Hydrogeology of the Dry Zone, Central Myanmar, published after 30 years

A major study on the Hydrogeology of the Dry Zone – Central Myanmar, supported by the AWP, was published and launched in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, this week (17 October 2017). The publication provides a comprehensive hydrogeological assessment for the Central Dry Zone in Myanmar, a 54,000km2 expanse of land home to almost a quarter of Myanmar’s population of 52 million people. The area misses out on much of the monsoon rains, which are intercepted by mountains to the west.

Between 1978-88, the Australian Government’s Aid Agency, supported by Myanmar’s Rural Water Supply Division (RWSD) of the Agricultural Mechanisation Department (AMD), undertook a Groundwater Resource Assessment for the Central Dry Zone. However, due to political circumstances, the near-complete work was never published. It remains the most comprehensive assessment of hydrogeology and groundwater resources for the region, and many universities in Myanmar still teach from the draft text of 30 years ago. Now that the study has been updated and published, for the first time it is widely accessible to Myanmar water managers.

In June 2017, AWP supported the original 1980s Team Leader – one of Australia’s leading hydrogeologists, Dr Len Drury of Aqua Rock Konsultants (ARK) – to return to Myanmar to update, complete and publish the book through AWP’s Groundwater Review of Central Myanmar activity, as part of the World Bank’s Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project (AIRBMP). It is a culmination of 30 years of Dr Drury’s work with assistance from the Groundwater Division, Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department (IWUMD) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI). The figures and maps were digitised by International Centre Environmental Management (ICEM), and the text peer-reviewed by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

The book was completed in September 2017 and provides insight into the hydrogeology within the Dry Zone. It describes the current knowledge of the groundwater systems and indicates the location and nature of hydrogeological features (high aquifer yields, low and high salinity, artesian pressure, elevated temperatures, contaminants—arsenic and fluoride—and age). The study includes a summary of hydrogeological characteristics for various aquifers within the Dry Zone, estimation of water storage, water balance models, suggestions on groundwater management, and recommendations on future hydrogeological research. Over 60 detailed figures and maps are provided to assist in the optimisation of hydrogeological investigation, development, and management.

The book launch was a momentous occasion and an opportunity to formally acknowledge the people that contributed to it over the years and talk about its key findings. More than 50 representatives and several local media outlets attended the book launch from ARK, MOALI, IWUMD, IWMI, ICEM, and AWP. Prof Nick Schofield, AWP CEO, introduced the audience to AWP’s State of Basin Assessments in Myanmar and Len’s work on the hydrogeology of the dry zone.

“Len’s seminal contribution captured in this magnificent publication is the jewel in the crown of AWP’s contribution to sustainable water development in the Ayeyarwady Basin to date”, Nick stated. “AWP looks forward to meeting with staff of the IWUMD to discuss future collaboration after the book launch.”

Commenting on the preparation and finalisation of the book with his counterparts in Myanmar, Len said, “The initial base of the book had already been written, but of course after 30 years there are substantial changes in information.  And what I found was that when I went back the doors were just open.  If I wanted information, they’d get the information.  When I wanted to go in the field, the people from the IWUMD, Irrigation and Water Utilisation Management Department would come with me – they’ve organised for the logistics, and even many places when I arrived retired hydrogeologists and drillers were lining the street as I arrived… it was a great pleasure because they were so enthusiastic to actually give me the information so this book can be prepared.”

Hydrogeology of the Dry Zone – Central Myanmar can be downloaded for free from the publications page.

To find out more about the origins of the hydrogeological work in Myanmar and Len’s experience working in Myanmar, listen to Len’s Kini interview.

Listen on Kini

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