Friday, February 24, 2017

Team meeting at Cubbon Park

Cubbon park - also a venue for a team meeting. Given that all members of the BIOME water team stay in different parts of Bangalore and commuting can be quite a pain we try and meet up at different locations each time. This time the meeting was at Cubbon Park. Started off with some frisbee, then some hearty konkani lunch brought in a steel carrier by colleagues, a short perchance video shoot for all of us to be on Udaya Music TV. And yes the "meeting" did happen, There was an agenda, discussions, minutes and action items

Open well off Sarjapura Road : 4ft in diameter and SIXTY feet deep

This open well off Sarjapura Road is 4ft in diameter and SIXTY feet deep. It has just been dug. The rings and slabs are still to be placed. At a depth of 60ft it is possibly the deepest well for a 4 feet diameter or possibly even the deepest open well in the area for any diameter. Pedanna and team have dug the well. The soil shows beautiful colours by depth - distinct shades of yellow, white and red. Pedanna has kept the soil in different heaps for us to inspect. The soil is crumbly and certainly good for groundwater recharge. This well however has been dug for extracting water - and hence the depth. Currently there is no water in the well and so it will be used for groundwater recharge. Wish there was a better camera/camera person to highlight the depth of the well. The picture does no story telling. Standing next to the 60ft deep well can bring a strange feeling to your stomach and to your heart

A garland of 8 recharge wells for each borewell

A garland of 8 recharge wells for each borewell. These are 2 borewells in a farm off Sarjapura Road. Storm water runoff is redirected into 8 recharge wells (of diameter 3ft and depth 25ft ) dug around each of the borewells . The highest density of recharge wells that you will see in 150sqft

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Interaction With School Students in RWH Theme park

As part of engagement with school students on various issues of water conservation and implementation of Rain water harvesting in schools, Biome was involved in handling one the sessions for the students which was conducted by Reap Benefit at Rain water Theme park in Jaynagar. The students were passionate and enthusiastic after seeing different methods involved in Rainwater Harvesting as showcased in the park and had plenty of questions on its usages and effectiveness. It was good experience as part of our schools project where we have implemented rain water harvesting for five government schools and interact with private school students to know there keenness and interest to learn and help these schools in better water management.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Open Wells in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

Multi hued stone lined well
Open wells seem to be a aplenty in Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) though not many people seem to know of the existence of these wells. The rivers Suvarnarekha and Kharkai border the town of Jamshedpur and water supply is from dams upstream which possibly leads to lack of knowledge of the presence of open wells

In many places water is available at 20ft below ground level. Many open wells have been abandoned or been closed lately though. Many of the still surviving wells - and those that still have water seem to be in temples and in places in the peripheries of the town . The wells in the temples are mostly perennial and water from the wells is used for all religious purposes and in certain cases even for drinking. Within town limits this water is also carted away for supply to some people who do not have access to piped water.

While water is available at 20-25ft in some places, in some others it is not available even at 250ft. There are possibly multiple aquifers in the area. Borewells are also prevelent - but the deepest seem to be only about 300ft. The borewell rigs come from Ranchi and the operators are from Tamil Nadu in certain (or possibly most) cases. Are they from Trichengodu too ? Do these borewell diggers from TN go to Jharkhand too ?   The most often quoted reason for digging a borewell while an open well already exists was that the open well would dry up for 2 months of the year where as the borewell is perennial. Some of the owners do not recollect how or why they totally stopped using the open wells. The open wells even have fishes in them.

In places where the wells are lined with stone we get to see the geology and rocks found in the area. The rocks are in various hues of brown and grey unlike the rocks that we see in the wells in and around Bangalore. There are wells that are lined with cement rings too

Open Well in Shitala Mandir, Sakchi, Jamshedpur

Water being carted away - for drinking

Open Well in Shiv Mandir, Baridih

Well that has been closed - kuan maidan

Water used for washing - Birsanagar

Pretty hand pump

The 2 gentlemen who took me out well hunting

Open Well in Prabhadevi, Bombay

An Open Well in Prabhadevi, Mumbai - not far from the Prabhadevi temple. Had gone to the Prabhadevi temple with the intent of seeing the open well in the temple. However I could not get access to it. On looking around I observed that the roads had numerous water tankers unlike the other localities in Mumbai that I had been to. Unlike Bangalore, these tankers read that they carry fresh water from wells. With some asking around I come upon this really beautiful open well in a quaint old home - which seems outworldly in the otherwise modern and high rise city. Many thanks to Manoj for showing me around(His father owns the house and the well). There are some old men lying around in a charpoy beside the well. By Manoj's estimates the well is more than 100 years old. They clean it up every once in a while. All year round fresh water flows in to the well. You can very clearly see the inflows. There are some fishes that breed in the well. Manoj and family are vegetarian. Some neighbours have come and released the fishes in the well and some fishes have always been there. There are other wells in the area he tells me - but people have either closed them or put concrete slabs on top. Manoj thinks a well needs to breathe and hence does not want to put a slab on top. He is not worried that kids may fall in - their entire family has grown up around the well. Manoj also directs me to the open well in Shivaji park which I am unable to get to for lack of time + losing my way. And that for another Bombay trip. Just this small detour to Prabhadevi makes the trip to Bombay seem even more delightful

