Minimizing surface run-off, improving underground water recharging, and on-site rain harvesting in the Kathmandu valley


  • Keshav Bhattarai Department of Physical Sciences; University of Central Missouri
  • Ambika P. Adhikari Institute for Integrated Development Studies, Nepal



Groundwater, Kathmandu Valley, urban, impervious surface, rainwater, land subsidence


Nepal’s political institutions and administrative units were thoroughly restructured in 2015 with the promulgation of the new Constitution. Several rural areas were combined to meet the definition of urban threshold criteria to classify rural areas into urban categories. Accordingly, over 3,900 local political and administrative units were amalgamated into 753 units, of which, 293 units are classified as urban. Within these newly defined urban areas, many natural environments have been converted into impervious surfaces such as paved roads, sidewalks, and building roofs. These impervious surfaces have drastically increased the amount of surface run-offs—often termed as “urban floods” --under increasing precipitation caused by global climate change. These incidences have negatively impacted to the groundwater recharge processes in the urban areas. Data on groundwater recharge rates are needed in the context of global climate change to understand the status of groundwater recharge processes in the urban areas of Nepal. However, due to various limitations, this study only focuses around the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal to understand: a) how the expansion of urban, peri-urban, and associated areas have resulted in decreasing groundwater recharges; b) how groundwater is affected by the year-to-year variability of precipitation amount (low and high intensity) with the conversion of the natural landscape into built-up areas; and c) how the changing trends in precipitation and evapotranspiration may impact future groundwater availability. This study is based on a review of the literature and the analysis of secondary data available from the government and various social media and authors' professional experiences. The study ends with some recommendations based on experiences from other parts of the world on groundwater recharge processes.

Author Biographies

Keshav Bhattarai, Department of Physical Sciences; University of Central Missouri

Keshav Bhattarai is a Professor of Geography at the University of Central Missouri. Keshav has 22+ years of teaching experience in the US, and 15+ years of job experiences in forestry sector of Nepal. He was also a visiting faculty at the Forestry Institute in Hetauda. He served as Department Chair at the Department of Geography at the University of Central Missouri. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geography from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; and a Masters in Natural Resource Management degree from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Prior to that he received AIFC degree from Indian Forest College, Dehradun, India. Dr. Bhattarai has published three books and numerous book chapters and journal articles.

Ambika P. Adhikari, Institute for Integrated Development Studies, Nepal

Ambika P. Adhikari is a Principal Planner with the City of Tempe, Arizona, USA, where he heads its Long Range Planning Division. He has more than 35 years of experience in urban and environmental planning and international development including in the US, Canada, Nepal, India, Mexico, Fiji, and Kenya. In Nepal, he was the Country Representative for International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, and earlier an Associate Professor at the Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University.He is a Senior Global Futures Scientist (an honorary position) at JAW Global Futures Laboratory, Arizona State University, where he also taught for many years as an associated faculty. He is a Distinguished Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Integrated Development Studies (IIDS), Nepal.He obtained his Doctor of Design (DDes) degree from Harvard University and Master of Architecture from University of Hawaii. He has authored one and coedited six books, and published widely in journals and newspapers.


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How to Cite

Bhattarai, K., & Adhikari, A. P. . (2022). Minimizing surface run-off, improving underground water recharging, and on-site rain harvesting in the Kathmandu valley. Nepal Public Policy Review, 2, 287–316.



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