On World Water Day, let's gauge Goa's water scenario

Adopting ancient methods and water practices, could make Goa's villages self-sufficient
Rivona spring in South Goa
Rivona spring in South Goa Photo: Rohan Fernandes


Today, on World Water Day, let's take a look at Goa and how every taluka or village in the state is facing shortage of water and how the State can tide over it.

It is an irony that the State which receives copious amounts of rainfall and with 69 percent of its area covered with some or the other form of water body is facing water shortage right in the middle of winter season.

A river in Goa
A river in Goa Photo: Asavari Kulkarni


In the year 2020, the Central government had declared that Goa had become first Har ghar Jal certified state in the country .

Far behind from this fact, the branches of Public Works Department at each taluka have become war grounds with people storming in with empty vessels and angry minds.

Goa has 11 rivers and their 42 tributaries originating in the Western Ghats and going into Arabian sea. As per the Central Ground Water Board records, Goa is placed in the safe category in terms of availability of ground water.

Rivona spring in South Goa
Vernal equinox puts on a fleeting light show at Holy Spirit Church in Goa


Earlier every  house in Goa had one well to fulfil its water need. From the year 1950, Goa started getting dependent on piped water supply. Opa Water Treatment Plant was the first water treatment plant in Goa. It provides water to the talukas of Ponda and Tiswadi.

Today, Goa has almost seven water treatment plants supplying water to two districts and 378 villages. Goa needs water supply of 645 MLD but, receives only 560 MLD with the shortage of almost 85 MLD.

There is hardly any data available about fresh water resources, river salinity etc.

A temple tank in Goa
A temple tank in GoaPhoto: Asavari Kulkarni


Goa's culture has always regarded water and water resources as sacred and important. Aboriginals who resided here from the beginning of civilisation have always taken shelter near water bodies. They developed methods of managing water through sustainable ways to fulfil their daily needs. 

May it be tapping fresh water near estuaries, construction of fond (pit) for irrigation of farmlands, storing water in the form of water ponds or tali for irrigation of kulagars, maintaining springs, ponds as sacred in the form of sacred groves, construction of artificial wetlands, lakes for drinking and irrigation purpose, all these have today form important part of the eco-system structure of Goa. 

There were rules and regulations to be followed for any kind of water body in Goa. Construction of well was defined, may not be on paper, yet people followed it.

Rivona spring in South Goa
‘Save Wetlands Campaign’ launched by the union environment minister


Recently, we celebrated festival of Shigmo with great zeal.  At the end of this festival god/ goddess visits each household of the village in the form of kalash or tarang. Kalash is integral part of any ritual of Goa -- it signifies water.

During the period of Kadamba rule water was worshipped as Gajant Laxmi. In the recent findings, it has been noted that Goa has almost 500 water bodies in the form of temple ponds, mining pits, wetlands etc.

Out of the 500 water bodies, 80 have been identified to be notified under wetland rules. All these water bodies are intact due to the efforts taken by our ancestors.

Rivona spring in South Goa
Water dispute brings importance of wetlands to the fore


Mineral Foundation, a NGO founded by the mining companies in Goa, have successfully demonstrated how community participation can solve water management in a particular village.

The success story of Talade village in Sacordem where in self-helf groups, water management groups comprising women are managing the resources. Villagers of Keri in Ponda taluka have successfully managed to tap rain water through effective harvesting system. So it is not that the water availability is less in Goa.

Traditional knowledge and faith of water management will go a long way to help in reviving this important life giving resource without a doubt.

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