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Lessons in rainwater harvesting

Ganadhalu Srikanta, May 7, 2013, DHNS :
EVERY DROP MATTERS.The school campus at Bangalore.Photos by the author.

Students at the Vagdevi Educational Institution’s schools in unnekolalu, Varthur and Bidadi have a first-hand understanding of how rain water is conserved all thanks to the steps taken in their schools to save every drop.             

“Water is Nature’s wonderful gift, the life essence of all creatures on planet earth. Harvesting rain water is the only solution to check the depletion of groundwater. Come, let us collect rain water, channelise it into the ground and find a solution to a growing problem. Let us begin from today...”

The board at the entrance of Vagdevi Educational Institution at Munnekolalu near Marathalli, Bangalore says it all. The walls of the school compound have many such slogans written all over to educate not just its students but visitors as well and create awareness about water scarcity. Water conservation here is not limited to just classroom learning. Several water conservation structures in the school premises are testimony to the efforts that have gone into making a budding society water-literate.


Situated in 10 acres of land, the school has installed rainwater harvesting equipment in four of its buildings. A vast network of pipes connects the roofs of these buildings and allows the collected rainwater to flow down smoothly. Tanks built underground store lakhs of litres of water. One acre out of the 10 is utilised for roads, two acres for school buildings and three acres each for a stadium, a park and lawn respectively. The remaining one acre is left untouched. The canal system adopted is such that raindrops, wherever they fall, seep into percolation pits, percolation wells and underground tanks. Not a single drop of rain can go waste without the express permission of the school authorities! For, these water conservators can be found all around the school.

There are eight percolation pits, 10 percolation wells and about 20 feet of water is collected underground in each pit. Similar amount of water is collected in the percolation wells. This water can be re-used; additional water seeps into the ground. “We have been harvesting rainwater for the last 10 years, when we started our school. We depend on mainly rain water for six-eight months in a year. About five-eight lakh litres of rainwater seeps inside the ground each year and we use around two to three lakh litres,” says K Harish, chairperson of the institution.

“Now, there is more water available for the garden and the borewells are rejuvenated. Even in summer, there is water.” It is surprising that there is about four ft of water even in the two open wells in the school ground, he says.

Practical learning

Vagdevi Educational Institution has schools in Munnekolalu, Varthur and Bidadi. Thousands of students, from nursery to Plus II, study in these schools that have adopted rainwater harvesting. The equipment and structures are not just for collecting, filtering and storing rainwater but are also useful aids to teachers who impart lessons about conserving a precious but limited resource to their wards. Children are first given details about water conservation. Then they are taken to the percolation pits and wells, where they are given a practical demonstration about the various methods and types of rainwater harvesting.

Each year, there are lectures, essay and quiz competitions held on the subject as well. “We observe Environment Week twice every year. All our school magazines and prospectus carry information that try to create awareness about conserving water. We encourage our children about judiciously using drinking water, our surroundings and reducing plastic usage by u sing paper covers,” says school vice-principal Sridharaiah. Magsaysay award winner and water man Rajendra Singh always says awareness about water should begin in schools. And Vagdevi Educational Institution is already doing its bit. Several students of this school are creating awareness about conserving water among parents and neighbours.

Some of them have taken up rainwater harvesting at home and are proud to share it with their friends and teachers. “Our goal is to increase awareness about the environment among children. Apart from their certificates, the biggest takeaway for children leaving our school should be a sense of responsibility towards the environment. This sense should reach all corners of society. We have taken a good step in this direction,” says Harish.

A green lover, Harish started Vagdevi Educational Institution to “provide an environment-friendly school experience”. Newspaper articles on water conservation caught his attention and led to the installation of rainwater harvesting structures in his schools. “I was inspired by Shree Padre’s articles to set up this wonderful campus,” says a beaming Harish, who got the journalist-activist to inaugurate the underground sump with a holding capacity of two lakh litres of rainwater in the school premises.

(Translated by B S Srivani)            

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