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| Last Updated:23/01/2020

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For water resilience


                                                                                                                  The Hindu, New Delhi, 13th February, 2015

S. Vishwanath

Ideally climate change and uncertain rains should not impact a city’s water supply system.


The winter season is gradually coming to an end in the southern part of India. A common belief in the old Mysore areas is that with the festival of Shivaratri winter will move on. Summer will be upon us and as with most summers the struggle for water will be on. Added to that is the impact of climate change and uncertain rains. Cities and villages will need to prepare to be resilient.


What does water resilience mean? It would be the ability to withstand shocks such as drought and floods and uncertain rainfall yet provide for requirements of man and nature.


How does one build water resilience? By spreading risks, for one. Chennai city depends on several sources of water such as the Krishna, the Cauvery, rainfall on its own catchments, groundwater, rainwater and desalination. Failure of rainfall in say the Cauvery basin can be managed by shifting demand to other sources. Hyderabad too is dependent on not only the Manjira and the Krishna but is moving towards the Godavari.

Ideal alternative


Cities like Bengaluru will do well to look at their lakes as additional storage and recharge source. Rainwater falling on the city is currently not properly harvested.


If done at individual building level and at community level in lakes they will form an alternative source of water for the city not only directly but through their aquifer-recharge properties. After all, the 400,000 or so borewells can provide all the water the city needs provided the aquifers are full till open wells level.


Suffice to remind ourselves that rain falling on the city of Bengaluru, if converted to per day terms, is twice the amount of water being pumped in from the Cauvery.


Wastewater flow is usually 80% of a city’s freshwater consumption. By properly treating it and releasing it to water bodies, this too can become an important resilience measure.


Of course directly reusing it for non-potable and industrial use is already in the conventional imagination of reuse; however the ecosystems approach too has great merit and needs to be explored.


When you visit Jakkur lake or Lalbagh lake you can see how treated waste-water is filling the water body, recharging the open wells and borewells and providing a habitat for birds and fishes. More such initiatives of the Jakkur kind, combining sewage treatment plants and lakes, will make the city water resilient.



Finally all the resource generation through ingenious means such as rainwater harvesting, lake revival, waste-water treatment and groundwater management will come to nought if demand is not appropriately managed and water conservation ensured. Profligacy in use can soak all supply.


Here tariff will play a very important role to make the institutions who manage our waters financially resilient. While lifeline water should be affordable the true ecological cost of water if recovered will enable investment in resilience and sustainability.


Pre-summer is a good time to ponder over the coming water shortage and to take action. That would be water wisdom.