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Microwatershed management using RS and GIS technologies

Jajnaseni Rout, Adikanda Ojha
Research Fellow, Chilika Development Authority, Bhubaneswar, India
[email protected]

The rampant growth of population and advancements in life style have tremendously increased the demands for food, fuel, fodder, fiber, shelter, communication, etc. These growing demands are putting the resilience of the natural resource base under threat. To ensure food and water security, the vertical and horizontal expansion of production, has to be effective without degrading productivity.

Development through watershed approach is one such developmental option. Watershed management is the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed, aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, programmes and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal and human communities within a watershed boundary. Watershed is a hydrological unit bounded by natural ridges and allows the run off due to rainfall to drain in a well defined drainage pattern of streams flowing within the watersheds boundary. It aims at alleviating habitat and inhabitant impoverishment through a holistic approach of conservation and sustainable exploitation of natural responsibility and harmonious co-existence manner.

A watershed is an area of land and water bounded by a drainage divide within which the surface runoff collects and flows out of the watershed through a single outlet into a lager river (or) lake. Land and water are the two most valuable and essential resources which forms the basis of all the life and forms key resources in all economic activities ranging from agriculture to industry. Watershed management is no longer the exclusive domain of soil and water conservationists, it now needs equal contribution from social scientists, doctors and experts of other disciplines also.

As an integral part of area development programme, land resources development programmes are taken upon micro watershed basis as the shape of the watershed controls, the natural resources like water, soil and productivity of the land for successful implementation of agriculture, forest and other micro level development in each hectare of a watershed the micro watershed and the village becomes the most adaptable unit. For regional planning and management the micro watersheds and villages are the most workable units. Using satellite data and GIS technology, maps of landuse/landcover, drainage, soil, etc., will became indispensable to manage natural and human resources.

The concept of development of land and water resources on watersheds basis gained importance in India since 1974. The watershed approach is increasingly being deployed in various development programmes to manage the water and land resources like soil and water conservation.

Study area
The study area is Budhikhamari micro watershed no – 0408020306250102 (in India) included three villages i.e. Budhikhamari, Radhikasol, Badsol in Baripada block of Mayurbhanj district of Orissa state lying between longitude 86° 46’ 7.634” E. to 86° 47’35.87”E. and latitude 31°50’1.58”N. to 21°52’87.77”N. covered by toposheets no 73K13nw and 73k13sw with a scale of 1:25,000. The total area of the micro watershed covering 10sq.km.


  1. To study the available water resources and evaluate the natural resources using remote sensing data for the extraction of feasibility condition for its development.
  2. To map all the thematic information by interpreting the satellite imageries and also from cadastral sheets. The thematic layers include landuse/landcover, drainage network, soil, land capability, roads, etc.
  3. To study the topography by interpreting SRTM data and extracting layers like slope, contour, drainage pattern.
  4. To prepare the action plan maps i.e. land resources development and water resources development by integrating the information obtained from analysis.


  • Cartosat II (2m. resolution) Satellite image,
  • SRTM Datan,
  • SOI toposheet (1:25,000)-73K13sw and 73K13nw,
  • Village cadastral sheets from settlement office, and
  • Software used- Arc GIS 10.0, ERDAS 11.0 and Mike basin.


Criteria used in the analysis

  1. Weighted Overlay analysis using modified Drastic Model (EPA)
    Groundwater potential =0.2*GM+0.1*GO+0.2*LD+0.1*ST+0.15*DD+0.15*SL+0.1*LU/LC
    Where GM =Geomorphology, GO=Geology, LD=Lineament Density, ST=Soil type
    , DD =Drainage Density, SL=Slope, LU/LC=Landuse / Landcover
  2. Suitability analysis for land resource development based on criteria adopted for National Afforestation Program.
    Fooder and fuel wood plantation in areas with > 60% slope and structural hills .Afforestation in areas with open vegetation cover and slope 30- 60%, Intensive agriculture in areas with high drainage and favourable soil.
  3. Queries for water resource action
    Check dams to be suggested in areas with stream order >=3, valleys and plains with high permeability zones .Renovation of ponds to be suggested areas with stream order >3, Lift irrigation to be suggested on River, slope <3%, Stream order 1,Shallow dug well to be suggested in areas within 100m. buffer of lineament and proximity to drainage.Borewell to be suggested in areas with open areas, slope <5%, stream order >=3.

Analysis and Discussion:

All the above thematic layers are integrated for the generation of ground water potential map which was inturn used for the generation of an action plan, which is optimally suitable to the terrain and to the development of local resources so that the level of production is sustained without decline over time various Water Resources Development and management techniques, soil and Water Conservation measures and optimal landuse patterns are suggested for the overall sustainable economic development of the watershed.

Water resource development-
An action plan for Water Resources Development is generated by integrating all the thematic layers in which 17nos. of Borewell, 17 nos. Shallow Dug wells, 2 nos. of Lift irrigation, 22 nos. Check dams, 19 nos. Loose boulder structures, 12 nos. field bunding and 1 no. of Renovation tank sites were recommended and is shown in the water resource development map. The Check dam and Loose boulder structures recommended to regulate the surface water flow there by increasing its influence over the command area and the ground water levels.

Land resource development –

Action plan for Land Resource Development prepared by overlying the thematic maps in order to suggests various developmental activities like Afforestation, Agricultural plantation, Fooder fuel wood plantation, Pisciculture / Dockery, Renovation of tank, Vegetable plantation, Extensive agriculture etc. The action plan for land resources is shown in the map. These development activities help in reduced soil erosion, increased moisture conservation and improved productivity of the soil.

The current work has done on extensive ground truthing and micro analysis for micro watershed for preparation of these developmental plans. These approaches require both spatial and non-spatial data analysis .All the above results aim for optimum development of land and water resources and to meet the basic minimum needs of people there by improving their socio-economic conditions. The information generated from such studies can be applied by decision makers and planners for sustainable development of the micro watershed area.


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