Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Rejuvenation of Open Well in front of Russell Market


     Russell Markeand Durgah near Russell Market

Russell market is one of the oldest markets in Bangalore, it is located in Shivajinagar. A road runs along the entrance of this market. On the other side of this road, there is an old open well. Well digger Ramakrishna says that the locals believe this well to be more than 270 years old. Locals also say that the erstwhile ruler of the Mysore kingdom, Tipu Sultan, would drink from this well after visiting the nearby Durgah.
The well is stone lined and circular in shape. It is 20 ft in diameter and 45 ft deep. It had always held water, even in dry seasons. However, it had fallen into disuse in recent years, with people throwing garbage into it. The municipal authorities had covered the top of this well with a grill for safety purposes.


 The Open Well, being cleaned

Debris and silt removed from the well

SayTrees organization decided to rejuvenate this well. After rejuvenation, the water from this well is planned to be used for the two small toilet complexes that BBMP is constructing nearby. Well digger Ramakrishna and his team started cleaning this well on 19th December 2022. As a first step, water from the well, which was at 6 ft below ground level was emptied out. Three pumps of 2HP capacity were used to empty out the water. Garbage which had accumulated over the years was removed along with the silt. There were also large-sized stones which were present at the bottom of the well, these stones were probably remnants from other construction work which had happened in the vicinity. The stones were also removed as part of the cleaning process. The entire cleaning effort took around one and a half weeks. A pump is planned to be installed to draw out water. Once the pump is installed, the well will be covered with a metal mesh structure with very fine holes, this will prevent leaves from surrounding trees from falling into the well. Water from this well is planned to be used for the nearby public toilets constructed by BBMP


The two toilet complexes, being constructed by BBMP, in which the well water will be used

It is also worth noting that the groundwater table in Shivajinagar is quite high. Local establishments like tea houses and restaurants still use water from their private wells.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Open Wells in the midst of bustling VV Puram

Biome and Wipro Cares visited a few low-income communities around the VV Puram and JC Road area on 20th March. This area happens to be quite close to Lalbagh, and the water table in this part of the city seems to be quite high. The purpose of this visit was to catalogue existing open wells in the area. We also had conversations with the people living around these wells, to understand if the well water was being put to any use. We tried to understand from them their present source of potable/non-potable water, water logging issues and sanitation situation. 

During this half-day walk through the area, we were able to see four open wells. We also came across an instance of a well that had been closed up. A brief about these wells is mentioned below   

 1. Well at Appajappa Garden


Well at Appajappa Garden ; Tank for storing well water

This well is situated by the side of a narrow gully road. It is very easy to miss this structure since it abuts the side wall very closely. There is a small Ganesha shrine by the side of this well.  The surroundings of the well seemed to be maintained in good condition. The opening of the well is covered with a metal grill. Water from this well is pumped to a nearby storage tank. From this tank, people collect water to be used for washing purposes. This well water is not used for drinking/ cooking. For potable purposes, people here rely on Cauvery water supplied by BWSSB. Cauvery water is collected in drums, buckets, pots etc and then used as needed. One resident mentioned that the area near her home gets flooded during heavy rains. Apparently, the small drain which runs next to her home is narrow and tends to clog very easily.  

2. Well at Nageswara Garden


The well at Nageswara garden

The well at Nageswara garden is not in use, though there is water in it. The reason for this seems to be the regular availability of Cauvery water. Consequently, the well has fallen into disuse, and the top of the well is piled with discarded items.

3. Well behind the Karumariyamman temple at Ramanna Garden 

 Karumariyamman temple, and the well behind the temple structure

The well is situated right behind the shrine of Karumariyamman. There is water in the well; however, garbage could be seen floating in it. There was also the smell of sewage emanating. People have stopped using water from this well for quite some time.
On the day of our visit, the locals were busy with preparations for a marriage ceremony

4. Well at N S Garden

  Well at N S Garden

The last well we visited was a large circular well. The well is surrounded by a metal grill. There was water in the well. According to Mr Armugam, who stays in a house close by, the water from this well is pumped and used for a local public toilet. According to him, the well is cleaned by BBMP whenever the water gets contaminated. However, from what we could observe, it seemed like the well has been contaminated for a long time.

