Archive for February, 2011


Press Information Bureau release on rainwater harvesting in India

February 27, 2011
Steps to Create Awareness about Rainwater Harvesting And Encouragement to States for Implementation of Rainwater Harvesting Projects


The Parliament has been informed that as per report of the National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development (NCIWRD-1999), the mean annual rainfall, taking the country as a whole is 1,170 mm with wide regional variation. Giving this information in written reply to a question in theLok Sabha today on the average annual rainfall and rainwater harvesting, ShriSalman Khurshid, Minister of Water Resources, said that rain water is harvested through surface storages and recharge of ground water. The total storage capacity created through major and medium projects is around 225BCM.  The data on quantum of rainwater harvested through groundwater recharging is 433 BCM.  Ministry of Water Resources does not maintain the data on quantum of water harvested due to manmade structures separately.   It is estimated that the water utilized in 2010 is about 681 BCM. 

Shri Khurshid informed the House that as water is a State subject, it is primarily the responsibility of the State Government to plan, fund and to execute rainwater harvesting schemes.  However, the Union Government has taken following steps to create awareness and to encourage States to implement rainwater harvesting projects:

  • Demonstrative Projects on Rain Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge to Ground Water with an outlay of 100 crore during 11th Plan.
  • Sanctioned two schemes for Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies, one with external assistance with central outlay of Rs. 1,500 crore; and the other one with central outlay of Rs. 1,250 crore.
  • Organized 384 mass awareness campaigns on Rain Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge of ground water throughout the country under the Central Plan schemes namely ‘Ground Water Management & Regulation’ and ‘Information Education and Communication (IEC)’ of the Ministry of Water Resources and National Ground Water Congress during 2007 and2010.
  • Circulation of the Master Plan for artificial recharge of ground water to the States/UTs in the year 2002.
  • Launching of Ground Water Information System for dissemination of ground water related information to all stake holders including users in March 2010.
  • Advised the States to make rainwater harvesting mandatory.  In pursuance thereof, 18 States and 4 UTs have made rain water harvesting mandatory under building bye-laws.
  • Issuance of directions by the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) to Chief Secretaries in 12 States and Administrators in 2 Union Territories having over-exploited blocks to take all necessary measures to promote/ adopt artificial recharge to ground water/ rain water harvesting.
  • Issuing of directions by CGWA to all the Residential Group Housing Societies/ Institutions/Schools/ Hotels/ Industrial Establishments falling in the over-exploited and critical areas (Except in the water logged areas) in the country to adopt Roof Top Rain Water harvesting systems in their premises.
  • Issuing of directions by CGWA to Heads of Central Road Research Institute, National Highway Authority of India, Central Public Works Department, Railway Board, Sports Authority, Airports Authority of India, Civil Aviation, Youth Affairs & Sports to implement the Scheme of Ground Water Recharge along all National/State Highways and other roads, railway tracks and other establishments of Railways, all stadia and airports.



Earth Architecture – Treating water wisely

February 26, 2011


Building with earth is a great way to understand nature and the material it provides . If we harvest rain we get in touch with nature as rain. If we treat waste water we get in touch with nature as a bio-degrader.

A great way to have fun, learn and be part of the solution.


Integrated Urban Water Management – India

February 25, 2011


My previous post was on Water Sensitive Cities , the ultimate aim the world over. Very few cities have reached this holy grail, Singapore perhaps is one but its embodied energy and carbon emission per kilo-litre of water is still high.

In the Indian context the first priority would be to get the institutions and staff right. Unless we have capable institutions and skilled capacity even planning correctly for a combined water and sewerage scheme would be difficult. A municipality charged with the responsibility and with 1 or 2 Asst Engineers can hardly be expected to do justice except for maintenance of the system and trouble shooting.

At the very least the staffing should include a hydro-geologist, a environmental engineer, a community organiser and an electrical engineer.

Small towns in India will be dependent on groundwater as a major supplement and therefore a framework of manging groundwater including a legal framework will be important.

The GOALS for IUWM are clear

– Universal access to water and sanitation for all in the city/town.

– sustainable management of groundwater and surface water bodies in the town.

– a legal system or a rights based system which does not deny a connection simply on the basis of property rights.

– a pro-poor policy which helps get a connection for all including breaking the initial connection cost barrier.

Another challenge for IUWM would be to involve the citizenry as part of the solution say for example in helping them maintain their open wells and recharge it so that they lessen the burden on the mains system.

More on IUWM as a I blog.


Water sensitive cities in the Indian context

February 24, 2011


Water Sensitive Cities


In the hierarchy in which a city moves as regards its water management a water sensitive city is the ultimate goal. Along the path a city has to first become a water supply city where piped water reaches most if not all of the population, a sewered city where sanitation facilities reach a vast majority of the population such that public health and hygiene are no longer issues, a drained city where all storm water is adequately handled so as not to allow vector borne diseases to prevail or for flooding to occur, a waterways city where the aesthetics of water such as rivers and lakes become points of recreation and bio-diversity for the citizens to enjoy and the step before becoming a water sensitive city is a water cycle city where the entire urban hydrological cycle is managed sustainably with as low a footprint as possible. ( After A/Prof Rebekah BrownAdj Prof Mark Pascoe – Transitioning to water sensitive cities )

A water sensitive city would ensure high quality of water 24/7 to all its citizens, assured sanitation, well maintained water bodies and ground water with no pollution and a well-managed drainage system so as to eliminate flooding and be self-sufficient for its water needs through processes of recycling and reusing water , managing rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge.

