Tomorrow is World Water Day. Experts and eco-warriors offer simple solutions to conserve water

Today is World Water Day. A good time to take account of our rapidly dying rivers, drying wells and falling water tables. An acute water shortage in the city is evident. Pipe bursts are only one of the many reasons why our taps are running out of water. Summer has accentuated the problem of water scarcity in the city and its suburbs. Water tankers rushing water to many areas in the suburbs have become a common sight. With the monsoon playing truant, it is high time we took stock of the water situation before it is too late. Water warriors, architects and experts say that simple steps can save our water resources from getting depleted. After all tiny drops of water make the mighty ocean.

With missionary zeal V. Subash Chandra Bose, Director, Communication Capacity Development Unit, under the Water Resources Department, says that if the Government, like our neighbouring state Tamil Nadu, insists on water harvesting for every household, it would dramatically change the situation in Kerala. “We get rain for approximately for 110 days. That is more than enough for us. Till a few decades ago, there were plenty of paddy fields, wetland, ponds and wells that stored the water. But now, surface run-off (that is water that drains into the sea without seeping into the ground) has increased significantly on account of tarring of roads and filling of fields. There has been a change in the quality and quantity of water. Hence it is imperative to conserve rain water.”

This water warrior points that he himself has installed rain water harvesting facilities in several households in the city. For as little as Rs. 3,000 or below, tanks can be installed in a house. “This is not as an alternative to Kerala Water Authority (KWA) but to supplement it.”

The government has made rain water harvesting mandatory for houses that are above 100 sq. m. “Thus, provision has been made for all the houses that we have built for our clients,” says P.B. Sajan, director of The Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (Costford). He adds that rain water harvesting and rain water recharging are two ways of replenishing and conserving water. His house at Powdikonam, for instance, has no water connection from KWA.

Sajan explains that huge water tanks are built beneath the room of a house to store rain water. This cuts down the cost and optimises the use of space too. “I have made provisions for water harvesting and water recharging by constructing a rain pit. It cost only Rs. 35,000 to build a water tank that can store about 20,000 litres of water,” explains Sajan.

Agreeing with him architect G. Shankar emphasises that it is water recharging that can really make a difference. “Digging rain pits near wells can increase the water table. Miraculous changes have been observed and even dry wells have suddenly been filled with sweet water when rain pits were dug.”

Aware that water conservation has to be a community process, Sajan sensitised his neighbours to go in for water recharging to replenish their water level and sure enough most of his neighbours were thrilled to observe the change in their wells. “Many people try to prevent rain water from the roads entering their households but we try to channelise the water into our plots for this is an excellent way to increase the water table.”

After all every drop counts in the battle to save water.

(V. Subash Chandra Bose can be contacted at 98475 47881)