5. Closed Well at Sri Muthumariyamma Temple

Muthumariyamma temple; The closed well was earlier located to the right of sanctum

During our visit we were informed of a closed well, located inside a temple. We spoke to the temple priest to find out more information. We were told that the well was situated right next to the central sanctum. According to the priest, the well was closed around 25 - 30 years ago. The actual reason for the closure could not be ascertained during the conversation. At around the same time when the well was closed, a borewell was dug nearby. We were told that the depth of this borewell is around 30ft; if that is really the case, then the borewell is likely to be drawing water from the shallow aquifer. This needs to be checked though. We were also told that this borewell yields water throughout the year and that the water is used for local water needs including for the temple.

VV Puram area still has a  few surviving old wells. While all four open wells that we visited had water in them, only one was being actively used and maintained; the other three are in various stages of disuse and in need of revival. We will have to work with the local community, understand their water needs and then figure out what would be an appropriate revival approach for each of these wells

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A commercial establishment heading towards water security - Fortune Select Trinity hotel

 Fortune Select Trinity is a business hotel in Whitefield which started its operations in 2007. It is located around 1.5 km south of Seetharampalya lake. It was originally built on a plot of 3 acres. This has now been reduced to 2.59 acres after a portion of the land to the north was acquired for Metro construction. There are coconut groves and other farms behind the hotel.

Fig 1: Left: Fortune Select Trinity hotel; Right: Location on the map

Fig 2: Proximity to the Seetharampalya lake

There are a total of 142 rooms and 154 toilets in the hotel. There is a restaurant, kitchen, laundry, staff kitchen/dining, and staff toilets in the main block, and a health club with a spa in another block. There is also a swimming pool to the east from the entrance. There is 1 acre of open space (lawn area) next to the health club and small patches with plants and grass near the entry and exit of the hotel premises.

Fig 3: Fortune Trinity Select land area

1.0 Summary

Fortune Select Trinity hotel is a commercial establishment that is highly dependent on tanker water. This makes water expensive for them. They also lack water security as they are completely at the mercy of tanker water providers. In an effort to secure their future water needs, the hotel has turned to rainwater harvesting as a sustainable solution to this problem. This case study looks at how and to what extent they have been successful in this endeavour.

2.0 Tanker water consumption and its cost

Based on the data shared by the hotel, the daily tanker water demand is around 60 KLD. Total Freshwater demand includes the water cans that are purchased for drinking and cooking purposes and this varies depending on the occupancy of the hotel. The following table captures the water demand of the hotel excluding the water cans.

Daily tanker water consumption (KL)

Annual tanker water demand (KL)

Cost per KL of tanker water ()

Cost per annum of tanker water (₹)





Table 1: Tanker water consumption and its cost

As seen in the table above, the current annual freshwater demand (that comes from tankers) of the hotel is ~21900 KL/annum and the total cost incurred by the hotel for tanker water is ₹12,04,500/annum.

3.0 Sources of Water

Tanker water, which is the main source of water for the hotel, is used for all non-potable purposes. Water cans are sourced for drinking and cooking purposes and their quantities vary according to the number of guests staying at the hotel.

There are two borewells with depths of 350 feet and 75 feet in the hotel premises. However, both of them are dysfunctional currently as one of them has run dry and the walls of the other have collapsed.

4.0 Water Storage

There are two underground tanks of 50 KL capacity each. One of these is used to store raw water from the tankers, and the other one is used to store treated water from the WTP. There is also an underground fire tank of 50KL capacity in the same area.

5.0 Water Treatment Plant

The hotel also has a water treatment plant (WTP) installed in its premises. Water from the raw sump is directed into the treated water sump through the WTP.

6.0 Sewage Treatment Plant

A sewage treatment plant that works on SBR technology treats all the wastewater produced by the hotel. Treated water from this plant (~35 KLD based on the information shared by the client) is used for gardening and flushing purposes. All the treated water is used up in the hotel itself, there is no excess treated waste water as of today.

Fig 4: STP at Fortune Select Trinity

7.0 Water management strategies

The first step towards achieving water security for the hotel was rainwater harvesting.  The hotel has also invested in water demand management to reduce its water consumption as much as possible. This section looks at both aspects in detail.

7.1 Rainwater harvesting

The hotel has made efforts in harvesting rainwater from both rooftops and surface runoff. Below are the details of the same.

Fig 5: Rainwater harvesting schema

7.1.1 Rooftop Rainwater harvesting

Rooftop rainwater harvesting for the main block was undertaken in 2020 and that of the health club was undertaken in 2021.

