ESPA research informs local citizens’ action to protect critical water sources

Authors Directorate, E.S.P.A.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Impact Story


In the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, Nainital’s lake supports its growing population and tourism industry, but its water levels are declining. A project funded by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme researched the impact of human activities on water levels, and convened an expert group that supported local citizens who are engaged in a public interest lawsuit to protect their water source.

Nainital is reliant on its central lake to support its growing economy, but its critical recharge zone has suffered a rapid increase in water pumping and construction that has resulted in declining water levels. ESPA research suggested that such activities should be halted in order to restore the capacity of this critical water recharge zone. The research fed into a public interest lawsuit, media articles and a citizen group, all focused on building support to rejuvenate the recharge zone. The Uttarakhand state government has released 30 million rupees (just under US$500,000) for this purpose.

The project worked to empower non-experts with crucial knowledge about critical water zones and the importance of recharging watercourses, and brought together diverse stakeholders (in particular the citizens impacted by water shortage) to promote dialogue.