A study was carried out to select the best method to estimate groundwater recharge in a hard rock terrain. Various standard empirical methods, soil-moisture balance method, water table fluctuation (WTF) method and commonly adopted norms set by Groundwater Estimation Committee (GEC), Govt of India were used to estimate recharge for the Munijhara watershed in the Nayagarh block of Orissa (India). The empirical formulae gave recharge rates ranging from 13 cm to 32 cm/year with average of 22.4 cm and standard deviation of 5.34, independent of other influencing factors like soil, topography and geology. The soil-moisture balance study indicated that recharge is more dependent on the continuous heavy rainfall total annual volume of rainfall. Recharge was limited at up to 10 mm per day, possibly due to presence of hard rock below the soil surface. The rise in water table depth was 3.45 m to 5.35 m with a mean rise of 4.5 m during the year 2006–2007. Annual groundwater recharge based on the WTF approach varied from 10.3 to 16.85 cm with a mean of 13.5 cm, standard deviation of 1.57 cm and coefficient of variation 11.57%. This recharge accounted for 8 to 14% of rainfall received. With a water budget approach based on GEC norms, recharge was calculated as 17 cm per year. The study showed that the magnitudes of annual groundwater recharge as estimated by the WST method and GEC norms are in conformity with other recent findings in India under the same climate conditions. Based on the results recharge structures could be planned in suitable locations to reduce fallow areas under the watershed.

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