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Depleting Spring Sources in the Himalayas: Environmental Drivers or Just Perception?

  • Anju Pandit
  • Okke Batelaan
  • Vishnu Prasad Pandey
  • Sanot Adhikari
  • Summary

Study region Rangun Khola Watershed, Mahakali River Basin, Far Western Nepal. Study focus We mapped and examined the status of 1122 springs in a typical mid-hill watershed in the Sudurpaschim Province of Nepal. Land use/cover trajectory analysis, quantification of climate change indices, analysis of spring flow trends and community perception were used to understand the changing dynamics of the mountain springs. New hydrological insights 73% of the springs show a continuous declining trend in flow, with 2% already dried up. Land fragmentation between 1990 and 2018 due to the conversion to agricultural land causes landscape disturbances in the spring vicinities, affecting natural spring flows. Climate data assessment revealed a significant increase in temperature and frequency of localised high-intensity rainfall. Local climate and land use change are concurrent with drying spring sources and consistent with the local community's perceived manifestation of changes. Moreover, the growing population and haphazard rural road expansion are overexploiting and disturbing the spring resources. Drying spring sources are leading to implications on water availability and accessibility for livelihood activities, exacerbating gendered vulnerability to climate change. However, the government and local households are lagging in taking direct actions to mitigate the problem, increasing the likelihood of critical long-term consequences for the ecosystem and the local economy in Rangun Khola and similar watersheds in the Himalayas.

  • Published in:
    Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 53
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