People Tomorrow is World Water Day, and experts, scientists and eco-warriors offer simple solutions to conserve water. Sravasti Datta listens in
We already know the problem. There is an acute water shortage in the city. Most of our lakes have dried up. Ground water levels are abysmally low, besides being contaminated. There is not enough water for the city’s burgeoning population. And we have only two months of water supply left in the city. But it’s not all gloom and doom. There are simple and effective solutions. All we need to do is to take action. Tomorrow is World Water Day and water conservation experts, scientists and eco warriors offer solutions.
“Its simple,” says Vinod Heera Lal Eshwer, whose public service advertisements have earned him awards and recognition. His book for children Let’s Catch The Rain captures the essence of water conservation; of not allowing rain water to go down the drain and catching every bit of it. “There are practical ways of collecting water. Resident welfare associations could construct recharge wells, for instance. He speaks of many other ways to catch the rain: in a sump in your house, in the rooftop or in bottles or even by attaching a few extra pipes in your home.
The story of A.R. Shivakumar is well known. His eco residence Sourabha is completely dependent on rain water. “I haven’t taken water from the BWSSB for the last 18 years,” says the scientist at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science. His methods of water conservation are simple and cost effective. “There are plenty of ways to save and recycle water. Fix all leaking taps in your house. Seventy to 150 litres of water are wasted due to dripping taps.” Shivakumar saves up to 40 per cent water by pumping his washing machine to a separate tank. “I use the soap water from the washing machine for the flush in the bathroom. Water used to wash vegetables goes into watering the garden. All the pots in my house are made of coconut husks. They hold a lot of moisture and the pot lasts for eight to 10 years.” Shivakumar has patents to his name, he speaks of one of his innovations of converting rain water and open well water into clean drinking water. “Inside a clean container I have put a thin pure silver sheet which produces 100 per cent bacteria-free water.”
Overdependence on ground water and municipal supply of water, pumped from the Cauvery River are some major causes for concern. Most of the peripheral areas, particularly East Bangalore, is dependent on ground water. “The ground water is contaminated with fluoride and nitrates” informs Nisreen Ahmed, an architect with a Masters in Infrastructure Planning and a consultant with India Water Portal. She says rain water harvesting, is an effective solution. “You can collect rain water on your rooftops and that can even be used to recharge ground water,” says Nisreen.
Bangalore was once known as the city of lakes. Today, due to commercialisation and urbanisation most of the lakes have dried up.
Vinod speaks of large-scale solutions. “De-silt the lakes. That’s such a simple method. The depth of the lakes isn’t very deep. But if you dig deep enough, water will collect and that will be a step in a positive direction.” Nisreen adds that the existing lakes can be recharged. “There is no system in place for recharging lakes. To recharge lakes you have to understand the catchment area and the slope of the land in surrounding areas. The building of roads has encroached into the catchment areas and so lakes cannot be recharged. But if these factors are taken into consideration, we could recharge our lakes.”
When asked why most of us don’t take water conservation seriously, Vinod says: “We are slaves to our habit of convenience. We should implement workable solutions. .”
Shivakumar says that when something is easily available we don’t understand its worth. Echoing Shivakumar’s sentiments, Nisreen adds: “As long as water flows from our taps we are satisfied. We don’t understand the value of water. But people in Rajasthan understand how precious water is and so have taken steps to conserve water.”