Groundwater resources and management challenges in Sri Lanka-an overview

Karen Grothe Villholth, Lorraine D. Rajasooriyar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


This paper gives an overview of the geophysico-chemical groundwater conditions in Sri Lanka and the associated contemporary management challenges. Groundwater is extensively used in Sri Lanka today, for agriculture, domestic use and industry/tourism. Groundwater access, availability and vulnerability are governed by six major types of aquifer systems of which the most prevalent is the regolith aquifers in the central hard rock areas of the island. Uncontrolled groundwater use and contamination or natural poor quality are leading to access limitations and health concerns. The tsunami severely affected groundwater in the coastal areas and functioned as a wake-up call to further emphasize the importance of groundwater for life-supporting functions. Despite an emerging awareness, groundwater management is in its infancy, with the attitude of groundwater development still not converted into an approach of active management. The role of groundwater in achieving sustainable development and in the development of appropriate water management institutions needs to be highlighted and specifically addressed in policy discussions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1489-1513
Number of pages25
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Groundwater management
  • Groundwater resources
  • Review
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tsunami

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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