Water is one of the most important substances on Earth. All plants and animals must have water to survive. If there is no water, there would be no life on earth. Without water, life simply cannot be sustained. Our biological system are made up of about 60% water and we cannot survive more than a few days without it. It is the fluid that lubricates the workings of the cell, transporting the materials and molecular machinery from one place to another and facilitating the chemical reactions that keep us going. Water is also an integral part of many ecosystems that support us and a myriad of other species. The three main sources of fresh water are groundwater, surface water and rainwater which is necessary for the survival of all living organisms on Earth.
Water availability is described as the quantity of water that can be used for human purposes without significant harm to ecosystems or other users. Surface waters receive water from both runoff and discharges from Groundwater.
Groundwater is characterized the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers. Groundwater recharge can be defined as water added to the aquifer through the unsaturated zone after infiltration and percolation following any storm rainfall event and surface water bodies.
The demand for water originates from four main sources, namely, agriculture, production of energy, industrial uses and human consumption. This number will increase from 33 to 58% to 4.8 to 5.7 billion by 2050. About 73% of the people affected by water scarcity presently live in Asia. In the 2010s, groundwater use globally amounted to 800 km3 per year.
Water scarcity, both natural and of human origin, is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands within a region. Water is unequally distributed over time and space. Much of it is wasted, polluted and unsustainably managed. There is no National water scarcity as such, but a number of places and regions are chronically short of water because its use at the National level has increased more than twice, as fast as the population over the last century. The pollution of available consumable water is one of key factor as well.
Water pollution is the pollution of water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, seas, the oceans, as well as groundwater. It occurs when pollutants reach these bodies of water, without treatment. Water pollution is a problem for the species and ecosystems there. It affects plants and organisms living in water. The water quality deterioration is mainly damaging the environment, health condition and global economy which include destruction of biodiversity, contamination of the food chain, lack of potable water, increase diseases and rate of infant mortality.
Groundwater is a major contributor for sustained flow in many streams and rivers and has a strong influence on river and wetland habitats for plants and animals. People have been using groundwater for thousands of years and continue to use it today, largely for drinking water and irrigation. In many parts of our country groundwater is an indispensable resource supporting domestic water supply, irrigated agriculture and industry due to insufficient availability of potable surface water throughout the country. The intensive use of groundwater in the last few decades has raised concerns regarding the potential depletion of the resource, water quality degradation and various hazards. Limitations in the hydrogeologic characterization and understanding of the response of a groundwater system, in combination with the misconception by the public that it is an unlimited water resource, can lead to its inefficient and even wasteful use.
Therefore, groundwater resources play a significant role in providing drinking water to the all communities of the country. Water Resources Board (WRB) in Sri Lanka, is the Sole authority responsible for ensuring the optimum exploration, utilization, development, conservation and protection of the country’s groundwater resources. Therefore, the WRB is mandated with the responsibility of regulating the groundwater resources in Sri Lanka as per the Act No. 1964, Amended in 1999 and the Gazette notification No. 2010/23 of 16th March 2017.
For this purpose the “Groundwater Regulatory Unit” has been established in WRB to carry out regulatory activities related to the sustainable use of groundwater in domestic, agriculture and Industrial activities as per the economic development of the country while protecting this valuable resource for the next generations.