Water Conservation & Management

Just as 20th century was focused on oil concerns the 21st century will be dedicated to issues concerning safe and adequate drinking water. As we know major chunk of water in our country is utilized to irrigate the fields, and farmers, who are victims of irregular power supply, in order to ensure sufficient water for their fields, switch on the pumps night long wasting water and power both. If we continue to treat water as cheap resource that can be wasted, not even the best technologies could solve the problem. With weather playing games the situation of drought develops every year in Madhaya Pradesh. Heed is never paid to have permanent and stable solution for paucity of water, but always resources are utilized to make immediate and temporary arrangements to tackle the crisis. So the problem of water scarcity resurfaces every year.

It is not that we are backward in terms of technologies, as the groundwater system in Burhanpur town in Madhya Pradesh developed hundred of years back is  so well engineered that people use it till date. Like we know that water is allowed to escape in nallas after rains, if same is retained by series of stop dams, check dams then we could have water flowing for all twelve months. There are several other methods to solve the problem what is  required is just their percolation into the masses. Paying heed to recurring, protracted and silent emergency in the state, UNICEF has intensified its activities.

In the year 2000, 44 districts of the total 45 had registered deficit rainfall. The reported shortfall in the 32 most affected districts ranged from 20 to 62 percent. Subsequently several projects were initiated by UNICEF at various places to assist  the people  in their operations to have access to water including Panna, Chhindwara and Seoni. Local communities have been activated in this regard, solving the twin problem of unemployment and water paucity.

With aim to reduce the vulnerability to droughts, improve income and livelihood of people, Rajiv Gandhi Mission for Watershed Management, since its inception in 1994, is actively involved to better manage the natural resources at local level through community participation of the people. Under the mission, after chalking out location specific and need based action plans, funds are provided under Drought Prone Area Programme, Employment Assurance Scheme and Integrated Wasteland Development programmed. The funds under above schemes come in from the central and state grants. In this regard, preference is given to low cost indigenous and simple technologies, local material and skills. About 8000 villages have been covered under present watershed programmed.

"Pani Roko Abhiyan" was the next logical step to make water conservation activities as a mass campaign. In the mass campaign, structures like farm ponds, nalla bunds, check dams, percolation tanks etc were constructed in all the villages of the state with people's participation. The Emphasis was given to encourage the people to undertake such activities in their fields through their own resources in "Do it yourself" mode. The achievements of this campaign towards water conservation and management are worth appreciating. To give strong foundation to its endeavours, the state government has decided to launch  a similar intensive campaign continuously for four-five years christened as second phase of Rajiv Gandhi mission for watershed management. Enlarging the target manifold in campaign mode, this phase plans to cover all such villages of the state which were not covered under watershed programmed.

Solution to the problem lies in the management of valuable resource water by creating better understanding among the people. Keeping in mind following principles for efficient management of water :

  • To create awareness among the community and to motivate them in all activities concerning water conservation and better participatory management of resources and to involve the community in every phase of planning and management.

  • Stop usage of treated water for gardening, washing vehicles, toilets and washbasin

  • Registration of all water extraction points like tube wells, bore wells.

  • Checking concentration of water extraction  points to prevent drying up of underground aquifers.

  • Prevent pollution of water bodies as once  it is ruined it takes years and years for replenishment.

  • Immediate repairing of water supply pipelines to prevent wastage of water.

This is just a beginning and we have a long way to go to ensure sufficient water for even man residing in the remotest corner of the state. Every region of the country has its own stresses on water supply. We can mitigate drought by carefully balancing the demand with supply. The basic fact is that till water incurs no expense on the consumer till then there will be wastage of this precious resource. Development and  management of water resources, a uniform prescription for entire state will not work, the approach has to be area specific and involving local people.

Principle - 1 : Storage of Water for direct use
Method-1 :- Rooftop Harvesting
This technique is the most popular and is in use since time immemorial. In this rainwater accumulated on the roof of the house is transferred to a box or a tank through a bamboo or a pipe. This storage could be in the basement of the house or outside it. Generally water of brick houses is stored in this manner as it is comparatively free from pollution generated by bacteria and other metallic pollution generated by bacteria and other metallic pollutants. To prevent entry of leaves, pebbles, and other small solid waste in to the tanks, a filter should be fitted to the mouth of pipe, besides  the point from where the water enters the storage tank. Provision should made for sand filter also, even if the water is to be used for domestic chores. Arrangement should be made for immediate withdrawal of water in case of overflow in the tank; in this regard it could be linked to main drainage line. It is believed that quantity of pollutants is comparatively higher in the first shower so it should be ensured that water could be done by fitting in a valve. The storage capacity of the tank should be in accordance to the average annual rainfall, demand for water and area of the watershed catchment.

