As we build dams and erect power grids, we forget that nature has given us all the resources. Just that we fail to utilize our gifts in the correct manner. But here’s a man in Bengaluru who “catches the rain as it falls” and has saved on his water bills for 23 years! Now that’s the trick we all must use considering our water consumption doubles every 20 years and if this trend continues, water will no longer be a natural resource.
AR Shivakumar is a wonderman whose house runs completely on harvested rain water and never goes dry unlike the silicon city of India. In 1994, he built a 2,400 sq ft house using rain water. His skills as a scientist helped him study the rainfall patterns of the last 100 years and work out an efficient model that will conserve every drop of rain water. He works as principal investigator – rain water harvesting – with Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and is a big believer of sustainable living and renewable energy.
“First, we listed the requirements for a house: energy, good comfort living, air, water,” he says. “We found to our surprise that the answer is with nature and not with the Karnataka electricity or water board.” His system is so efficient and flawless that he doesn’t even have a municipal water connection at his house.
While Bengaluru struggles in hot, dry summer for drinking water, Shivakumar has water in access that he had stored months ago in the rainy season. In an average season, Bengaluru receives around 900-1,000 millimeters of rainfall. I translate my share of the rain water, that is 2,30,000 litres of water, into several levels of storages after proper filtrations. This is far more than their actual requirement. They store 85 percent of the water that their house receives. Their drinking water also comes from the skies above.
Not just this he also recycles the water he uses. The water from the kitchen goes to water his garden while the drainage from the washing machine is used for flushing the toilet. It is a family effort.
Cauvery, the closest perennial river, flows over 100 km away and at an altitude that is nearly 1,000 feet lower than Bengaluru’s, making it extremely expensive to pump water to the city’s residential areas. Also, with the city’s population swelling over the years, ground water levels have decreased sharply.
Rainwater harvesting is not a new concept but a very few people care to implement it with dedication like AR Shivakumar. His expertise and technical know-how is now being utilised by the government of Meghalaya to build a RWH infrastructure in the state. Home to Mawsynram and Cherrapunji (the wettest places in India), Meghalaya receives one of the highest rainfall in India, but still suffers from acute water scarcity when the precipitations drop sharply from November until March.
“Nature holds the answers to the problem of urban water scarcity. Contrary to popular belief, rainfall in Bengaluru has actually gone up in the last few years but much of it goes unharnessed. We must catch the rain wherever and whenever it falls. If even half of the houses in the city (that are similar to mine) are retrofitted with RWH systems, Bengaluru may never face water scarcity. And this goes for other Indian cities too,” concludes Shivakumar.
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