In the case of Bangalore for example, the city will have to straddle all options at the same time as it grapples with myriad problems around water. Some issues are at a meta level and therefore escape the limelight. Do we have the right institution say for example to manage all our waters? Is there enough skill set to engage with all problems, plan accordingly with a vision and then translate the plan to action?

Take groundwater for example, in the absence of any legal framework and institutions to manage it carefully for the community a free for all reigns. People sink bore wells all over the place and commercial operators exploit the scarcity of water in the market and sell water of dubious quality and source to the people at large. Nearly half of the city’s water supply may actually be coming from bore-wells from essentially private sources. Water in the city has already been commoditised and privatised with no control or regulation.  A water sensitive city will need to put in place a framework of management which will ensure sustainable and equitous use of the resource.

Take the artificial lakes or tanks in the city as another example. In the absence of a catchment management plan and any form of control on the drains bringing water to these tanks, managing it seems to take the role of a civil engineering endeavour sans rhyme or reason. In a water sensitive city the tanks would have a multifarious role such as recharge of groundwater, flood management, a recreational space , an ecological space, a space to receive and manage flood waters and a rainwater harvesting place not to mention a space for receiving treated waste water.

Universal access and equity is another failure. While the well-off access piped water and piped sewerage the poor who pay the most for both have to make to do with limited water of dubious quality. Access to sanitation remains a mirage and floods are endemic in low lying areas in any rainfall event.  A water sensitive city would give universal access to water and sanitation as a human right and ensure adequate drainage so that there shelters are not subject to the vagaries of rain. Pricing of water would ensure access to all but also cost recovery to maintain the systems and wise and judicious use of water.

It is time that we set ourselves the vision of a water sensitive city and chalked out the policy, regulation and institutions required to make the vision a reality. We need to bolster our institutions with the required skill set such as hydro-geologists to manage groundwater, hydrologists and ecologists to manage surface water and community workers to ensure that the poor’s needs are articulated, incorporated in plans and then met on the ground.

That then is the path to water wisdom.


Araghatta – the Persian Wheel at work

February 23, 2011


Locally called the Rehat, the Persian Wheel is one another ancient water lifting device again perhaps more than a 1000 year old still functional in some pockets of India.

Again the question is what can be done to preserve these still functional and beautiful water heritage devices of our country? Can we declare the zones where they operate as water heritage zones and incentivize the farmers in preserving and running these devices? Can we attract eco tourists to take a look at these structures and perhaps compensate the farmer for having maintained it?




Ancient water lifting devices from India

February 20, 2011

This is called the Chadas and is from Rajasthan, India.

These water lifting devices used animal power and could be operated only if the water table was not more than 60 -80 feet. It therefore generally used the dynamic and replenishable water table therefore was sustainable.

Even now where these devices operate indicate a reasonable level of groundwater, what we in current terminology would call ‘white’ zones.

Can we not therefore delineate these areas as water heritage conservation zones? Can we not preserve the water table at the levels they exist by say banning the use of further bore-wells and the use of pumps ? Cannot the water lifting devices also be preserved by a system of incentives? Can not tourism reach out to see the devices and pay to the farmer for having preserved these heritage which date more than 1000 years?


World Water Day -March 22nd

February 20, 2011

22 March 2011
The UN Human Rights Council affirms the human right to safe drinking water
The world’s .
governments must now contribute to the provision of a regular supply of safe, accessible and
affordable drinking water in sufficient quantity for 884 million more people.
On the occasion of World Water Day, the undersigned organisations wish to strongly state
that the time has come to stop neglecting rainwater: it must be considered as an important tool
in efforts to minimize the water related problems that this century is already posing us.

•Rainwater is a valuable resource that is underutilized. Its capture and use alleviate
potable, non-potable, storm water and energy challenges in the face of
environmental and climate change.
• Local rainwater harvesting solutions enhance water security and provide important
relief to households and communities. All around the world, rainwater infiltration,
collection and storage offers benefits for the environment, wildlife and humans, and
improves water availability for industry and agriculture.
• It is time for rainwater catchment to be adopted and promoted in the development
plans of all governmental agencies as part of their integrated water resource
management strategies.
• The concept of rainwater management – maximizing rain’s benefits as a vital resource
while minimizing potential rain hazards – must be widely introduced into technical
schools and universities so that it is a fundamental part of each new urban planning,
architectural or agricultural project.
International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA)
American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA)
International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (IRCSA)
Southern and Eastern Africa Rainwater Network (SearNet)