Multiple rainy filters have been installed to filter the rainwater from both blocks. Two HDPE tanks (connected together) are used to store this filtered rainwater from the main block and its overflow is led into the UG raw water sump. Filtered rainwater from the health club is led into a recharge well about 5 meters from the building.

Fig 6: HDPE tanks storing rooftop rainwater

There is, however, the front entrance porch and the south side balcony where rooftop rainwater harvesting hasn’t been implemented yet.

7.1.2 Recharge wells

Currently, five recharge wells with 5 feet diameter and 20 feet depth each were dug in the year 2021. Four of these recharge wells are in the 1-acre lawn area, and one more is in the garden area near the entrance of the hotel.

In September 2022, water was available 2 feet below ground level in these wells and looked clear.  A yield test will determine if there is a potential for an open dug well as a source of water for this hotel.

The pH of the water when tested with a handheld meter on site was 8.64. Based on the pH, the water can be directly used for non-potable purposes like cleaning, washing, etc. If passed through a WTP/RO filter, this can also be used for drinking and cooking purposes. Full water testing would however be required to determine its use.

Fig 7: Left: Recharge well in the lawn area; Right: water level 2 feet below ground in the recharge well

7.1.3 Rainwater harvesting potential

Calculating the rainwater harvesting potential is a method of estimating how much rainwater can be harvested from rooftops and surface runoff annually. It is assumed that 90% of rooftop runoff, 70% of paved area runoff and 30% of landscape area can be harvested.

The following table captures the rainwater harvesting potential of the hotel.

Rainfall runoff from various surfaces

Type of area

Area (sqm)

Runoff coefficient

Annual runoff at 974.5 mm rainfall (KL)

Runoff at 20 mm rainfall (KL)

Runoff at 30 mm rainfall (KL)

Runoff at 60 mm rainfall (KL)

Contribution to total runoff

Rooftop area (Total)







Roof area (hotel building)








Roof area (health club)








Roof area (entrance porch)








Roof area (balcony on south side)








Non-rooftop area (total)







Paved area (driveway)








Landscape area








Grand total







Table 3: Rainwater harvesting potential

Hence, there is a potential to harvest 5350 KL of water annually with rainwater harvesting.

Out of this, 1272 KL of water from the main block is currently being stored and reused.

7.2 Water demand management

Water-saving plumbing fixtures and aerators have been fixed for the wash basins and taps, along with low-flow shower heads in all the bathrooms of the hotels.

Kitchens are also equipped with dishwashers to reduce the consumption of water, and aerators have been fixed for all taps in the Kitchen and laundry rooms. All these measures help in reducing the demand for fresh water in the hotel by reducing wastage.

However, metering has not yet been installed to measure the actual usage of water.

7.3 Outcome

Earlier about 6-7 tankers of water per day were being consumed by the hotel. After implementing some of the water management strategies, their tanker water consumption has come down to about 5-6 tankers per day. This translates to a reduction of about 365 tankers per year. The following table captures these details.

Reduction in the number of tankers/annum

Reduction is tanker water consumed/annum (KL)

Reduction in tanker water cost/annum (₹)




Table 4: Reduction in tanker water consumption and cost

This reduction in tanker water consumption can be attributed to rainwater harvested from the main block, water demand management and other factors such as reduced occupancy due to covid etc.

8.0 Future plans

To utilise the shallow groundwater, the hotel plans to get an open well dug in the campus to serve as a cheap and sustainable source of water and to aid its water security by reducing its dependence on tanker water further. A yield test will be conducted before implementing this plan to determine its effectiveness.

9.0 Conclusion

Fortune Select Trinity seems to be on the right path to achieving its goals of becoming environmentally and economically water sustainable. At the very least, their plans would ensure water security for the hotel.

Water from the planned open well could potentially eliminate the need for tanker water in the future. There is also potential for the revival of the borewells due to the groundwater recharge measures put in place by the hotel. Depending on the quality of the water from these two sources, the need to buy bottled water for drinking can also be eliminated.

Mr Snehashish Chakraborty, the General Manager of the hotel is very keen on improving their water management strategies. He says, “We want to maximize the water efficiency of the hotel. That is the reason we make sure not to send any treated water out of our premises. Rainwater is the purest form of water we can get and it would be wasteful to just send it down the drain. We also want to reduce our costs of water in this hotel. Digging a deep borewell doesn’t make sense to me anymore when I see water filled in the recharge wells.”