To ensure water quality it should be confirmed that no poisonous substance had been used in the construction of roof of the house, the roof should be solid and smooth with no application of paint as it is poisonous and with time paint falls. There should be no trees or its branches covering  the roof. Water from other sources should be linked with the tank only after examining the quality of water. The maintenance of this technique is very economical, it only requires regular cleaning of the tank before the commencement of rainfall. Besides replacement of damaged filters and other devices used. If use has been made of tap or hand pump in the water harvesting system, Then they should also be examined regularly.

Principle - II : Recharging of Ground Water Aquifer

Method- 2 : Recharging of wells and tubewells

There are several recharging structures, which ensure percolation of rainwater in the ground Recharge trenches and porous layers permit entry of water to superficial level, while others like wells etc assist in deeper percolation of ground water. Rainwater available from rooftop harvesting can be directly used to recharge wells and tube wells by making suitable arrangements. If a tube well is being recharged then holes should be made in its outer pipe (casing pipe), so that there is sufficient space for water to leak into it. The development of tube wells enhances its recharging capacity. The process is to forcefully throw water or air on high pressure into the tube wells so that it loosens the structure of near by soil and increases the porosity of the soil. If a well is being recharged then holes are made on equal distance on the lining of the well so that there is proper flow of water year round. The mouth of the well should be covered to prevent leaves and other solid waste from entering the well. The base of the well should be cleared annually so that flow of water is uninterrupted. Precautions should be taken to prevent mixing of sand particles or any other waster also. It should be ensured that the depth of wells and tube wells being recharged is lesser then the local ground water level so that recharged water meets the ground water after crossing several layers of soil. Water quality can be ensured by attaching a filter, on the entry point and having a filter bed to clean water, besides making sufficient space for setting tank.

SETTLING TANK : is used to separate sand particles and other floating waste from the rainwater. It is similar to storage tank with an arrangement for entry of water from rooftop. It has alternate system to take additional water elsewhere. The base of the tank could be made of mud, so that water seeps into the ground. The setting tank apart from removing silt from the water, works as buffers in water harvesting system, specially in case of tube wells it stores additional water till every drop of water is utilized by the recharging structure.

Method-3:- Recharging of wells and Bawries

The dried wells and bawris  of urban area could be recharged by another simple technique. In this, a hole three meter deep and two meters long and wide is dug around six to eight meters afar from the well on height. The size of hole may vary in accordance with the local conditions. The base of the hole is connected to the well through a PVC pipe and then the hole is filled in layers with big stones followed  by gravel and then sand. The rainwater keeps on seeping through this filter. The rainwater after undergoing process on natural filtration keeps on mixing in the well. This technique could prove effective in the regions with scanty rainfall or the composition of soil in the well is very porous. Care should be taken to restrict human entry in such structures to prevent pollution & incidence of guinea worn disease.

Method - 4 : - Recharge structure for Multi storey buildings

Bore wells tube wells could be used, as recharge structure at places where there is limited space and ground water level is very low. At a distance of 10-15 feet from the rooftop rainwater is brought to collection chamber through PVC pipe. This  pipe has a valve attached so as to the water of first shower from entering the chamber. All chamber are to be interlinked through PVC. The water undergoes the process of filtration through a pit which has layers of pebbles gravel charcoal and sand of normal size. The filtered water is linked to the tube well it should be kept in mind that the pipe are linked with each other on slopes in a proper ratio.

Method - 5 :- Recharge shaft

These are most efficient and cost effective structure to recharge the aquifer directly. In the areas where source of water is available for some time only shaft is dug through hands auger or in alluvial tracts through rotatory process. The diameter of the shaft could vary between half to one feet depending on the availability of water. Recharge shaft is filled with gravel, pebbles and sand. The shaft should be 4-5 meters away from the house. Care should be taken that this shaft does not obstruct the foundation of the building. Shaft should be cleaned regularly and sand should be changed.

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