Residents emphasise local solutions to address water woes

Residents emphasise local solutions to address water woes

Summer is just around the corner and water woes have already gripped Bengalureans. In the past few years, the demand for water has been on rise in most of the areas due to depletion of water table.

An increase in high-rise apartments, townships and villas has led to indiscriminate digging of borewells, depleting groundwater levels. On the other hand, water scarcity has become widespread. To understand the concerns better, DH speaks to residents and water experts.

Ayyappa M Masagi, founder, Water Literacy Foundation, says, 15-20 years back, rainfall was periodic, giving the soil surface sufficient time to percolate the rainwater into the sub soil. “Gradually, the city drifted towards rapid industrialisation and boom in real estate industry, led to the encroachment of lakes by the builders,” he explains.

Bengaluru founder Kempegowda had constructed 382 lakes. Only a few survive. The government, he says, is spending money only on drilling new borewells but is not concerned about sustaining the water table from where the borewells draw water.

If the trend of ‘Only use and no recharge’ continues then our future generation would be left with only sea or ocean water, he warns. To address the water crisis, Masagi suggests roof rainwater harvesting (RWH). “This is a simple way of channelising, filtering and collecting rainwater as an alternative to river, openwells and borewell water. By RWH, we can reduce pressurised load on existing water supply,” he says.

Another solution is to recharge the borewell or open well. Lake construction and replenishment are ideal for those who have huge rainwater catchment area. “After years of research on lakes, I recommend government that there should be a one-acre lake for every 100 acres to bring back the golden days when openwells, rivers and streams were always full.”

Water usage during summer is naturally high, says Pushpa Thomas, a resident of Indiranagar. In summer, there is more heat, more dust and sweat. So bathing sometimes even twice a day becomes a basic requirement, she adds.

Water supply twice a week for shorter duration has resulted in a scarcity. “Water tankers are an answer, but the quality of water is always suspect. Here, the rates for tankers vary. Some charge Rs 600 for 6,000 litres others up to Rs 1,200. The rates peak when demand is more. Some people have monopoly. They decide the rates. But unless there is another option private tankers are here to stay,” Pushpa feels.

She laments that people sink borewells up to 1,500 ft deep, unscientifically. “Groundwater exploitation has made the water level go down. Maybe recharging the groundwater would bring it up. The quantity of water stored from rains is finite, whereas the usage is increasing day-by-day,” she notes.

Priya Desai, Consultant, India Water Portal, feels the government should start looking at local solutions such as RWH, community efforts to rejuvenate lakes across the city and to recharge groundwater to address the water issue.

These localised solutions, she says, can work on a long-term basis. “We need to break away from the centralised dependence on water because the government is not able to manage it judiciously.”

The government brings Cauvery river water from 100 km away, but the annual rainfall that we get is actually enough. “It is sad to know that we are not able to harvest the rain that can last for the whole year. I feel that like-minded people should come together and encourage the community efforts than depending on the government to act upon the issue,” says Priya.

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