The Initiative for Green Habitats represents a long term commitment towards providing solutions for the creation of Sustainable Built Environments. This blog attempts to provide an insight to our views, commentaries on our work, ideas that we are working on, and provoke thought where there are more questions than answers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The two sides of water

Drought and flood are two sides of one coin, Water. The people of Rajasthan and MP are those who experience the drought while Bihar experience worst o floods in India. But interestingly most other states have both extremes in different parts of the state. In Karnataka the north districts are water scarce while the coastal south districts have flood related hassles. In all cases it is the populated cities that face the worst of all. Certain level of balancing of such a situation is possible if large scale Rain water harvesting and recharging activities are taken up. The cities face water scarcity or flood only due to manmade disruptions. Just look at Bangalore. The networks of beautifully connected lakes have vanished. The city’s eco system has gone for a toss. I fear many of such disruptions are irrevocable and we have to face the fury of weather. We wait for the worst to happen to take the first step.
One unexpected summer rain boosted my confidence about the Rain Water Harvesting and water security. With one day’s rain on 23rd April 2011, the entire 10K litres sump was filled. A straight monetary saving of Rs.400/- that I would have otherwise spent on tanker water. The sight of the filled sump with clean rainwater is an overwhelming experience. While I was checking my sump I saw my neighbour getting his water tanker to fill his sump. I felt one should be ashamed of not harvesting the safest and purest water and depending on subsurface water which would have all kind of toxins in it. In most situations, rain water requires purification for visible impurities and biological impurities by means of a normal UV filter. But the subsurface (borewell) water requires a RO filter in addition to remove the toxins.
The RWH filter that I have installed did its duty of removing all dirt particles and the water appeared just like well water or even cleaner. With such a rain, the water collected in a day could be enough for close to a month! I wish if I had some more extra storage facility to secure all this water.
The very next day I read in the newspaper that in some area there will not be BWSSB water supply for 3 days. And the other news in the same page is about the havoc caused by the heavy rain in many areas including flood. What a contrast!
While the city face severe water shortage and most people worry and blame the BWSSB for failed supply. Very few would have done something to harvest and use the rainwater. In the outskirts of the city I am a happy man without any worries when I read there is no water supply.
On the one hand we let the fresh rain water go down the drain while on the other we face serious water shortage. Individually all of us are responsible for this. Every individual, irrespective of where they live- independent bungalow or apartment, can prevent callous rainwater runoff. A small recharge pit within the compound would be able to percolate a lot of rain water. One could also use the existing sump for collecting the rainwater by using an efficient filter unit. Imagine what the impact of several lakh houses doing this would be! The drainage system will not be overloaded with rainwater and filth that it carries. If government organs like the BBMP could take the initiative in having several protected ground recharge pits along the drainage system that will stop the water from flowing down to the main stormwater drains. Beyond recharging the surface water source such simple design internvetions would also help to avoid flooding in many areas.
If we are serious about solving the water related worries, we must give some focussed attention to Rainwater harvesting. The few thousand rupees that one spends will surely pay its dividends. One need not worry too much about system maintenance as it is not going to be a major hassle. It just requires a nominal care that any such precious resource would demand. Take this from me as somebody who has experienced the joy of being independent (to a great extent) starting with water.

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