Act smart; use rainwater

CONSERVATION

Water scarcity can be tackled if we make the best use of available resources. Rainwater harvesting is a great option, writes DBN Murthy     

A simple idea can fetch rich dividends. By harvesting rainwater, some of man’s water requirements can be met. Moreover, it’s almost free. It only needs some initial capital investment but can fetch handsome returns within a short span. Eventually, it turns out to be cost-effective since maintenance cost of rainwater harvesting device is less. Much has been talked about the need for rainwater harvesting and about making it mandatory for all residential and commercial buildings. Already some homes as well as government office buildings have included rainwater harvesting in their plan to conserve water. This is a good step which helps in conserving water and is also free and eco-friendly. This method should be adopted both in urban and rural areas.

However, a few precautions are necessary to make rainwater harvesting a success. No doubt, rainwater is free but the infrastructure to store and utilise rainwater is not free.
So, we need to make a one-time investment in the infrastructure. For instance, collected rainwater should be stored either in huge containers or underground sumps after cleaning it by leading the rainwater which is collected through a mesh to prevent large debris. Electric pumps are required to pump water to overhead water tanks. It is important that the surface on which rainwater falls and the runoff is collected, is clean, free of dirt and debris.

The rooftop has to be cleaned regularly so that rainwater can be utilised for washing and gardening. But its potability is not assured unless it’s filtered and treated properly. This is a problem which one must understand and suitable measures need to be taken to tackle this problem. Rainwater harvesting has its limitations. For instance, a vast amount of rainwater cannot be stored due to lack of huge storage spaces. Moreover, the rainwater collected is not potable unless it is treated properly.

Also, the surface water has to seep into the soil and only then will it result in an increase of the ground water table. What can be contained in the underground water source is much larger than what we can store in manmade overhead tanks or sumps. So, concreting in and around a building needs to be planned properly so that enough soil is exposed for rainwater to seep in. A few householders lead the rainwater collected from the roof to a dugout pit or existing well to enable recharge of underground springs.

It would be better if storm water drains are led directly to nearby water bodies so that these serve as aqua-chargers for water springs underneath. A device like pollutant trap could be fit at the exit point of the storm water drains to collect unwanted materials like leaves, paper, plastic and other debris.

These traps should be cleaned regularly and waste disposed of properly. Since this method is hardly followed now, there has been a wastage of rainwater. There is no alternative to rainwater harvesting.

Rainwater can be tapped almost free of cost using the available infrastructure. Apart from a one-time investment and periodical maintenance and clean-up of the rooftop and filter, not much needs to spent on it. Water boards need to see that more households, offices and business establishments adopt rainwater harvesting willingly and enthusiastically. It is better to educate citizens instead of threatening to cut off water supply and sanitary connection.

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