Sunday, April 25, 2010

Harvest rainwater… it's the law

Harvest rainwater… it's the law

Rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory, and those failing to comply will not receive a water connection

Suraksha P. Bangalore



The state government may have made rainwater harvesting mandatory for buildings in the city, but citizens seem to be unaware.
The measures taken by the government to popularise the eco-friendly concept among residents appear to be inadequate as people are unaware about the act passed in August 2009.
Rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory after amending the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) laws in the previous legislature session. The law states that citizens failing to adopt this practice by May 27, 2010, will not be provided with a water connection.
"The act was passed in August 2009, and states that existing houses built on 40x60 sites, and all houses being built on 30x40 sites and above, are required to adopt rainwater harvesting, failing which they will not be provided water connections," said one senior BWSSB official.
He added: "A gazette notification was issued to 54,000 houses identified as 40x60 site-owners and a period of nine months was given to the residents to comply. According to our information, so far, only 13,000 houses have implemented this system."
However, when DNA contacted some of these residents, they denied receiving any such notice. When told of the lack of awareness, the BWSSB official said: "We have been conducting street plays explaining the significance of rainwater harvesting and also have mobile information units in action. The BWSSB and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have trained 630 plumbers to implement this task."
The BWSSB and Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) are creating awareness among the public by providing technical guidance on rainwater harvesting practices. One such initiative was put forward on Saturday in Richards Town by Jaago Association, Richard's Town Residents' Association (RTRA) and Citizens' Voluntary Initiative for the City (CIVIC), Bangalore. They hosted an orientation programme on rainwater harvesting.
Starting by familiarising citizens with the contour and topography of the city, AR Shivakumar, principal inspector, RWH, explained the benefits of rainwater harvesting, the need for it, and its stages, which include collection, channelisation and filtration. This is further divided into storage and groundwater recharge, and the types of rainwater harvesting, like the rooftop method and groundwater recharge through barrel system.
"As per the law, rainwater is said to be harvested when one square metre of the roof area multiplied by 20 litres of water is saved; and in the case of open spaces, 10 litres of water is saved per square metre," said Shivakumar: "Existing open wells or sumps can be used as storage facilities and the minimum size of the well for those residents opting to build it should be 3ft in diameter and 10ft in depth."
He assured residents that the measures were cost effective and feasible. "As of now, there are no subsidies, but we are requesting the government to take the necessary steps."
He also pointed out that it is not compulsory to employ licensed plumbers for this job and that they have a help desk which can facilitate the process of training BWSSB plumbers to implement it in buildings.
"We are extremely sensitised with this presentation. It is practical and we even became familiar with the contours of the city. We will definitely make a start," said Usha Kumar, a resident of Clark Road.
With the city's growing water woes, depleting groundwater levels and paucity of safe drinking water in rural areas, rainwater harvesting seems to be inevitable and this can be successful only by sheer commitment and cooperation on the part of citizens.

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