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.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Biome at Swachhata Saarthi Samvaad - A session on 'Water Responsibility: Opportunities, Approaches'

        Shubha Ramachandran of Biome Environmental Trust was invited as a speaker at the Swachhata Saarthi Samvaad, a live interaction with Swachhata Saarthi fellows on waste management and community participation. Swachhata Saarthi Samvaad is part of a fellowship by the Waste to Wealth Mission of the Office of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA), Government of India

  • Date & Time - 9th February 2024, 5 PM - 6 PM
  • Topic of Discussion - Water Responsibility: Opportunities, Approaches
  • Participants - Surbhi Awasthi from Invest India (host), Shubha, Uma and Apeksha from Biome Environmental Trust, 25 SSF fellows

About Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship : 

The Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship (SSF) is an inspiring behavioral change and community engagement program that aims to sensitize communities towards waste management while offering innovative solutions for converting waste to wealth. This fellowship program recognizes the efforts of young students from schools and colleges, community workers, Self Help Groups (SHGs), and sanitation workers who display unwavering dedication to addressing the pressing challenges of waste management through innovative solutions, product development, and community awareness programs.

The Samvaad:

        The session started with a brief introductory video of the work done by Biome Environmental Trust in schools and communities. It highlighted the need for rainwater harvesting systems and community wells for sustainable water management. 

       The presentation involved various aspects of water management, from individual to community levels. It dealt with various sources of water like rainfall, groundwater, and unconfined shallow aquifers and their effective use in a sustainable and energy-efficient way. A few successful stories of layouts, apartments, schools and parks were discussed. 

The session highlighted the ambitious “Million Wells for Bengaluru” campaign, which the Biome Environmental Trust started in July 2015. This campaign aims to,
  • Create awareness about the shallow aquifer and the importance of recharging and managing it
  • To motivate individuals, communities, institutions, and government to dig, revive and maintain at least 10 lakh (1 million) recharge wells across the city of Bengaluru
  • The explicit objective of the intervention is to increase the groundwater table in the city while providing livelihoods to the local community of traditional well-diggers (called Mannu Vaddars) in Karnataka

The speaker also stressed the importance of the lake ecosystem in an urban area and the need for its conservation. The synergy between the stakeholders of the lake, namely the Samaaj (residents, NGOs, academic institutions), Sarkaar (BBMP, BWSSB, CPCB) and Bazaar (STP vendors, fishermen), is the need of the hour to keep the biodiversity and livelihoods of the people alive.             Effective use of wastewater, which is possible at different levels of society, was highlighted in the session. Grey water treatment is a way to reuse wastewater at household and apartment levels. At the city level, the treated wastewater is let into the lakes, which further improves the groundwater table. This indirectly helps rejuvenate the shallow aquifers, an energy-efficient water source. The water can be used after monitoring the quality. The Devanahalli project is one such success story that can be replicated in any similar lake that is getting treated wastewater.

The session concluded by stressing collaborative solutions to address local challenges. Urban water systems affect resources and sanitation; regulation is vital for sustainable consumption. Governance, policies and citizen involvement are key to water resource management.

Pic depicting the changing urban landscape and it's effect on surface run-off

        Since it was an interactive session with the SSF fellows, they asked questions about water quality management, recharge well construction and reliability of wells, which Shubha addressed.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Biome at MGIRED - workshop on Rainwater harvesting for domestic usage

  Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Rural Energy and Development (MGIRED), Bengaluru, organized a two-day Rainwater Harvesting workshop for engineers of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Employment Guarantee Act). On the first day, Shivanand from Biome Environmental Trust conducted a session on “Rainwater harvesting for domestic usage – discussion with participants”. Around 30 engineers from Koppal, Dharwad, Bellary, Vijayapura, Belagavi, Gadag, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Devanahalli and other parts of Karnataka attended the session.

