Thursday, April 25, 2024

Workshop Spotlight: "I Save Water" - A Comprehensive Approach to Urban Water Conservation

From left to right - Ramakrishna, Shashi, Ashok, Sneha, Ayushi, Bhavani, Deeksha, Apeksha, Meena

        The "I Save Water" workshop at Max Mueller Bhavan in Indiranagar on 21 April 2024, organized by I Change Indiranagar, was a hive of activity and earnest discussions.  The event brought together local environmentalists, water conservation experts from Biome, and community leaders in a collaborative effort to address one of the most pressing issues of our time—water conservation.

Participants at the I save Water workshop

Date: 21 April, 2024

Venue: Max Mueller Bhavan, Indiranagar, Bengaluru

Topic of Discussion: Water conservation

Members from Biome: Ayushi, Bhavani, Apeksha, Deeksha, Meena

Distinguished Attendees

        The workshop was graced by several notable figures from the Bangalore civic and environmental community. Among them was Mr Basavaraj, the Executive Engineer of BWSSB, Indiranagar, who is deeply involved in water infrastructure projects throughout the city. Mr. RajKumar Dugar, the founder and convener of Citizens for Citizens, brought insights from his extensive work in community-driven environmental initiatives. Ms. Rosita Sequeira, Secretary of the Citizens Action Forum, shared her experiences in legal advocacy concerning water management.

Opening Remarks by BWSSB's Executive Engineer

        The event kicked off with an informative session led by Mr. Basavaraj, the Executive Engineer of BWSSB, Indiranagar. He outlined the mechanisms of water supply in Bangalore, highlighting the city's dependency on rainfall and the Cauvery River. Mr Basavaraj emphasized the critical need for rainwater harvesting and recharge pits and advocated for minimal use of water in domestic settings such as kitchens and bathrooms. He also discussed the benefits of aerators and the use of RO-reject water and encouraged attendees to adopt these water-saving technologies.

Mr. Basvavaraj, Executive Engineer - BWSSB addressing the participants

Hydrogeological and  Water Conservation Insights from Biome

        Ayushi, a hydrogeologist with Biome, elaborated on Bangalore's reliance on shallow aquifers. She provided a detailed account of the current water crisis, the dangers of unchecked groundwater extraction, and its broader environmental impacts, including the shifting of the Earth's axis. Her presentation included compelling data on India's position as the highest groundwater extractor globally, insights into Bangalore’s unique geology, lake systems, and the critical role of recharging aquifers.

Ayushi from Biome sharing insights on Hydrogeology

        Apeksha, a water consultant at Biome, shared Biome's approach to water conservation, focusing on utilizing local water sources like rain and recycling to reduce water demand. She extensively covered the potential of rainwater harvesting in Bengaluru, detailing its components such as catchments, conveyance systems, and storage solutions. Apeksha highlighted Biome's work in implementing these systems in local schools, fostering an early engagement among students with water conservation practices. She presented successful case studies from Rainbow Drive, an example of community involvement in digging recharge wells and reviving defunct borewells resulting in the layout becoming water-positive, and IIM-B, which revived their old recharge wells and dry borewells and eventually increased the water table by 13.5 meters.

Apeksha from Biome sharing insights on Rainwater Harvesting

Community Leadership and Advocacy

          Mr. Rajkumar Dugar from Citizens for Citizens outlined their initiatives for conservation, including advocating for aerator sales at subsidized rates similar to the BESCOM's LED bulb initiative. He discussed specific projects such as creating recharge pits in high runoff areas and soak pits in flood-prone zones, illustrating community-driven solutions to urban water issues.

        Ms. Rosita Sequeira, Secretary of the Citizens Action Forum, spoke about her legal efforts to enhance transparency and regulation concerning water quality and supply in Bangalore. She detailed the public interest litigation she filed, addressing critical issues such as groundwater ownership and the proper regulation of its use.

Engaging Community Stories

        Mr. Ramakrishna, from the well-digger community and a long-time associate of Biome, captivated the audience with his experiences in digging recharge and open wells. His tales of finding unexpected items during clean-ups were particularly engaging. He highlighted the often-overlooked risks well-diggers face, and his stories encouraged many to consider reopening wells at their own homes.

Ramakrishna from the well-digger community sharing his experiences on recharge and open wells with the audience

        Mr. Ashok detailed the revival of an open well in a public park in Indiranagar, which had previously been misused as a garbage dump and tragically, a site for suicides. This well, transformed through the community and Biome's efforts, once flourished with high water levels. Although currently challenged by reduced rainfall, there are plans to construct a nearby recharge well to restore its functionality.

        One of the highlights of the day was a short but insightful presentation by Ms Ramya Coushik, a local resident of Indiranagar, who has successfully revived wells in her apartment complex. Her project showcased practical implementations of recharge wells positioned adjacent to borewells, which not only solved seepage issues but also eliminated dependency on water tankers. This initiative, referred to as Ascot Wells, now saves approximately 5,000 litres of water per week, proving to be a beacon of sustainable water management in urban settings.

Water Clinic Session:

        The water clinic, anchored by Bhavani and other members of the Biome team, provided a platform for attendees to ask detailed questions about constructing recharge wells, maintaining them, and the intricacies of desilting open wells. Participants shared the challenges they faced while implementing these practices in their local areas. The session was highly interactive, with participants emphasizing the strategic use of public spaces to effectively recharge groundwater.

Bhavani,water consultant - Biome (left image) and the team (right image) interacting with the participants to resolve their queries on open wells and water recharge

Moving Forward

        The "I Save Water" workshop successfully illuminated Bangalore's complex water issues and showcased a variety of solutions and ongoing efforts across the community. From technical explanations and legal advocacy to grassroots initiatives and personal stories of dedication, the event stitched together a comprehensive picture of what can be achieved through collective action and community involvement. Attendees left the workshop equipped with knowledge, inspired by success stories, and motivated to contribute to making Bangalore a sustainable and water-secure city.

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