Adaptation of Standardised Precipitation Index for understanding watertable fluctuations and groundwater resilience in hard-rock areas of India

  • P. Chinnasamy
  • B. MaheshwariEmail author
  • S. A. Prathapar
Original Article


Groundwater use in India, and many developing countries, is linked to livelihood and well-being of village communities. It is, therefore, important to characterise groundwater behaviour and resilience and identify strategies that will help to improve the sustainability of groundwater supplies. The concept of Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) has been widely used for analysing rainfall drought. In this study, we adapt SPI to understand watertable fluctuations and assess resilience of groundwater supplies vis-à-vis rainfall variability from one year to the next. The modified SPI, called Groundwater Resilience Index (GRI), represents a normalized continuous watertable elevation variability function. The index is applied to two districts, viz., Udaipur and Aravalli in Rajasthan and Gujarat, India, respectively, to assess its usefulness. To evaluate the association of rainfall variability with groundwater depth fluctuation, SPI was also calculated. The study showed that GRI varies less than SPI, indicating that groundwater availability is less variable than the rainfall in both districts. This means that groundwater increases reliability of water supply for irrigation in both districts. The estimated SPI and GRI at 6-month intervals for the study period show that even though the groundwater is not stressed (normal condition in 75% of the months observed), there is variation in resilience of the aquifer system to drought and extreme events. Overall, the study indicated that the proposed GRI can be a useful tool for understanding watertable fluctuations and assessing groundwater resilience, especially to prioritise areas for groundwater recharge when funds for recharge works are limited.


Groundwater management Drought Rainfall recharge Index SPI Aquifer response Resilience and watertable fluctuation 



Funding for this research was provided by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (Grant no. LWR/2010/015), Canberra, Australia. Support from the Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) is also appreciated. We appreciate the Central Ground Water Board, New Delhi, for making the watertable data available for use in this study. We also thank Dr. Peter Dillon for his valuable comments on the manuscript and the MARVI project team for their support during the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geohydrology and Remote SensingInternational Water Management InstituteColomboSri Lanka
  2. 2.Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural AreasIndian Institute of Technology-BombayMumbaiIndia
  3. 3.School of Science and HealthWestern Sydney UniversityPenrithAustralia
  4. 4.International Water Management InstituteColomboSri Lanka

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