Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor's Name

Mahadev Bhat

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Assefa Melesse

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Daniel Gann

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Watershed, Irrigation, Sustainability, Agriculture, India, Economics, GIS, Remote Sensing

Date of Defense



Modernization of traditional small-scale irrigation tanks in India is becoming increasingly popular. This is due to high costs of the alternative, of developing and constructing large-scale projects in rural areas. Examination of management strategies, resource allocation, and collective action has become paramount for promoting food security and livelihoods in water-stressed areas of Southeast Asia. Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing techniques are valuable to assessing the management of these irrigation systems, specifically small water storage reservoirs that capture runoff from the monsoon known as irrigation tanks. The primary goal of this study is to develop a stakeholder-informed approach to identifying and prioritizing the restoration needs of rainwater harvesting irrigation tanks to meet future agricultural and household demand for water in rural Karnataka, India. We studied 40 irrigation tanks in the region through visual observation, key informant discussions, and collection of hydrological data for management in ArcGIS and ENVI. Tanks were characterized for restoration based on hydrological (rainwater storage), physical and environmental conditions. This information was integrated into a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) framework to prioritize and rank tanks based on attributes identified by key stakeholders. Multiple characteristics of water resource management were then compared with projected restoration cost under alternative improvement (de-siltation) scenarios. Results show that the MCDA framework combined with the watershed delineation tools in ArcGIS and ENVI serve as a valuable substitute for the current assessment and prioritization of irrigation system in our study area. Although extraction of groundwater resources through investments in wells has become an attractive option, the tools utilized in this study prove that better management strategies implemented in current irrigation tanks can provide sufficient water resources to large, small, and marginal farmers. The multiple use ranking system of these tanks contributes to additional income generation as well as maximum irrigation potential. The spatially referenced hydrologic output results will prove beneficial for the river basin, with potential applications to other watersheds throughout South-Eastern Asia.






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