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Updated: May 25, 2012 20:25 IST

Preparing for the monsoon rains

S. Vishwanath
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For those who have connected the rooftop to sumps, it is time to clean up the roof, pipes and filters and the sump itself and be ready to collect the bounty. Go the Thrissur ‘Mazhapolima' way, advises water expert S. Vishwanath

As the bus stopped on the way to Thrissur in Kerala it was at the famous Palghat Gap, the only break in the Western Ghats where the elevation drops to 300 metres. It is from this gap that monsoon winds rush in to reach mainland India from the coast.

The pre-monsoon clouds assisted by the wind were rushing through as though to set up appointments for the rest of India with the real monsoon on its way. The Indian Metrological Department predicts that the monsoon will arrive on the coast of Kerala at its appointed day, June 1, give or take a few days. It is time therefore to prepare to receive the monsoon.

The next 60 to 120 days is when the country will receive its annual quota of water in the form of rain. In the district of Thrissur with a large number of dug-wells, a programme called ‘Mazhapolima' has been running for some years.

Households, whose wells go dry in summer or who have iron and salt in their well water, are assisted in picking rooftop rainwater, filtering it and leaving it to the wells.

This simple and economical technique recharges the aquifers, improves the well water level and changes the quality of the water, making it drinkable. Wells here have a tendency to go dry during the summer months of February, March and April.

With the ‘Mazhapolima' approach however, any pre-monsoon shower is not allowed to go waste and is captured to recharge the well. Many families reported the benefits of the scheme.

Simple rooftop method

Kerala has over 6.60 million wells according to a study conducted as early as 2007. This makes it the highest density of wells in the world. With a simple method of rooftop rainwater harvesting, keeping the roof clean, providing a simple filter and leading the rainwater into the wells, water security can be ensured for the whole year.

This would be a fitting way to receive the monsoon this year too especially in areas where wells are prone to become dry or have bad quality water.

Simple precautions include keeping a fine net on the well to prevent leaves from falling in and from mosquitoes breeding.

It is the same for other places too. All borewells can do a ‘Mazhapolima' and connect the rainwater through a filter to the casing, thereby recharging it. This is the time to get the work done for the bounty of rain will come now.

Get prepared

For those who have connected the rooftop to sumps, it is good to clean up the roof, the pipes and the filters and the sump itself and be ready to collect the bounty.

Storm-water drains need to be ready to receive the downpours and direct them to de-silted lakes. Watersheds have to be kept ready too to conserve both water and soil as locally as possible.

This is India's biggest project, connecting the sky to the land, ensuring that every drop of water is collected or recharged and the thirst of the land is sated plus something held back for the future dry months.

It is even bigger than any inter-linking of rivers. It is called rainwater harvesting. In this every one of us can be a participant and not a spectator.

Playing an active role in collecting and storing rainwater is displaying water wisdom.

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