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Panel seeks long-term solutions to water problems

Niveditha Jain and PN, Nov 25, 2012

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has started exploring alternative sources of water as the City will continue to face a scarcity because of its growing population.

The Board has constituted an expert committee to look into ways to procure water from other sources. While the City is all set to receive about 1,400 million litres of water every day from the Cauvery in December, a study has discovered that it will not meet future demands.

A short-term solution proposed by the committee is to rejuvenate the Arkavathy catchment area, which will help restore the original supply of 180 million litres of water per day and also increase the supply to 250 million litres a day.

Among its long-term plans, the committee proposes to divert the west-flowing rivers, Netravathi and Hemavathi, which could yield another 10 tmc of water. There are also plans to supply water from the Tungabhadra or the Krishna river.

The proposals have been strongly criticised by other water experts, who categorised the BWSSB’s recommendations to divert rivers and draw water from faraway rivers, as uneconomical and harmful to the environment.

Instead, the experts suggested that designated stormwater drains be used to collect rainwater, which is to be treated before it is distributed to consumers. They also recommended that unauthorised connections in the City be regularised so as to curb water wastage and pilferage.

Cauvery water insufficient

The Cauvery IV stage, II phase project may ease water problems in a few areas of Bangalore, but many others will continue to face water shortage and remain dependent on private tankers. Specialists said that in this scenario, only those practising water conservation measures such as rainwater harvesting (RWH) and recycling, will be in a position to address their problems.

According to A R Shivakumar, principal investigator of RWH at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science, the water crisis crippling several areas of Bangalore today can be brought under control if precautionary steps are taken by residents to save rainwater.

“Everyone knows about rainwater harvesting, but only a few individuals have adopt the system in their homes. People will never instal the equipment to save rainwater unless they are forced to do so. Things will take a turn for the worse if people do not start conserving water as it has become a limited commodity,” he said.

Government initiative

To encourage rainwater harvesting, the BWSSB had made it mandatory for properties measuring 1,200 sq ft and above to instal RWH systems — effective from November 2009. The ruling had little effect. 

Shivakumar explained that the government now needs to enact strict policies regarding the installation of RWH systems.

S Vishwanath, founder of the Rainwater Club, says that people should stop wasting water unnecessarily and instead use it only when it is required. One simple way to conserve water is by storing rainwater and recharging the water table, he explained.

“People know about rainwater harvesting methods but are not adopting them for various reasons — even though the government has already made it mandatory for some properties to adopt RWH. A change has to come from among the public rather than indulging in blame game and crying for water.

Currently, the number of homes with RWH systems is low. In the coming years at least, I hope the number grows,” he said.


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