemical parameters during pre monsoon, onset of monsoon and the end of monsoon, and post monsoon periods.

Cumulative data from first year records reveals a better quality of water during the post monsoon seasons as compared to the other seasons. The reason behind this may be attributed to a drop in temperature, which suppresses the growth of microorganisms significantly. The findings also reveal significant higher counts in the open sources viz rivers, natural lakes, seasonal lakes and backwaters. It appears that the extension of river basins during the monsoon results in the mixing of effluents and wastes in these sources thereby increasing the counts. On the other hand, water quality of the drinking water sources, namely, the open wells and community sources was found to be affected more by anthropogenic activities and animal pollution. Lack of regular water treatment facilities in the villages for these sources affected the quality of drinking water. Comparitively, the closed systems viz, borewells, handpumps, and storage tanks show a better quality of water. Further, it was observed that the counts were also influenced by geographic topography – since surface water showed a higher level of pollution than ground water. This has led to an increase in the usage of ground water for domestic and economic purposes due to scarcity of good quality surface water. Based on these records and observations from the first round of sampling and socio-economic status of villages, eight villages have been selected as hotspots, which will now undergo a more extensive study during the second round of sampling and analysis. Further, the assessment has been extended to households in the selected villages to check water practises in villages.

Future Proposition

Based on the previously obtained records and the data which will be attained during the current sampling season, we can analyse water quality in the selected drylands of Maharashtra. This data can then be exploited to predict future-normal or future-extreme scenarios in water quality. Further, these scenarios can be used to develop offset factors affecting the magnitude of pollution (e.g. population growth, intensified agricultural development, etc.) against factors affecting the dilution of water (e.g. water flow, retention, etc.) in the drylands of Maharashtra.

An Extended Study

One of the Pune based rivers (MulaMutha) which is a part of the study for the Too-India project, and the wastewater treatment plant situated on the riverbank, has been selected to extend this study to “Antibiotic resistance profile and the possibility of potential horizontal gene transfer occuring in environmental bacteria”.

The presence of antibiotic resistance bacteria associated with water and their increasing numbers in riverine waters has become a major public health concern. Their increasing numbers are attributed to the horizontal gene transfer between bacterial species which is facilitated by mobile genetic element viz plasmids, transposons, bacteriophages, integrons etc. Out of these elements, class I integrons, conjugative plasmids and transposons are mainly linked to antibiotic resistance since they harbour diverse resistance genes and distribute the genes in different groups of bacteria. Elements like integrons and transposons associated with genetic mobility can be detected in greater frequencies down-stream of the river from the wastewater treatment plant. To carry out the study of integron based lateral gene transfer for environmental bacterial communities, culture independent approach using metagenomic DNA sequences will be used because of their advantage over culture dependent methods; however, for studying resistance profile of microorganisms in river stretches, the more informative cultivation dependant methods will be used. This study will be submitted for the next round of funding of the Norwegian Research Council.


Impact of climate changes on water availability and quality in the Maharashtra province of India (Under Preparation)

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