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Can Rainwater Harvesting save Bengaluru from a Water Crisis?

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Bengaluru has water bodies either in the form of lakes or large tanks, but these were created for the purpose of water usage by citizens way back in the 16th century. The lakes also have a local hydrologic system that keeps the lakes from drying up and makes them great sources of water during the dry season. This system of water bodies also ensures that there is good groundwater replenishment. But this was a system that was enough for the citizen a few centuries ago, today the lakes are being drained dry due to the increase in population in the city. Destruction of lakes started in the 1980s, with dry lakes being converted into homes and offices instead of being revived. A few lakes have been killed with sewage flowing into them from households and industries. Noticing this damaging trend, NGOs along with the government are hard at work to revive and sustain the lakes and ensure that they are not destroyed in this manner. But these efforts are slow and the progress is not at pace with which new residents are pouring into the city every day.

There is a doomsday prediction that Bengaluru will run out of water by 2025. The city limits have extended in all directions. There are areas which do not have supply from the municipal corporation for water or proper sewage connections. At a time when there is a tremendous stress on the water supply system – the local body had advised all homes to retro-fit rainwater harvesting systems. Despite the dire situation and advice from the local body, there was a report in June 2019 that stated that 64,464 homes today do not have rainwater harvesting facilities in Bengaluru. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) says that the Rainwater Harvesting system is compulsory for all buildings and it is applicable for both residential and commercial. The warning of penalties also hasn't spurred citizens into action.

This attitude has made many residential communities dependent on private tankers and deep borewells for water. This unfortunately can only be a temporary arrangement and cannot be a long term solution.

Why RWH?

RWH system can save Bengaluru from its looming water crisis. This summer, already the city was reeling under a water crisis situation with many parts of the city receiving water once in 5 days. Using borewells for a prolonged period of time will deplete the groundwater and eventually the borewell will run dry as the consumption will not match the groundwater replenishment.

RWH is a long term and sustainable method of ensuring that water is preserved and conserved for the dry summers. Monsoon is a great time to collect large quantities of water and this water is fresh and does not need excessive treatment to make it potable or drinkable.

The groundwater table can be replenished through the lakes but for this, the dependence on groundwater needs to be reduced. By using the rainwater harvested water and making groundwater only a secondary supply source of water, residents can save themselves a lot of grief during the dry season. The city water supply system can be the tertiary water supply point in many places thus reducing the dependence on utilities provided by the city, that are only getting more expensive every day.

RWH must become a choice and not just installed to satisfy a rule. The long-term benefits and the low cost of implementation are the biggest drivers for implementation of this system. Bengaluru can save itself from water crisis if all its citizens participate in creating RWH systems in their homes, offices, schools and factories.

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