Design and Pilot Testing of Performance-Based Management of Groundwater Use in Irrigation

Project Result / Case Study | 30 June 2016

Agro-well based agriculture is on the rise in the dry zones of Sri Lanka, thus increasing their vulnerability to mismanaged groundwater resources. This PDA was created to design and test performance-based management of groundwater use in irrigation, as well as support development of farm-level water management strategies to minimize surface water irrigation demand for dry zone agricultural practices. This will help minimize the environmental risks faced by groundwater dependent farmers in the country’s dry zones.


Project site Sri Lanka
Cost $50,000
Status Completed
Approval date June 2016
Completion date June 2017
ADB officer K.M. Palitha S. Bandara
Partner International Water Management Institute


The PDA involved a study of field level irrigation supply, crop water use, water percolated to recharge the phreatic surface, and ground water extraction to assess risks associated with agricultural use of groundwater in irrigated areas. Ground water pumping was also assessed in terms of energy consumption and environmental consequences, and the PDA included testing of performance-based management system for conjunctive management of surface and groundwater resources.


During the pilot, groundwater depths and various water quality parameters were collected, studied, and incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS) database, revealing that the water from the tested wells could be used for irrigation. 

Two stakeholder meetings were also organized to share project results and present current groundwater situation in the area: first, at the level of policymakers, and second, with field officials and farmers from the area.

Overall, the outcome from this PDA is improved capacity of staff at Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Irrigation and Water Management (MIWM), Irrigation Department (ID), the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka (MASL), and the Provincial Irrigation Department (PID) of the North Central Province. Capacity building focused on making irrigation schedules associated with ground water extraction while minimizing potential environmental hazards, and applying state-of-the-art remote-sensing and GIS techniques for water use estimations.

The overall impact is reduced environmental risk of groundwater use in dry zone irrigation schemes.

Read the final report