Statues of village musicians in MGIRED campus

Date and Time – 1st February, 2024, 12.30 PM to 2 PM
Venue - Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Rural Energy and Development (MGIRED), Bengaluru

Topic of Discussion - Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Usage

Members from Biome – Shivanand, Apeksha and Eshwarappa

Knowledge session:

           The session started by shedding light on the current situation of traditional sources of water like old open wells and Kalyani, the effects of urbanization, and the over-exploitation of groundwater. The need for effective water demand management was explained. Water demand management can be done under 5 heads: 1) Reducing the overall water demand 2) Rainwater harvesting 3) Recharging the groundwater 4) Repairing the leakages immediately 5) Reusing wastewater after treatment

      Shivanand explained the various components of a rainwater harvesting system in detail. The choice of the material for down-take pipes, various levels at which the filter, the underground sump tank and the recharge well should be constructed, the types of filters and their maintenance, the importance of the first rain separator, etc. Various steps involved in constructing a recharge well were also explained. The engineers were introduced to successful projects implemented by Biome Environmental Trust in Hunasamaranahalli and Devanahalli, where shallow aquifers are effectively being used as a water source and are integrated with the municipal water supply system.

Activity Session:

The last part of the session involved an exercise for participants where they calculated rainwater harvesting potential for different plot sizes. They also calculated the size of the sump tank and masonry filter for the corresponding roof area. Participants appreciated the activity session as it helped them apply the knowledge they gained from the knowledge session.

Activity Sheet



(from left) Rainwater Harvesting system , Open well at MGIRED campus

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Monday, April 1, 2024

Biome with the CSE team on a National learning cum exposure visit to Bengaluru

As a part of the “National Learning cum Exposure Visit to Bengaluru”, organized by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a team of 15 participants visited Bengaluru to learn about the best practices on used water management and lake rejuvenation in Bengaluru. This exposure tour was in collaboration with CDD (Consortium for DEWATS Dissemination India) India and Biome Environmental Trust.

Date and Time - 19th January 2024, 10 AM to 4 PM

Places Visited - Jakkur lake, Devanahalli WTP, Sihineeru kere

Biome team members - Avinash, Shivanand, Apeksha, Rajani, Eshwarappa

CSE team members - Harsh Yadav, Manish Mishra and others

On the second day of the CSE team's exposure tour, the Biome team joined them.

1. Rejuvenation of Jakkur lake by re-using the treated wastewater from STP :

        Jakkur Lake in Bengaluru is spread across a 160-acre area and is 200 years old. The rejuvenation story of Jakkur Lake is ideal for Bengaluru which has a major sewage treatment problem. Currently, an STP that treats the sewage to the secondary level (sewage treatment plant), and a constructed wetland are integrated with the lake. The STP has a capacity of 10 MLD (million litres per day). Treated wastewater from the STP is released into the wetland and then into the lake. The model is natural and self-sustainable.

        Mr Manjunath and Ms Meghana, Assistant Engineers from BWSSB joined us to explain the working of the STP. They explained that the sewage undergoes various types of treatment, including mechanical, biological, aerobic and anaerobic, after which the COD and BOD of the water are significantly reduced. The treated water is then passed through a chlorination tank for further improvement in the quality. This secondary treated water is passed through a constructed wetland consisting of aquatic plants and an algal pond, which reduces the nitrogen content by 40% and phosphorous content by 30%. The water is then let into the lake.
        The lake is clean and supports natural ecosystems - birds and trees and other flora and fauna. The groundwater table around the area has improved since the rejuvenation of the lake. A separate Kalyani is maintained to immerse idols of Ganesha. Fishing is a population occupation.
        After the technical discussion, we were told about  the community's involvement in maintaining the lake. Mr. Madhusudan from Jalaposhan - a citizen-led group that manages the lake,  explained the various activities conducted at the lake premises. He explained how the entire lake area is divided into a conservation zone ( the wetland ) and a community zone ( walking tracks, gardens, etc). They also conduct weekly programs like Shramadaan to involve citizens around the lake in its maintenance, educational tours for students, awareness programs, and programs to build community support. 

2. Integrating shallow aquifers into the water supply system in Devanahalli: 
        We then headed towards a small town, Devanahalli, located to the north of Bengaluru (rural) district, to understand the traditional sources of water supply like lake (kere) and wells (baavi). Devanahalli hosts a lot of wells and a lake called Sihineeru Kere. 

        Shivanand and Avinash from the Biome team explained the HN Valley project (Hebbal-Nagawara project). The Sihineerukere in Devanahalli receives secondary treated domestic wastewater from Bengaluru through the HN Valley project. As a result, the groundwater table in the region has improved over time and the wells around the lake have shown increased water levels. The Biome team has revived a well next to the lake. Two filter borewells have been dug nearby to augment the water supply. As a result, around 2.5 lakh L of water is extracted through these sources and passed through a WTP (Water Treatment Plant) that is set up next to the lake. This water is supplied to the town of Devanahalli, and people use it for day-to-day activities (except for drinking and cooking - for which water from local RO plants is used). The case study of Devanahalli is the best example of reusing treated wastewater for lake rejuvenation and shallow aquifer recharge.

