Sunday, August 17, 2008

Its Raining

All these years that I have been listening about ‘rainwater harvesting’ and its wonders! I felt it was complicated, costly and crazy(!) I saw pictures of a pit with a pipe jutting out with some platitudes written alongside stating that water was becoming a scarce commodity in the time to come and that we needed to conserve water. I felt I needed to do something but did not know what to do, and worse, where to start. In the absence of answers to these two basic questions I ended up doing nothing – other than feeling guilty, that is!

All of us now know and understand the following: that the Earth is 70% water; our bodies are 2/3 water and fresh water is only about 3% of the total water available on the Earth. Furthermore, if we draw ground water without recharging it then the groundwater supply is exhausted and of course, seawater is not fit for consumption. In summation, if all of us consume, then WHO is in charge of conservation and regeneration of that precious, scarce, fast-depleting commodity, water.

Also too, all these years I was made to believe that this task is to be done by the government. But isn’t the government composed of people who themselves are consumers? Does this not lead us to a Catch-22 situation?

Conservation and regeneration is every consumer’s job; like say, saving a part of our salary so that we may use it in time of need. The paramount question then becomes, how do I conserve water?

Here are some simple rules which all of us can follow:

Rule 1 : Reduce the use of water. If you take a shower twice a day, try to use a bucket in the evening bath because a bucket bath uses less water. If you use one bucket to take a bath, use 2 mugs less. If you have a habit of washing your car everyday with a hosepipe, do so every other day and reduce the washing time from 15 minutes to 5 – better still, use a bucket and cloth to clean your vehicle. A wet cloth is able to take the toughest mud stains from the surface.

Rule 2 : Reuse water. Rinse water from washing of clothes can be used to swob floors, wash cars and verandas etc. Water from washing vegetables and dals can be used for watering the flowerpots and lawns.

Rule 3 : Recycle water. Catch rainfall in buckets, use water from the kitchen and washbasin to recharge groundwater etc.

All the rules come into operation only when we first decide on a simple question: “DO WE CARE”? When we care we cannot afford to ask the question “Why should I save water when the whole world around is wasting water”, OR “ Why should I, I can afford to pay for the water I use.” It the same thing about caring for a loved one, I don’t say “a lot of loved ones are dying in the various wars fought around the world so why should I care for my loved one” OR “ I can always get another loved one if I lose this one so why should I worry.”

When we CARE then we can certainly find ways to implement the above three rules.

There is another argument that I hear from a lot of educated housewives or homemakers. “ I want to save water but what can I do, my maid does not listen to me and she is the one who washes verandas everyday and it is sahib’s chowkidar who washes the car everyday.” Once a neighbour of mine used the same argument and I asked her with a smile “ If she does not listen to you why don’t you replace her?After all your are the master of the house and you pay her to do your work. If the servant does what she deems fit then how do you qualify yourself as the owner?”

Coming back to our rules. Rule 3 regarding recycling excites me the most where I have a chance to actively regenerate water into the system. There are various ways to regenerate the system.

If you own a House:

One very crude and effective method is to have as much unpaved surface (kuccha or grassed area) as possible. Unpaved surfaces soak water and rainwater can easily be soaked into the kuccha ground.

More effective and professional way is to go for a rainwater harvesting system. Rainwater can be harvested both from the rooftop of your house and paved/unpaved surface of the house. For example, for rooftop harvesting, the formula is, area of catchment (area of rooftop) * average annual rainfall of the city * runoff coefficient (0.8 or 80% of the water running off can be caught). Thus for a 100 sq meter rooftop * 1000 mm rainfall * 0.8 leads to 80 cubic meter or 80000 liters of water that can be harvested. This harvested water can either be stored in a tank or diverted to recharge the underground aquifer through a recharge well. Thumb rule for deciding whether to store or recharge depends on the number of rainy days. As a rule if there are more rainy days then storage is a better option. Thus for Gurgaon, recharge is a better option but you can always choose to store rather than recharge.

So ask this question “Do I care?” if you do go right ahead and do something. This year we anyway have a lot of rain that forces us to answer this in the affirmative.

1 comment:

mili said...

Yes sir,we do care and we will make a change infact we are changing already.