The main objective of the section is to conduct research and development for the conservation and efficient utilization of available water resources to meet the current water demand for various sectors in general and agriculture in particular, as well as planning for future demands. The research and development activities are focused on three major areas:
1. Surface water management
2. Groundwater management
3. Indigenous development of water management instruments
Major Research Findings /Achievements / On-going Activities:
Surface Water Management
i. A survey of the farmers' existing practices showed that crop yield, conveyance and water use efficiencies are very low in the field. PCRWR explored and modified bed and furrow technique through which 30% water can be saved whereas growing crops with sprinkler system can save upto 40% of water.
ii. Evaluated and identified low-cost watercourse linings materials and techniques based on the findings of research that maximum seepages take place from the side banks and not from the bed.
iii. Lysimetric studies have shown that maize can be grown with only pre-sowing irrigation, by which 20% water can be saved without reducing the crop yield. Further studies provided that shallow groundwater (0.4-0.5 m) contributes to crop water requirements of various crops.
iv. An assessment of unsafe disposal of sewerage and industrial effluents on the environment showed that it caused wide-spread water-borne and water related diseases, devastating various vital ecosystem components like groundwater, fisheries, agricultural produce etc besides wastage of water resources which can be recycled to reduce water stress.
v. The testing of methodologies and investigating the techniques for rejuvenation of glaciers, to improve the frozen water resources of the country, three sites have been selected, one in Chilas (Goharabad) and two in Skardu (Tarkati and Gole). After collecting the baseline data, the grafting of glaciers has successfully been accomplished with the active participation of Agha Khan Rural Support Programme (AGKRSP) and local community and monitoring of these glaciers for mass accumulation etc. is underway.
vi. An empirical model for characterizing snowmelt regime of Upper Swat River Basin and forecasting seasonal flow thereof has been developed. Improvement of the model by incorporating more data is underway that would help Indus Irrigation System management.
vii. Experimentation at the Research and Demonstration Farm for irrigated areas showed that rice can be grown with sprinkler system with much less water, a saving upto an extent of 40% has been found. Similarly, growing rice with bed and furrow irrigation system could save up to 30% irrigation water.
viii. Introduction of low delta crops in different regions of the country with innovative irrigation methods like trickle, bed and furrow and zero tillage have been explored particularly in remote areas like Balochistan and Sindh.
ix. Water potential of the country's dry lands (Pothwar plateau) has been quantified and the impact of land and water resources development activities on the socio-economic conditions of the native as well as under prospective climatic conditions has been evaluated. It was found that such activities are essential for sustained economic growth besides preventing quality degradation of streams, rivers and reservoirs.
x. Five rainwater harvesting structures were constructed in Pothwar region for on farm provision of water. The structures demonstrate best practices for on farm management of water and its efficient utilization with high efficiency irrigation system such as sprinkler and trickle.
xi. Northern mountainous areas remained mostly out of focus due to being rugged and remote. PCRWR launched water conservation programme for that area and provided water storage and conveyance system, water lifting system and high efficiency irrigation systems at 30 sites. Those serve as demonstration units for large scale adoption leading to improved farm level water conservation, landuse intensity and cropping intensity.
xii. Development of an integrated national water management plan is underway as site-specific state of the art packages have been implemented at pilot-scale in all agro-ecological zones of the country for evaluation and improvement like northern areas, upland mountainous areas, deserts, irrigated areas, coastal areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir . The package include different technologies like innovative watercourse improvement, construction of check dams, mini dams, dug wells, installation of high efficiency irrigation systems (lift, sprinkler and drip) and laser land leveling etc.
i. PCRWR introduced concept of participatory On-Farm Tile Drainage in Sindh Province to reclaim waterlogged and saline soils. Under this programme, 1000 hectares of abandoned farmersâ€™ land was recovered for production. The replication of this concept to other parts of Sindh would help reclaim thousand acres of unproductive land, besides sustaining the system on long term basis.
ii. Investigations and mapping of groundwater zones in Indus Basin has identified about 5 million-acre feet (MAF) of additional fresh groundwater sources from unexplored zones. This may irrigate 3.3 million acres of additional land.
iii. Water table is monitored in large cities of the country and it is found that water table is falling in most of the cities, for which in Islamabad artificial groundwater recharge has been initiated by making use of rainwater runoff of the Faisal Mosque. Similar projects are being planned for rest of the cities.
iv. Groundwater is rapidly depleting in Balochistan for which the Government of Balochistan constructed over 165 delay action dams, however the efficiency of these dams has been very low due to various technical and management problems. In order to resolve these issues, PCRWR devised low-cost innovative recharging structures like leaky dams which are much efficient for groundwater recharge besides reducing the flood effects; the same is being replicated in other parts of Balochistan due to its efficacy.
v. Design and operational faults of the skimming wells (used in fresh irrigated areas to harness groundwater from the overlying thin freshwater layer above saline water) have been leading to pumpage of low quality water and subsequent degradation of soil and agriculture. Improvement in the well designs and operational strategies have been devised after extensive experimentation to overcome these problems.
vi. Conjunctive use of canal and groundwater with different strategies has been explored to find the best treatment suitable under different hydro-salinity conditions. Implementation of suitable treatments would lead to resolve not only water stress but also improve farm productions.
vii. The prospects of On-Farm Groundwater Recharge are being explored to devise the most suitable ways of injecting surplus irrigation water to improve groundwater resources and reducing flood damages as well.
viii. The groundwater assessment and monitoring in Soan Basin of Pothwar Region has shown that the water table dropped up to 4.0 m since 1981. The "Strategic Water Utilization Plan" proposed by the PCRWR would help sustainable management of available groundwater resources in the region.
Indigenous Development of Agriculture Water Management Instruments
For various research and monitoring activities in agricultural water management, the availability of requisite instruments has always been expensive due to import involved. The Council has made tremendous achievement by designing, fabricating and manufacturing such instrument indigenously like tensiometer, gypsum block, water level indicator, sprinkler heads, rainguns, and salinity sensor which are being provided to various research and development organizations in the country, at a low cost. Moreover, establishment of Technology Demonstration Centre at Lahore is underway for the regular metamorphic development of the indigenous technologies with stakeholder participation. Similarly, establishment of a consultancy cell for providing consultancies and services like laser leveling, farm planning, high efficiency irrigation systems, replacing high returning crops with low ones etc is in progress as well.