Homes and gardens

Recharging the borewell

This essay is a tribute to one man who early in 1980s foresaw the water crisis and took it upon himself to research the traditional water knowledge systems embedded in the dry State of Rajasthan. It had open wells, irrigation ponds and underground ‘tankas’ which survived on the scanty rains, and he felt if that traditional wisdom were to survive, the settlements too would survive.

Anupam Mishra is no more with us; a fact majority of Indians may not care about. When Ramachandra Guha wrote in his tribute to Anupam Mishra that he was among the top five environmental activists of India but was among the least known even among environmentalists, he was very right. The least we can do to remember him is to apply traditional wisdom, wisdoms of the kind Anupam Mishra documented. If we draw water from a source, we should help returning water to it. We cannot reverse all the harm we have done, but we can at least reduce the impact of our harmful acts.

A case in point could be about borewells. All water bodies depend upon catchments and being in the open, get water from direct rain, surface run-off and top soil water retention.

Even if we do not help the water body, the water we have drawn from it returns to it. However, when we recklessly draw water from the underground, which has limited catchment sources, how can it regain the water?

Borewells are drying up the aquifers deep down, resulting in hundreds of dried-up borewells around us. We can let water into them during the rainy season, by directing the surface flow and roof water collected, after appropriate filtering process.

In the direct recharge method, an open well of manageable size, say up to 10 feet deep and diameter, is dug around the casing pipe.

The pipe itself is perforated with a drill machine and the holes are covered by a net, to let water in but not the dirt. The well is now filled with filtering media like sand, gravel, crushed stone, jelly and such others.

When the water is diverted into this well, it gets filtered and seeps into the casing pipe, refilling the bore well.

Indirect method

In the indirect method of recharging, the well is not dug around the casing pipe, but away within 20 feet radius. This well too is filled with filters and has water flow directed in to it, while the casing pipe will have holes covered by netlon. In this case, water flows through the ground, reaches the pipe and seeps in.

It is not preferred to let unfiltered water into the ground, for the contamination found in the surface water will spread into the ground water.

While recharging is most advisable to dry and drying up well with reducing yield, even a running borewell can have recharging in case of surplus surface water which otherwise goes to drains.

With ground water level going down rapidly, there is an urgent need to revive them.

(The writer is an architect working for eco-friendly designs and can be contacted at varanashi@

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 12:02:23 PM |

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