Northwest Sri Lanka running out of groundwater: official

Oct 28, 2009 (LBO) – Puttalam in Sri Lanka’s northwest is rapidly running out of groundwater due to paddy farming, with the water table falling alarmingly and facing the threat of sea water contamination, an official has warned. “Ground water levels have dropped in the Puttalam district as ground water is being used extensively for paddy farming,” N P Wijayananda, chairman of Sri Lanka’s Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GMSB) told reporters at the ministry of environment.

“I don’t want to exaggerate this but if sea water seeps into the ground water supply it will be a disaster.”

Puttalam is in the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, where rainfall is low. But some parts of the district are rich in agricultural produce.

Unlike other crops, paddy is cultivated under full inundation and is extremely water intensive.

The Bureau has found that the water table in the Puttalam district has dipped alarmingly in the recent past.

“Normally you can tap ground water by digging five meters, but now digging 20 meters for ground water is common in the Puttalam district,” Wijayananda said.

“What will happen is the water levels are going down and the low rain water levels in Puttalam district are not recharging the