The Water Crisis and Your Role

 In Community, Sustainability

The afternoon sun simmers as Shanti waits in line to fill up her bucket of water. The heat is making her head swirl. She’s been in this line for the fourth time in two weeks. The line has grown exponentially and has now crossed over multiple streets. Numerous tankers carrying water have come and gone and the lines haven’t got any smaller. It’s been two years without rainfall and the water tables are getting lower each day.

Her city was once known for its lakes and gardens and now all taps in the city have gone bone dry. Farmers in neighboring villages have either left their parched fields and moved to the city, adding to growing pressure on the city’s resources, or have killed themselves over the drought and the subsequent debts.

The city has almost shut down because of the crisis. Schools have closed so that children wouldn’t use public water or fall ill at their premises.  Small arguments over places in line and the rationing of water are now causing violent skirmishes and even deaths. Businesses are closing their shutters because of the riots and arson. All wells and water tanks in the city are now owned by the government and protected by the army.

This may come across as a scene from a dystopian novel set into the far-off future, but the truth is that most of these are actual situations that have taken place in multiple cities all across the country.

As of 2018, six Indian states are involved in battles over the river waters of the Yamuna in the north, the Narmada in the midwest and the Cauvery in the south. Other state governments are also involved in legal quagmires over sharing of water resources. Meanwhile, India is also dealing with Pakistan and Bangladesh over water usage. And if you thought Goa is safe from water problems, we’ve been in a legal battle with Karnataka over water from the Mandovi for over three decades.

According to a World Bank report, at least 21 Indian cities are moving towards zero groundwater level by 2020. That is two years from now. No, this is not fear-mongering, the water crisis is here, and it’s time we address it.

Most people in India have long taken potable water for granted. The country has been blessed with the abundance of rivers and fresh-water lakes. However rapid and unsustainable development and mismanagement have meant that we are fast depleting one of the most important natural resources. Today, the hunt for a water source and its sustainability is a big concern. One of the solutions for water crisis is capturing of rainwater through rainwater harvesting.

Rainwater harvesting is the most effective method of water conservation. It is used to collect and store rainwater for use by humans, animals, agriculture, and industries. The rainwater in this process is collected at the surface before it is lost as surface run-off. The ground-water is then recharged artificially through the process. This is the most useful method for a developing country like India, where there is a huge gap in demand and supply of fresh water while also reducing the cost of transportation and treatment of water for use.

Collecting rain-water at home doesn’t require expensive equipment or technology. Most homes will be able to build their own set-up using common household items. Harvesting rainwater will help in not only cutting down costs but also bring down the dependency on precious groundwater. Here are some easy ways to harvest rainwater at home!

(Source – The Better India)

  1. Install a Rain Barrel


The easiest way to harvest rain is through a rain barrel (make your own from a large trash can or an old drum) linked to a pipe fitted to collect rainwater from the rooftop and verandah of the house.To prevent the barrel from becoming a mosquito breeding ground, fasten a tight-fitting top to it, and screen the ends of the downspouts leading into the barrels. Or simply add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the stored rainwater. It coats the water’s surface and kills larvae by depriving them of oxygen.

2. Create a Rain Garden


A rain garden is a sunken landscape that uses native plants, local soil, and mulch to remove pollutants from water, and allows it to percolate into the ground. It’s easy to create, looks good all year-round and has a positive impact on the environment. Here’s how to make a rain garden in your own backyard.


3. Make your own DIY Rain Chain


Rain chains are not only beautiful, simple to make requiring few tools and materials, but also a more attractive alternative to standard PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe downspouts. This fun, fashionable and environment-friendly accessories help avoid the runoff by transporting rainwater from the collecting pipe downwards to a drain or to a storage container. Check out the instructions for DIY rain chains here and decide which one would look great in your home!

4. Naturally, recharge your wells and borewells


Rooftop rainwater is led through pipes with a filter at the end to open dug wells for replenishing underground aquifers. Based on this idea, the ‘Mazhapolima’ (bounty of rain) Recharge Project of Thrissur was born. As a result, today, not only is there abundant water in summer, there is also reduced salinity, turbidity, and color in the well water.

A recharge pit for borewells is also a good idea as it pushes back the surface water into the groundwater system. Usually, a recharge pit is one meter in diameter and six meters deep, lined with concrete rings having perforations. These perforations let filtered and de-silted water seep from the sides increasing the groundwater table.

5. Set up a Splash Block


Setting up a splash block is a great idea to divert the flowing rainwater away from the structure’s foundation. It is a piece of concrete or plastic of a roughly rectangular shape and is placed below the downspout that carries rainwater from the roof of a house during rainfall. It absorbs the force of the water that is getting diverted from the roof and also prevents holes from being dug in the garden due to the eroding force of the pouring water. Here’s how to make one yourself.

6. Build a Rain Saucer

If you are looking for a fast DIY way to collect rainwater without much hassle, rain saucers form a great free standing rain collection system which fills up surprisingly fast. Looking like an upside-down umbrella, the rain saucer unfolds to form a funnel which fills the containers with rainwater. Since this easy-to-deploy system catches rain straight from the sky, it also decreases the chances of contamination. Here’s how you can make one.

7. A Reservoir for Rain


Rainwater that falls on the rooftop, is it flat or slanting, can be made to run through a pipe to a storage facility like a sump or a tank. This water can be filtered to purify the larger particles before being stored in rainwater harvest (RWH) tanks. By using stored rainwater for washing cars and watering gardens, the use of underground water can be minimized. A win-win system for economy and environment, this also helps in saving energy and keeps the energy bill to a minimum.

Note: All text and images from How To Harvest Rainwater is taken from The Better India

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