Disturbances at the catchment, change in land use pattern such as road construction, and climate change are some of the causes attributed to drying up of spring sources, according to forestry officials.

This was shared at a knowledge-sharing workshop in Thimphu on November 15. Although the country has the highest per capita of water availability with 109,000 cubic metres in the region, shortage of water due to drying up of streams had been common across the country.

Deputy chief forestry officer, Samten Wangchuk said that a study on drying water sources was conducted in Paro and Pemagatshel since September this year. A site each in Bumthang and Zhemgang would also be studied.

Watershed Management Division’s (WMD) forestry officer Kaka said that in Paro’s Shaba gewog, four of the five streams have dried up over the last two decades. “No specific intervention had been done on drying up of spring sources in isolation. However, in areas where watershed management had been developed and are under construction, site specific interventions are being designed.”

He said that it includes rehabilitation of degraded sources through plantation of native species, and designation of safer catchment.

It was found that villages have moved to other low-lying places due to the drying up of streams.

Kaka said that some of the causes of water scarcity were developmental activities mainly road constructions, forest fires, excessive use of forest resources, and climate change.

The training on springs and spring-shed management to revive drying springs will involve comprehensive mapping of springs and spring-sheds, setting up of data monitoring systems, creating a conceptual hydrogeological layout, identification of recharge areas, and developing spring-shed management protocol among others.

WMD and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organised the training.

Rinchen Zangmo