Let’s not forget summer when it rains like heaven!

Thinking about the water crisis we faced, when we enjoy rains, is the first step to ensuring we don't face such situation in future.

Were you among those who frequently complained during summer- “Oh! This is the hottest summer I have ever seen..”? True. Rain gods weren’t kind on the city last summer. The increased demand for water had shot up the water price in the market.

Now it is a great relief that our water problem is gone. Rains have brought down the temperature and we, until the next summer, tend to forget all the inconveniences we had during the last summer.

It is essential to wake up before the situation goes out of control again and a severe water crisis arises in the next summer. Now that the monsoon rains are hitting the earth, shouldn’t we be thinking about our role in mitigating water crisis in the city?

Whom to blame – drainage system, or rains?

After a hot sunny day, when dark clouds start forming in the sky, we Bangaloreans get worried. Many times even if we need rain badly, we do not look forward to it given the chaos the first rain creates, such as water logs on the roads, uprooting of trees and traffic jam.

But do we ever think how much of water goes wasted from each rain? Also, do we ever care how much water the drainpipes of our houses feed into the already overflowing gutters? Rainwater already on the roads, coupled with the water from the gutters makes the roads look like a river. There are even cases where houses in low‑lying areas have suffered because of flood inside the houses. We either being the victims of this chaos or after looking at the next day’s newspaper, blame the poor drainage system of the city.

Store water when it rains

It is true that the city has a poor drainage system, but we can make an attempt to prevent this chaos to some extent by rainwater harvesting and ground water recharging. On an average, Bangalore receives 970 mm rainfall per year. Imagine if all houses and office buildings install the system of storing rainwater from their rooftops. How much water that otherwise would run on the roads would be stored in the sump? With that, we can enjoy the rains without worrying about the after effects of it and simultaneously can reap the benefits. There will not be a dilemma whether to wish or not to wish for the rain!

Some of us think it is a hassle to install the rainwater harvesting system and is difficult to maintain, and might eventually step back from the idea. But the truth is, all this rooftop water harvesting costs are PVC pipes and a filter which uses charcoal and sand. Of course you have the sump in your compound anyways.

The technique is simple – rainwater falling on the rooftop comes down along the pipes, passes through the filter and gets stored in the sump. The houses which have installed this system have found it wonderful, because they can keep the BWSSB water supply valve closed for many days in a year. Alternatively there will not be any need to order for water tankers whenever there is no Cauvery water supply.

Groundwater recharging – cannot be simpler!

There is also a tendency among us to cement the entire area in our compounds, which means, not even a drop of rain that falls in our compound gets into the land, but runs off to the gutter. Let us first understand that keeping the area uncemented is not uncivilised.

The best thing to do is, to feed the groundwater aquifers in our compound itself rather than letting the water run out. There are a few people in the city who have been already doing this using a very simple technique.

All they have done is – dig a pit (approximately 10 feet deep, 2 feet wide) in a corner of the compound, fill it with pebbles or jelly stones and sand layer by layer, and let all the rainwater in the compound to go and seep into this pit. If one owns a borewell, it is one’s foremost responsibility to recharge the groundwater.

Reducing the demand for water tankers

It is a thriving business in the city, especially during summer, to fill the tanker with water either from bore wells or from lakes and to sell it. It is essential to understand that if we go on extracting ground water through bore wells, it would exhaust soon.

This is evident if we look at the number of bore wells that have gone dry and also the depth one needs to go to get the water while drilling a bore well. Moreover, as the lakes in Bangalore are dying a slow death due to water and land mafia, there is very little chance for natural ground water recharging.

Since rejuvenating the lakes and preventing land and water mafia are the responsibilities of the government, let us decide to do whatever we could do. If we bring down the demand for water tankers by rainwater harvesting, we would indirectly reduce water mafia and thereby help the sustainability of lakes.

Unfortunately, the compulsion about the rainwater harvesting programme introduced by the government has succumbed to the bureaucratic set‑up in the city. But if citizens realise the necessity for rainwater harvesting and ground water recharging, the spoilt bureaucratic set‑up could be set right. We should realise that both government rules and bureaucratic arrangements are immaterial for us to feel responsible towards environmental conservation.

Zenrainman S Vishwanath, well‑known for water conservation and management, says: “If all the houses in Bangalore start harvesting rainwater, there will not be any water shortage, else, there is definitely going to be a water crisis shortly”.

Abundant information how’s and why’s on rainwater harvesting by S. Vishwanath can be found on YouTube and on his website http://www.rainwaterclub.org. Information is just a mouse click away, but what is needed is our mindset change!

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RWH in a layout: Residents are water managers

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