Bangalore – the water in summerFebruary 18, 2012
Come summer the usual drama around water starts. Corporators get busy with empty pots and a hue and cry is raised around shortage, some genuine some a political stunt. Why are we subject to this every year? Why cannot we ensure that all our citizens have a access to this most needed of all resource especially when it is needed the most? Summer is a time when demand shoots up. The biological and physical requirement for water, for drinking or for a bath goes up. Landscape requirements shoot up as the soil loses its moisture. Tanks and lakes dry up and lose the capacity to recharge the groundwater. Wells dry up too and bore-wells start yielding less water. Power shortage also adds to the problem since it requires a lot of energy to lift water up over longer hours. Unfortunately for us the vision for water is a 50 year one and the vision of democracy at local levels is for 5 years at the most. This mismatch does not yield optimal solutions. Hence instead of demanding more recharge structures and the cleaning and protection of lakes we demand more bore-wells to extract more water and deplete groundwaters further. For things to change we must ensure universal access to water. All households must have a BWSSB connection without any legal, financial or technical barriers. Some water for all and not all water for some should be the motto. Distribution of water should be as much in all zones as it is in the posh areas. The work to integrate all forms of water must begin at the end of summer. Lake protection and de-silting, rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge and integration with the city water supply system, demand management through restriction of supply for non serious use, waste water recycling and reuse should be on top priority. Areas generally chronically short of water should have a separate plan ready to be rolled out during summer. Citizens too should contribute through reducing demand and sharing the resource. Every building must recharge all the rainwater that falls on it. Ironically groundwater tables are rising in the city centre from leaking water pipes. This groundwater resource should be used to augment shortage. Parks are spraying water on grass through bore-wells. Tree based parks should be the norm and such wasteful use of water stopped. Finally we must return to the culture of the well, a culture which sends ecological signals about resource availability and demands behavior change in tune with the seasons. There is enough water for everybodys needs but not for anybodys greed or stupidity provided we share equitably .