Conserving springs as climate change adaptation action: lessons from Chibo–Pashyor Watershed, Teesta River Basin, Kalimpong, West Bengal, India

Springs are the most important source of water for millions of people in the mid-hills of the Himalaya. Both rural and urban communities depend on springs for meeting their drinking, domestic, and agricultural water needs. There is now increasing evidence of springs drying up or their discharge reducing, as a result of which communities are facing water stress. The science of springs and hydrogeology are usually not well understood; aspects like linking recharge areas, the movement of groundwater and the difference between ‘source’ and ‘resource’ of springshed systems need to be demystified to local communities, administrators, and landowners. Springs are also part of complex social and informal governance systems, which are often inadequate both in terms of governance and management of the sources. This can also lead to disruption in the recharge areas. To provide more insights into these issues, this Working Paper identifies and maps spring systems, water budgeting, groundwater flows, and governance issues around the pilot areas of the Chibo–Pashyor watershed of Kalimpong. A total of 55 springs were mapped in the study site and 12 critical springs were selected for monitoring and detailed study, based on vulnerability criteria developed for this research. An analysis of water access, discharge, and budgeting, based on the “National Rural Drinking Water Programme Guidelines 2013”, was also conducted. Furthermore, in order to understand spring sources and resources as well as recharge areas, hydrogeological and lithological studies were conducted.