Key Learnings:    

        In recent times, a shift has been observed in the understanding of the decision-makers and technically-minded society towards nature-based and decentralized solutions for wastewater management and lake rejuvenation. Bengaluru city is one such example where used water management has been understood holistically and dynamically. Further, it should be noted that the city administration and civil society are creating an enabling environment by saving, reusing, and treating every drop of water, whether waste or freshwater.

The day concluded with the CSE team with many learnings and knowledge exchanges. Blog written by, Apeksha

Biome at EMPRI- Unveiling Bengaluru's Water Odyssey: Past, Present and Future

             Environmental Management & Policy Research Institute (EMPRI), with the Ministry of Environment, Government of India, under the Environmental Information, Awareness, Capacity Building and Livelihood Programme (EIACP), organized a Sustainable Lifestyle for Environment workshop from January 11th to January 22, 2024. Various sessions on single-use plastic, e-waste management, sustainable food systems, saving water etc were conducted. Biome team members conducted a workshop on sustainable water management on 18th January and 24th January 2024. The first half was the knowledge session, and the second half was an activity session where participants were asked to present their views on water management at different levels.

Date and Time of the session - 18th January 2024 - 2.30-5 PM, 24th January 2024 - 10.30 AM

Venue - EMPRI (Environmental Management & Policy Research Institute), Bengaluru

Topic of Discussion - ‘Unveiling Bengaluru’s Water Odyssey: Past, Present and Future’

Biome team members - Nikita, Neelima and Apeksha

The Knowledge Session:

The presentation touched upon the history of Bengaluru's water supply, the rainfall pattern, the brief geography of the city and the reasons for its soothing weather.  The session included sustainable water management techniques favorable for Bengaluru like setting up a rainwater harvesting system, effective use of shallow aquifers and various case studies associated with them. It highlighted the ‘Million Wells for Bengaluru’ campaign started by Biome Environmental Trust and empowering the Mannu Vaddar community through the campaign. The session also touched upon the rejuvenation of lakes like Jakkur and green spaces like Cubbon Park within the city. Lastly, speakers stressed upon the effective use of treated wastewater in and around Bengaluru for agriculture and water supply.

The Activity Session:

In this segment, the participants were divided into 6 groups with a group count of 7 and were asked to design a strategy for the problem given. It was an informative session where the groups presented their strategies to address the issues faced by everyone. After this, the floor was thrown open for discussion.

The topics were as follows:

  1.  Curriculum Development: 

Considering the importance of water management education, how would you design a curriculum for school kids or college students to raise awareness about the issues and challenges of managing water? Reflect on key topics, teaching methodologies, and interactive elements that would effectively engage students in understanding the complexities of water management.

Participants’ Response: 

Participants proposed for a holistic educational approach involving theoretical knowledge about aquifers, rainfall patterns and geology followed by practical application of the study through field visits, water quality testing etc. They also stressed on activity-based learning.


2. Individual Actions for Water Conservation: As individuals, our daily choices impact water consumption. Discuss and brainstorm a list of practical and feasible actions that individuals can take to save water and enhance resource management. Consider behavioral changes, lifestyle adjustments, and awareness campaigns that can contribute to a more water-conscious society.

Participants’ response :

Participants stressed the importance of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle at an individual level. It is crucial to be aware of the concepts of invisible water and water literacy for a larger positive impact.

3. City-Level Strategies for Holistic Water Management: 

Exploring water management at a broader scale, what actions and verticals should a city address to holistically manage its water resources? Think about infrastructure, policies, community engagement, and technological innovations that can contribute to sustainable and comprehensive water management practices within an urban context. 

Participants’ response: 


At the city level, participants proposed implementing rainwater water harvesting systems, effective groundwater recharge, proper waste management, and other eco-friendly measures that can contribute to sustainable water management

The city has worked on alternative forms of water management due to its alarming water situation. Multiple regulations have been made to meet the growing water demand and minimize water consumption. Bengaluru has four taps in its mix of water sources: rainwater, piped water, our lakes and groundwater, and treated wastewater. If we manage these efficiently, there is no need for any river diversion. There is enough to go around if only the investments of money, resources and efforts flow to the right places.

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