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Identifying Ideal Positions for RWH structures via Satellite Imaging: How?

I believe that,underground water gets enriched by the rain water entering some of the cracks on the crust of the earth.

Such cracks might have been filled by soil now and may not be visible to our naked eye. I want to identify with the

help of satellite picture (may be by using any  modern technology like infra red photos) the cracks on the earths crust.

Once we identify such  spots, we need to construct water harvesting/storage systems next to such spots with an

intention to help the rain water reach such cracks and enrich deeper part of the earth quickly. Thus, the rain water

gets recharged quickly resulting in improvement of underground water table and a lot of benefit. For this project,

I want to know where can I get the  satellite images which may give me idea about the spots which has got cracks

on earths crust.

Ramesh B.M.




Dear B.M. Ramesh,

Local selection of suitable sites for artificial recharge and water harvesting structures needs a large volume of multidisciplinary data from various sources. Remote sensing satellites is immense use for natural resources mapping and generating necessary spatial database required as input for GIS analysis. In Hyderabad, National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) which is an Indian government agency conducts such kind of technical studies such as receiving, processing and distributing the satellite and aerial remote sensing data and products.

NRSA also runs Indian Institute of Remote Sensing at Dehra Dun. Developing water resources by constructing small water conservation structures is gaining momentum in recent years. In this context, Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) has been developed for identifying suitable sites for water resources development. Basic guidelines provided by the Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (IMSD) and the technical guidelines suggested by the Indian National Committee on Hydrology (INCOH) for identifying suitable sites for water harvesting structures have been used in the knowledge base of the developed SDSS. Dehradun and its environs have been taken up as a study area to identify suitable sites for water harvesting structures using the developed Spatial Decision Support System.

You may contact for more information at own ground station
National Remote Sensing Agency
(Dept. of Space, Govt. of India),
Balanagar, Hyderabad - 500 037,
Telephone 23879572-76
Telex 0425-8039 NRSA IN
Telegram REMOSEN
Fax 040-23878648
Website is
Aerial related information


Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS)
(National Remote Sensing Agency, Dept. of Space, Govt. of India)
4, Kalidas Road,
Phone-No: + 91 - (0)135 – 2746798/ 2524106
Fax: + 91 - (0)135 - 274197

You may also contact the agencies like State Ground Water Departments and Hydrogeologists working in the area.

You can refer other online link in the series:
NATIONAL REMOTE SENSING AGENCY rainwater harvesting stractures
NATIONAL REMOTE SENSING AGENCY rainwater harvesting stractures

Anita Bhatt
WES-Net India


Dear B.M.Ramesh,

The principle source of recharge for groundwater is rainwater, surface water, return flow from irrigation and recharge from waste water. The portion of water that infiltrates into the subsurface varies from area to area depending upon the rock type and the local setting of the area. The process of infiltration begins with the soil getting saturated after which the water gradually moves vertically and horizontally through the soil and subsurface material. Eventually it enters the groundwater system. In the groundwater system the water moves laterally following the gradient. This process of infiltration can be terminated when intersected by a stream or is met by an impermeable layer such as clay or hard rock.

In certain situations the entire process can be bye passed if the precipitation directly falls on a favorable zone like a major fracture, shear zone, fault or a water body with highly permeable bed. Under such circumstances the Infiltration takes place in the form of a funnel directly reaching the ground water system. GIS technologies in combination with satellite imageries have been successfully employed for mapping such favorable groundwater recharge zones.

The National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and all state remote sensing agencies have already prepared such maps on 50,000 scale which is helpful for regional studies. Availability of imageries with higher resolution makes it now possible to enhance the interpretation to individual farm level.

Dr. K.A.S.Mani
Project Leader
Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS)
Block No. A-2(c), First Floor
Huda Commercial Complex
Tarnaka Hyderbad - 500 007
Andhra Pradesh.


As rightly stated by B.M. Ramesh, fracture openings (otherwise called lineaments), developed on the Earth's surface by diastrophism during its long geological history, act as conduits to infiltrate rainwater and surface water into the underground to form groundwater on a large scale.

Although these openings are not visible to the human eye, their existence can be best recognised in the satellite imageries. They extend for lengths varying from several metres to several kilometres. These lineaments have to be however distinguished from other linear features such as certain rock formations such as dolerite dykes, quartz veins and pegmatites and man-made structures such as roads, railwaylines and canals.

Construction of groundwater recharge structures across these fracture lineaments in the elevated recharge areas helps for effective recharge of groundwater. Construction of wells along the same fracture lineaments in the low-lying discharge areas helps to obtain large quantities of groundwater.

To prevent loss of valuable water through seepage, it is not desirable to construct reservoirs across such lineaments. Any wastewater discharged along these lineaments leads to groundwater pollution.

Click here to view a satellie imagery of Tirumala Hills showing well-developed fracture lineaments. This imagery has been downloaded freely from Google Earth. A fracture lineament is seen to extend right through Tirumala temple to Srivarimettu and Chandragiri. In view of the location of Gogarbham and Papavinasam reservoirs along fracture lineaments, seepage losses are quite high.
Click here to view a satellie imagery of Tirumala Hills showing well-developed fracture lineaments. This imagery has been downloaded freely from Google Earth. A fracture lineament is seen to extend right through Tirumala temple to Srivarimettu and Chandragiri. In view of the location of Gogarbham and Papavinasam reservoirs along fracture lineaments, seepage losses are quite high.

Google Earth allows for viewing and capturing satellite imageries of any part of the Earth's surface almost freely. By paying some subscription, better quality imageries can be obtained. Satellite imageries can also be purchased from the National Remote Sensing Agency at Hyderabad.

The Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India has hired the services of the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) to obtain ground water prospects maps on 1:50,000 scale for most parts of India.

Further details can be obtained at These maps are useful not only to locate favourable sites for construction of wells but also to prioritise areas for groundwater recharging through different types of recharge structures.
From the feedback received from the States by the NRSA, the wells drilled using these maps had more than 85-90% success rate while the saving achieved by avoiding digging of unsuccessful wells through use of these maps has been estimated to be in the range of Rs. 500-800 crore But unfortunately these maps are not available for public use.

Dr. R. Jagadiswara Rao
Retired Professor of Geology
Sri Venkateswara University
Tirupati, AP 517502

Dr. R. Jagadiswara Rao, Professor of Geology Retired, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, AP 517502, India


Dear Ramesh B.M.

Your project reminded me of this work that was done in and around Arizona:

"A predictive penetrative fracture mapping method from
Regional potential field and geologic datasets, southwest Colorado Plateau, U.S.A." by Mark E. Gettings and Mark W. Bultman of the U.S. Geological Survey, 520 N. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA

This article includes information about the datasets used, including data references.

Good luck,
Lanya Ross

Senior Environmental Scientist
Metropolitan Council
390 Robert Street
Saint Paul, MN 55101


Dear Ramesh,

Most of previous replies are from very learned persons carrying important positions and organizational works. And as indicated most of these resources have all that which might have satisfied you.

On micro scale we need to collect and analyze the site where we are interested to recharge the ground water, it is always advisable if we allow rain water to travel little distance and take it to suitable area and make some structures for rain water harvesting.

This is more of local specific design than a generalize work and accordingly you should get all that information from water shed maps of your area prepared by those one of the agencies suggested in earlier replies, Dr. Mani and us are involved in demand management project focusing sustainable groundwater use in agriculture with demand management and supply augmentation.

More detailed project discussion can be held if you are interested bilaterally. We are involved in a Rajasthan based project and we can be reached through this email.

Prakash Chhangani


Dear Mr. Ramesh,

I do not know your background. Your Question is direct. Honestly telling, I could not found any direct answer to his query. May I put some more questions for the public. Even if he gets the Interpreted remote sensing map scan he be able to verify the ground truth. Can he implement, correctly. Does he have technical team with him?

Are the planning bodies and the real implementing agencies, really looking for such maps, or are they allowed to atleast to thing on this line and implement the water harvesting features and structures?

What are the advocacy of different artificial recharge schemes and departments designs. Are attempts being made to genuinely, effectively think for the better recharge tools and methods, to recharge the not only the deeper medium but also effectively the shallow medium.

Now a days, deep borewells for drinking water or for Prawn culture or for Industrial needs are common. Going as deep as 1250 feet near the coast or on the coastal line in Tamil Nadu has become a common thing, where you get assured moderate quality drinking water only below 1000 feet.

To recharge such bore wells, that occur in the deep sedimentary zones we need to find such cracks as that advocated by Mr. Ramesh.

Will the concerned department fallow this procedure, which is a most effective one. I have also found ground water vanishing from the top zones and getting into the deeper dry fractured zones, in farmers fields of Coimbatore and Tirupur areas, where you strike water only below 750 to 960 feet during the drought seasons of 2003-2005.

As genuinely well quarried by Mr. Ramesh, this can be a solution to such areas. Let the implementing departments and sourcing agencies have a deep thought over this. Even to recharge a shallow medium they need such micro or macro cracks to allow the water to move.

We can get as pointed out earlier, imagery from googleearth. Getting the data from NRSA will cost a little more. As informed by Dr. Viswanath, in what ever area your project is getting implemented, you can approach NRSA, for an interpreted maps. Or you can write to IWRM and try to get a map. Or you can download from Google maps and get it interpreted by any technical workers in the field.

As implementation requires ground truth, kindly engage a technician who are capable of recognizing fractures/ faults/ cracks and other such linear indicators. Please construct structures across these lineaments and fractures and over them. Also please ensure that these cracks are not filled by clay or shale particles which delay the infiltration or virtually block the percolation. Hence careful site study is required, for effective recharge to take place.

Drilling few low diameter borewells and confirming that there are yielding fractures and constructing water harvesting structures over such group of bore wells is much more beneficial than simply leaving it to the open soil. Such bore wells should also have filtration and percolation chambers built around it. Slugging by the gravity, the rain water will accelerate into the ground water medium.

Honestly I believe, a commoner getting interpreted remote sensing map is difficult. WES-NET can do such helps to these kind of volunteers. Even for me, getting the correct interpreted map from the department was difficult unless you have some contacts. I do not how long we have to wait to get a correct map that suits our requirement.

Preying for such effective and fruitful thinking to emerge from general public,
With deep and warm regards,

A. Raja Mohamed Ambalam
Coastal Energy Private Limited



Dear Mr Ramesh,

Kindly see the UNESCO GROWNET site:
Access here:
where in our paper on Digital Elevation model for artificial recgharge is described.(Power point presentation) After opening the site on the left side click on Colloborators where in number of papers of your interest you can find.

I could send the detailed paper if required .I am presently working in Yemen on IWRM. Earlier was a Consultant for UNICEF projects, worked for UNDP in Yemen,

Formerly Associate Dean and Professor Water Resources Engineering in College of Agriculture Eritrea (NEAfrica) after I took retirement prematurely froom NABRD as General Manager (Tech)

Water Resources Specialist


Dear Ramesh
We did some work on Rainwater Harvesting in Eritrea. similarly Karnataka the Rural Water Supply organisation did some work on Recharging through defunct borewells and other structures.

Dr.K.S.Viswanatham and
Water Resources Specialist
Republic of Yemen

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