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Rainwater harvesting gaining slow but steady growth

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, March 30: Laxmi Narayan Prajapati, 50, resident of Brahma Tole remembers how around half a dozen wells built hundreds of years ago generated enough water for the entire locality when he was a teenager. However, a growing population that is dependent on ground water extraction has taken its toll on the wells in the area.

Baranani, Laskaranani, Bhalanani, Musungnani, Kumanani and Bahra Barse wells completely dried up some 15 years ago.

During the dry seasons, the locals of Brahma Tole, situated at Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Ward 12, face acute shortage of water like many other Kathmanduties. For the Newar community, believed to be inhabiting the area from a period before the Lichhavi rule in Kathmandu, managing water had become a major day-to-day challenge after the wells ran dry.

But the locals found a new way to deal with the problem: rainwater harvesting.

Baranani well that had dried up around 15 years ago has been generating around 4000 liter of usable water on daily basis.

Nani Maya Maharjan, 35, a member of local Brahma Club, said that she had to travel all the way to Satungal to wash clothes until two years ago.

However, Maharjan is now the caretaker of Baranani well that supplies 200 liters of water to 20 households every day.

“Though we still face scarcity of water during dry seasons, there is enough water for the entire locality in rainy season,” said Maharjan. Altogether 50 households in the area are benefiting from the harvested rainwater, she added.

After rainwater harvesting, the locals have been able to use 1500 to 2500 liters of water from each of the four wells.

The locals, however, do not use the Bahra Barse well citing religious belief dating back to Lichhavi dynasty that the well should be used in 12 years gap if drought and famine occurs in the area, said Bal Krishna Maharjan, chairperson of the Brahma Club.

As a result of the joint venture between the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVWSMB), Center for Integrated Water Development (CIUD) and Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL), KMC has installed Surface Runoff Harvesting which recharges the well both during rainy and dry seasons. The locals are active to add more rainwater harvesting and recharge system in the public land in the area with an aim to have as many as 20 surface runoff recharge zones within a year in Brahma Tole and Hyumat Tole, said Jeevan Kasula, field coordinator of the CIUD.

In Dallu, near the Swayambhu Temple, restoration of Bhuikhel pond is expected to help the local community to harvest and restore more than 350,000 liters within a year.
Locals constructing surface runoff harvesting at the courtyard of Bhalanani well in Brahma Tole, Kathmandu 12.The well dried up 15 years ago is generating 2500 litre water a day in dry seaso
Likewise, with the construction of two recharge wells in the pond, the community is now in a position to recharge the groundwater, a source for many stone spouts in the area.

As per a study, the valley receives over 1600 millimeter rainfall during the rainy season, which can be used for drinking and all other purposes after proper treatment. It is equivalent to 160,000 liters per hectare.

Thus, the rainwater falling on 300 square kilometers of the Valley is sufficient to meet the demand for water for 525 days in the Valley, which means rainwater harvested during one monsoon can generate water for one and half years, according to the government´s rough estimation.

The KVWSMB in 2010 had signed an agreement with the NGO to promote rainwater harvesting in the valley. Likewise, another contract was finalized last year with the CIUD to generate 500 million liters of rainwater.

The government and the CIUD were able to achieve the target within the time, says Kasula. The CIUD has set another target of generating 800 million liters of water through rainwater harvesting this year.

Apart from the collaboration with non-government organizations, the government body is also independently installing the surface runoff harvesting at different places in the Valley, according to Sushil KC, planning officer at the KVWSMB.

The board recently installed rooftop rainwater harvesting at the Maharajgunj unit of the KUKL. Similarly, Maharajgunj-based Mahendra Higher Secondary School and another community school in Kirtipur have built a rainwater harvest system, added KC.

Though experts have been talking about alternative way to solve the water problem in the Valley for a long time now, very few people are aware about rainwater harvesting.

The board is launching a massive awareness program to promote rainwater as an alternative to ground water extraction, KC mentioned.

There is a demand of 320 million cubic liters of drinking water in the Valley for 3.2 million people. While the KUKL has the capacity to supply 150 million liters of water during the rainy seasons, its supply capacity drops to 90 million liters in the dry seasons.

Locals using harvested rainwater from Baranani well

How to harvest rainwater
The rainwater can be harvested in two ways. The surface run-off harvesting could be compounded and used for recharging aquifers by ponding and directly through pits and wells. The system costs between Rs 70,000 and Rs 80,000 to build.

The second one is rooftop rainwater harvesting which is more affordable for household use. In this harvesting system, the rainwater is collected from the rooftop of a building and then stored or released through a pit well. The system costs Rs 25000.

Recent activity to promote Rain water harvesting in the Kathmandu Valley
The government bodies like KMC and KUKL have been doing little to promote rainwater harvesting in the valley in recent years. In a bid to promote rainwater as a solution in urban areas and in underprivileged communities and households, the non-government organizations have come together to engage knowledge and experience and boost the application of rainwater harvesting to improve safe water supply services and to conserve water where scarce.

On the occasion of World Water Day 2013 that was marked on 22 March, some 21 WASH sector organizations have decided to strongly advocate for the appropriate inclusion of Rainwater Harvesting in the integrated water resource management strategy of the country.

Issuing a joint statement that came as a commitment to encourage individual families to practice rainwater harvesting as an important tool for minimizing the water crisis, the organizations have said that they would negotiate with the government to launch massive awareness program on the concept of rain water management.

Similarly, the concept will be included in the curriculums of technical schools and universities for future benefits in urban planning, architectural and agricultural sector.

The organizations have also expressed commitment to enhance access to rainwater through capacity building, engaging micro-financing institutions in supporting domestic and institutional rainwater harvesting solutions, and work with the private sector and water professionals to make rainwater harvesting solutions more accessible and affordable in near future.

Source: Republica DailyLink: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=52313
Published on 2013-03-30 07:00:24
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Tap Into a Natural Resource - Rainwater Harvesting is Easy and the Water is Free - Natural Resource

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