Help pouring in from sky

Help pouring in from sky

Chief minister Sheila Diks­hit recently said she uses ‘half bucket of water for bathing during summer’ and has urged other Delhiites to follow suit. But not just the chief minister, none of us ha­ve to go to that extent to save water if we adopt rainwater harvesting – an effective, efficient and inexpensive answer to the scarcity of water.

Rainwater harvesting is collection and storage of rainwater. This water can be either stored or recharged into the ground water.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has prepared a set of guidelines to help set up rainwater harvesting system in an easy way. “Rainwater harvesting can be done at an independent household level also but in that case storage will be negligible. So for a better result, it should be done at a colony level or a sector level,” says Sushmita Sengupta, Deputy Programme Manager, Water Unit, CSE. The Centre itself has 17 rainwater harvesting structures, the maintenance cost of which is around Rs 1000 annually.

When God gives plenty of water, why should there be a scarcity? Soon, rain may be the only source of clean water. Not only it can help meet the increasing demand, collecting rainwater also improves quality and quantity of ground water. It can also prove beneficial in minimising waterlogging in rainy season. “Many places in Delhi, including organisations, have set up rainwater harvesting which are yielding good results. Ridge is one such place where it has helped in maintaining and rising ground water level,” Sushmita informs.

Many institutions and places like Gymkhana Club, IIT Delhi, Hero Honda factory in Gurgaon, Nizamuddin east and Jamia Hamdard are utilising the stored rainwater for various purposes.

Ruchika Singhal got the system installed of 12,000 litres capacity at her home in Saket in 2004 at the cost of Rs 15,000. The system is a combination of storage and recharge structures for harvesting the rainwater. “We use the stored water mainly for gardening, car washing and floor washing purposes,” says Ruchika. According to CSE, there has been a reported improvement in the ground water level and the yield of neighbours’ tube well.

Despite the government’s efforts and making rainwater harvesting structures compulsory for all buildings with rooftop of more than 100 square meters, it has not been a success as it was targeted. “One of the reasons is there is no monitoring system and the structures are not mechanically sound. Also, the system has been set up but not being take care of, while maintenance is the key for effective rainwater harvesting system,” says Sushmita.

Setting up a rainwater harvesting is not difficult but requires an understanding of hydrology and architecture. As a result most people find it complicated to do it themselves. There are organisations, including Delhi Jal Board (DJB), CSE and Sehgal Foundation in Gurgaon, Central Ground Water Board that set up, monitor and maintain rainwater harvesting.  

Considering the plenty of rain that Delhi receives, if adopted widely, rainwater harvesting system can be an excellent answer to every summer’s water crisis in the City.

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