2019/05/11 Dresden, Germany
By Aparna Srikantan, Systems and Flux Analysis Considering Global Change Assessment
The lack of a clear understanding of groundwater systems behaviour in peri-urban wastewater irrigation systems motivated Mahesh Jampani to embark on his PhD journey. Having closely worked in a related field, with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in India, he took up the PhD programme in April 2015. His thesis entitled “Integrated Evaluation of Wastewater Irrigation for Sustainable and Groundwater Development” was set upon his home country, in the banks of Musi River in the peri-urban area of Hyderabad, India.
On 7 May 2019, the thesis defence came as a conclusion of his PhD journey as part of the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste of the United Nations University and Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden), implemented in cooperation between UNU-FLORES and the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at TU Dresden.
The deteriorating groundwater quality associated with the peri-urban agricultural system irrigated with urban wastewater was the main issue addressed in the thesis. Specialised in hydrological modelling and experienced in integrated assessment of water resources, the proposition broadened the scope of sustainable agriculture considering options for improvement of the local aquifer.
During the period of three years of research, Dr Jampani assessed groundwater quality dynamics and seasonality using multivariate analyses, multi-way modelling, and self-organising maps. The first publication of his work studied the spatio-temporal distribution and chemical characterisation of groundwater quality of a wastewater-irrigated system. The results suggest that concentrations of the major ionic substances increase after the monsoon season, especially in wastewater-irrigated areas. Groundwater quality deteriorated mainly as a consequence of increasing salinity.
In further sections of his thesis, Dr Jampani assessed the dynamics of peri-urban land-use changes and the respective groundwater recharge. Finally, he identified potential management options to improve groundwater conditions in a scenario analysis using a groundwater model.
Among the various questions raised towards the end of the event, the most discussed queries were regarding the policymaking that could possibly implement the integral approach in the best possible way. The core idea of the Nexus Approach and to bridge the gap between experts and policymakers were rightly pointed out. “Peri-urban areas are complex and highly dynamic multifunctional land-use systems,” said Dr Jampani, pointing out the lack of policies for agricultural practices and the lack of monitoring stations to address the groundwater quality in the observed area.
Dr Jampani accomplished his dissertation within eight semesters and graduated with magna cum laude. The thesis was completed under the supervision of Prof. Dr Rudolf Liedl (TU Dresden) and Dr Stephan Hülsmann (UNU-FLORES). In addition, the thesis defence was evaluated jointly by the dissertation committee led by Prof. Dr Ing. Habil. Christina Dornack (TU Dresden), as well as UNU-FLORES Director Prof. Edeltraud Guenther and Dr Priyanie Amerasinghe (International Water Management Institute).
The joint degree certificate from both UNU and TU Dresden is awarded to the PhD candidate, who in addition to the research work, also successfully completes the coursework on the basic concepts of the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus.
Jampani, Mahesh, Stephan Huelsmann, Rudolf Liedl, Sahebrao Sonkamble, Shakeel Ahmed, and Priyanie Amerasinghe. 2018. “Spatio-Temporal Distribution and Chemical Characterization of Groundwater Quality of a Wastewater Irrigated System: A Case Study.” Science of The Total Environment 636 (September): 1089–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.04.347.