BIOME Trust at the Stakeholder Consultation Meeting with World Bank on National Groundwater Management & Improvement Project

 The World Bank is presently under discussion with the Government of India on the National Groundwater Management & Improvement Project (NGMIP).  The focus of the project is in the 5 States of the country. The project will run over 5 years
Partnership with the Private Sector towards Sustainable Management of Groundwater Resources is one of the important aspects of NGMIP. The Bank is very keen to initiate dialogue and develop partnership with India’s Corporates, Experts and Water focused NGOs that have interest (or are currently involved) in improving India’s Groundwater resources.

A stakeholder consultation meeting was held with select Experts, leading NGOs & Corporate Leaders  to meet with the team of the World Bank on January 17th at Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI). BIOME was invited to speak on Urban groundwater management at this session

Biome Trust at the 9th National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship at XLRI Jamshedpur

Biome Trust was invited to speak at the 9th National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship on the theme  “Entrepreneurship for a Sustainable Planet” held on January 27-29, 2017, at XLRI, Jamshedpur.

Shubha Ramachandran was a speaker at the session on “Initiatives in Managing Water Resources”. The session was on January 28th morning, and the other panellists were Hemant Pinjan (WOTR) and Joe Madiath (Gram Vikas). Shubha shared Biome's experiences on water issues and solutions in the urban setting, especially in the area of Integrated Water Management. 


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Understanding Groundwater: A course by ACWADAM, January 2-17, 2017

Two team members from Biome attended a 15 day training conducted by  Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM) in Pune. The aim of the training program was to engage with professionals working on or associated with issues related to groundwater and improve their understanding of the 'science of hydrogeology'. The training encompassed several topics from basics of soil, geology, weather parameters, to more complex aquifer characteristics. It was an enriching experience for the team and we look forward to furthering our engagement with ACWADAM team.


Linking sources of water, demand and rainwater harvesting: A session with Kannur Government School

"Do you know where does your school gets the water from?"
"For what purpose is the water used in the school?"
"How much water do you/your school uses for different activities?"
"What happens to the water after it is being used? Where does it go?"

These were some of the questions that we wanted to explore with the schools that we are working with. In Kannur Government school, Rainwater harvesting has been implemented. At Biome Trust we have developed simple communication tools in the form of posters to facilitate activity based learning. One of the tools was on understanding 'local water cycle' within the school.
Local Water Cycle Poster
After this, we had asked students if they would be able to draw this water cycle in their books. Some of the local water cycle sketches by the students of 5th standard:

Teachers felt this was an important exercise as they would also come to know all of the assets related to water and the supply system within the school.

Then, we started with the questions on usage. A different set of poster 'estimating water demand' was used to facilitate the discussion amongst the students and teachers.  
Various purposes for which the water is used in the school were listed first with help from teachers and students. 
The purposes were: Drinking, handwash, washing utensils, toilets, cleaning the school, gardening, cooking. Some uses like drinking were estimated easily with kids saying "we drink 1 litre of bottle a day". Toilets, gardening, cleaning school, cooking were estimated in terms of buckets. "How much buckets of water do you use for each of these activities?" Based on this, the usage in litres was calculated. 

For some activities like handwash, washing utensils a small activity was conducted wherein some students volunteered to do the activity of washing hands, washing utensils. 

And at the end of all of this, we had calculated daily demand for the school. Students were so enthused with this that they volunteered to do the calculations on the board for calculating the demand. 
Couple of things that stood out at the end of this exercise:

  • The daily demand of the school through these calculations was ~1500L. The teacher commented in the end that " Our two sintex tanks are of 750L each and we need that much water in a day. That means the demand calculations were closer to the schools' actual usage
  • School HM, Manjula Ma'm also commented that "the maximum that we are spending is on gardening. We should be careful about it." 
Manjula Madam's comments sum up our exercise perfectly well. By calculating the demand, one becomes aware of the high usage points, low usage points, starts questioning about the relative usage and most importantly hopefully starts keeping a tab on the demand throughout. 

The next activity was to connect the demand with the rainfall received. Further set of calculations were done to calculate rainwater endowment of the school and then that was compared to the annual water demand. At least half of schools' demand can be taken care by the rainfall, if harvested annually. This stressed the importance of rainwater harvesting implementation that has been done in the school.

The enthusiastic responses from the students and the feedback from the teachers made this activity based learning session memorable.