Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1157–1171 | Cite as

Water Bodies Protection Index for assessing the sustainability status of lakes under the influence of urbanization: a case study of south Chennai, India

  • M. Chaithanya Sudha
  • S. Ravichandran
  • R. Sakthivadivel


Vulnerability of water resources to degradation is one of the critical issues facing developing countries. Changes in population and land use associated with urbanization may alter social interdependence of water bodies in the vicinity of urban and periurban areas thereby affecting their sustainability. Preservation and proper management of lakes are urgently needed to ensure that these freshwater ecosystems continue to deliver their services to the people in the changing scenarios resulting from urbanization. In this paper, we make use of indicators, a powerful tool in decision making, and propose Water Bodies Protection Index (WBPI), which can serve as monitoring cum ranking tool to prioritize conservation efforts for periurban water bodies. Water quality, biological diversity, encroachment of the lakes, role played by the local community in lake management and preservation, and implementation of existing Acts for protection of water resources by government agencies are the five factors chosen for formulating this index. The data and information for this were obtained through socio-ecological study of six water bodies situated in the urban to rural gradient at the southern fringe of Chennai city in south India. Weightages were assigned to the above factors based on a Delphi study. A simple aggregation of weighted factors yields the index that classifies the protection status from poor (<2.5) to sustainable (>9). Application of the WBPI to the study lakes and comparing it with an urbanization index from the literature for the locations of the study lakes provided satisfactory classification and correlation, respectively. The WBPI is expected to help assess many such water bodies elsewhere to set targets for their revival and preservation.


Periurban water bodies WBPI Urbanization Socio-ecology Chennai 


  1. Ariza, P., Galan, E., Serrano, T., & Reyes-Garcia, V. (2007). Water tanks as ecosystem, local ecosystemic perception for integral management of water tanks in Tamil Nadu, South India. Revista de recerca I formacio on antropologia, 7, 1–27.Google Scholar
  2. Arul, C. (2008). Gaps in irrigation laws of Tamil Nadu. A doctoral thesis, Faculty of Civil engineering, Anna University, p. 285.Google Scholar
  3. Avramoski, O. (2004). The role of public participation and citizen involvement in Lake Basin management. Thematic Paper, Lake Basin Management Initiative, Thematic Paper, 16.
  4. Costanza, R., Norton, B. G., & Haskell, B. D. (1992). Toward an operational definition of ecosystem health. In R. Costanza, B. G. Norton, & B. D. Haskell (Eds.), Ecosystem health: New goals for environmental management (pp. 239–256). Washington DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cude, C. G. (2001). Oregon Water Quality Index: A tool for evaluating water quality management effectiveness. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 37(1), 125–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dahl, A. L. (2012). Achievements and gaps in indicators for sustainability. Ecological Indicators, 17, 14–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Datta, P. (2006). Urbanization in India, regional and sub regional dynamic population process in urban areas. European population conference, Kolkata.Google Scholar
  8. DeFries, R., & Eshleman, K. N. (2004). Land-use change and hydrologic processes: A major focus for the future. Hydrological Processes, 18(11), 2183–2186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dhan (Ed.). (2002). Village tanks of South Asia. In Papers and proceedings of the regional workshop, Madurai, India. Research and Documentation Resource Centre, Dhan Foundation, Madurai, 625101, India.Google Scholar
  10. Fathi, A. A., Abdelzaher, H. M. A., Flower, R. J., Ramdani, M., & Kraïem, M. M. (2001). Phytoplankton communities of North African wetland lakes: The CASSARINA project. Aquatic Ecology, 35(3–4), 303–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferng, J. J. (2007). Human freshwater demand for economic activity and ecosystems in Taiwan. Environmental Management, 40(6), 913–925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Habib, M. A. B., Yusoff, F. M., Phang, S. M., Ang, K. J., & Mohamed, S. (1997). Nutritional values of chironomid larvae grown in palm oil mill effluent and algal culture. Aquaculture, 158(1–2), 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hosmani, S. P., Vasanthakumar, L., & Partha, S. (1999). Ecological significance of biochemical parameters in certain fresh water lakes of Mysore. Journal of Environmental Biology, 20(2), 121–124.Google Scholar
  14. Jafari, N. G., & Gunale, V. R. (2006). Hydrobiological study of algae of an urban freshwater river. Journal of Applied Science and Environmental Management, 10(2), 153–158.Google Scholar
  15. Lee, Y. J., & Huang, C. M. (2007). Sustainability index for Taipei. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 27(6), 505–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McCormick, V. P., & Cairns, J. (1994). Algae as indicators of environmental change. Journal of Applied Phycology, 6, 509–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mitsch, W. J., & Gosselink, J. G. (2000). Wetlands (4th ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Mwanza, D. D. (2005). Water for sustainable development in Africa. In L. Hens & B. Nath (Eds.), The world summit on sustainable development: The Johannesburg conference (pp. 91–111). The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ouyang, Y. (2005). Evaluation of water quality monitoring stations by principal component analysis. Water Research, 39(12), 2621–2635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Palmer, C. M. (1969). A composite rating of algae tolerating organic pollution. Journal of Phycology, 15(1), 78–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Person, J. L. (1989). Environmental science investigations. New York: J. M. LeBel Enterprises, Ltd.Google Scholar
  22. Pichyakorn, B. (2002). Sustainable development and international watercourse agreements: The Mekong and the Rhine. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (Draft 30 June 2002).Google Scholar
  23. Pinilla, G. (2010). An index of limnological conditions for urban wetlands of Bogota city, Colombia. Ecological Indicators, 10(4), 848–856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ratnavel, S. M., & Gomathinayagam, P. (2006). In search of ancient wisdom—Irrigation tanks (1st ed.). Madurai, India: Dhan Foundation.Google Scholar
  25. Schoonover, J. E., Lockaby, B. G., & Pan, S. (2005). Changes in chemical and physical properties of stream water across an urban-rural gradient in western Georgia. Urban Ecosystems, 8(1), 107–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sethukkarasi, S. (2008). An index for measuring urbanization in Tambaramtaluk, south of Chennai city. Master thesis (IWRM), Centre for Water Resources, Anna University, Chennai.Google Scholar
  27. Silva, T., Vinçon-Leite, B., Tassin, B., Petrucci, G., Seidl, M., Lemaire, B., et al. (2011). An integrated approach for urban water modelling, linking a watershed hydrological model and a cyanobacteria dynamics model in urban lakes. 12th international conference on urban drainage, Porto Alegre/Brazil, 11–16.Google Scholar
  28. Singg, R. N., & Webb, B. R. (1979). Use of Delphi methodology to assess goals and social impact of a watershed project. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 15(1), 136–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stambuk-Giljanovic, N. (1999). Water quality evaluation by index in Dalmatia. Water Research, 33(16), 3423–3440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sullivan, C. A., & Meigh, J. R. (2006). Application of the water poverty index at different scales: A cautionary tale. Water International, 31(3), 412–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Trivedy, R. K. (1986). Role of algae in biomonitors in river ecology. Symposium on biomonitoring state environment, pp. 183–189.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Chaithanya Sudha
    • 1
  • S. Ravichandran
    • 1
  • R. Sakthivadivel
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Water ResourcesAnna UniversityChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Emeritus Professor, Centre for Water ResourcesAnna UniversityChennaiIndia

Personalised recommendations