May 2021

Citizen Science 2018 Pre-Monsoon Flow Campaign

Figure 1. Citizen Science Participants at First Training.

In April of 2018, S4W-Nepal launched its first ever Pre-monsoon Citizen Science Flow Campaign. The main objective of this campaign was to assess the spatial variations in discharge of Bagmati River and its tributaries within Kathmandu Valley using the salt dilution technique (there are many variations of this technique, but more information on the technique we utilized can be found here). Since the primary source of water recharge in Kathmandu Valley is from the monsoon precipitation, which only lasts for about four months (roughly from June to September), we decided it would be interesting to see the pre- and post-monsoon variation of discharge in the rivers and springs of Kathmandu Valley. Additionally, even without monsoon precipitation patterns, the diverse geology of this small valley will have an influence on the spatial variability of discharge. It is another factor to consider in our investigation into spatial variation.

We believe that this research will further understanding of water availability within the Kathmandu Valley and enable water managers to make better decisions in the future.

Figure 2: Sub-watersheds of Kathmandu Valley.

Twenty-five students from the Khwopa College of Engineering in Bhaktapur were mobilised in ten different watersheds (Figure 2) of the Kathmandu Valley. In total, across all the watersheds, discharge was measured at more than 150 locations (Figure 3). Since the salt dilution technique is only suitable for high-gradient well mixed rivers with low Electrical Conductivity (EC), measurements were only performed in upstreams of rivers with River Quality Classes (RQC) ranging between I and III. Click here to review a recent publication in which we classified the RQC of all nine perennial tributaries of the Bagmati River using the Rapid Stream Assessment (RSA) technique. We are currently working on processing and analyzing these data, and we hope to include them in a peer-reviewed research article in the future. Additionally, S4W-Nepal is currently developing an online web application that will be used to house and provide data collected through S4W-Nepal efforts such as this. Once it is complete, these data will be uploaded and freely available for the benefit of all.

Figure 3. Salt Dilution Measurement Locations within the Kathmandu Valley.

Our sincere thanks goes to Khwopa College of Engineering for providing us with a group of enthusiastic young researchers to successfully complete this campaign; photos from our training on the salt dilution technique can be seen below (Figure 4). We hope this campaign and the hands-on field experience allowed participants to go beyond their practical, classroom lessons on the subject of “Hydrology” that they had recently completed. Completing this campaign was another milestone for S4W-Nepal towards furthering our three pronged approach of Research, Education, and Employment.

Currently, water resource management is one of the key issues for the Kathmandu Valley. Water resources could be managed properly through spatial and temporal quantification of water quality and quantity. Usual methods of streamflow measurement included installation of water level loggers, streamflow measurement by velocity meters, stage-discharge relationships, etc. However, these methods require trained professionals and significant funding, and they are difficult to apply at a large scale. With recent advances in mobile technologies, data collection efforts that take advantage of citizen scientists and mobile technology can be more easily applied at a larger scale. S4W-Nepal aims to combine citizen science with simple data collection techniques to generate spatially distributed hydrological data. You can find out more about our work at our website here.

Citizen Scientist Story

Meet Sabina Tamang (Citizen Scientist Story)

Happy Boxing Day Everyone!

This is our fourth interview with one of our citizen scientists who are collecting the data and doing the day-to-day work that makes our project in the Kathmandu Valley possible. We’re excited to introduce you to Sabina Tamang!

Figure 1. Sabina with her daughter Aifa.

Q: What is your name?  A: My name is Sabina Tamang. 

Q: How old are you?  A: I’m 25 years old.

Q: Where were you born?  A: I was born in Okhreni, Sundarijal in the Kathmandu Valley.

Q: Where do you live in the Kathmandu Valley?  A: I live in Okhreni, Kathmandu.

Interviewer’s Note: Okhreni is located about 15 kilometers northeast of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, within Shivapuri National Park. Since it is located within a National Park, it still lacks basic infrastructure such as concrete houses, proper roads, shops, etc. Okhreni is a very important cultural site since it is near natural (i.e. still undeveloped) and located in the headwaters of the Bagmati River.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical day of life? What are the activities you’re doing?  A: In addition to being a mother and keeping a household, I am involved in S4W as a citizen scientist, and I have been taking precipitation and water level measurements for the past two years.

Interviewer’s Note: S4W-Nepal is thankful for the opportunity to provide part-time employment opportunities to people like Sabina in a way that provides supplemental income and adds value to their lives, as well as improving our understanding of Nepal’s water resources. It’s a win-win!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?  A: I have one daughter, Aifa, who is three and a half years old.  I live with her and my mother.

Q: What is (or was) your favorite subject in school?  A: Nepali was my favorite subject.

Q: Can you tell us about a favorite moment of yours?  A: My favorite moments of my life are from my school days…

Q: How did you hear about the S4W-Nepal project?  A: I heard about S4W-Nepal through another citizen scientist named Sumina Tamang. She who lives in Mulkharka, on the other side of Shivapuri National Park.

Figure 2. Spring at Okhreni.

Q: What has been your experience as a citizen scientist with S4W so far?  A: As I mentioned before, I have been collecting precipitation and water level data for about two years. I have started noticing changes in the measurements I take throughout the year. I can now explain to people about base flow and runoff of rivers in my area. I have also started to understand the importance of the monsoon. I am also getting a stipend which motivates me in continuing to participate in the project. This project has helped me in boosting my knowledge about local resources as well as my economic condition.

Sabina is playing a critical role in S4W-Nepal as a citizen scientist and is one of the longest standing CS involved in our team.  Each day,  she uses an Android application called Open Data Kit (ODK) to record rainfall collected by an inexpensive locally made rain gauge (each costs about $1.50) and to record water level as seen on a gauge installed  near her house. Sabina is one of the citizen scientists who sends data regularly and is very dedicated in her work. She is motivated to participate in the project both because she feels a sense of responsibility and because she is financially compensated for her participation.  

S4W-Nepal is a collaboration between S4W-USA, Himalayan Biodiversity and Climate Change Center (HimBioCliCC), Tribhuvan University Institute of Engineering (TU IoE), Kathmandu Institute of Applied Sciences (KIAS), Delft University of Technology, the Swedish International Development Agency, and Stockholm University.  Water is our most precious resource.  Lord Kelvin, a famous Scottish mathematician, once said, “you can’t manage a resource you don’t measure.”  S4W-Nepal’s goal is to generate the data necessary to support wise water management decisions. S4W aims to accomplish this with a three-pronged approach of Research, Education, and Employment. This project in the Kathmandu Valley is our first project.

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