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A visit to Embassy Tranquil, Koramangala, Bangalore on World Water Day 2013

With input from Habeeb Noor

For World Water Day 2013, people from all over Bangalore opened their doors to showcase homes that had harvested rainwater, treated their sewage, and acted as water stewards. One participant was Ashish Patel from Embassy Tranquil in Koramangala.

Despite a hectic corporate routine, Ashish has been instrumental in coordinating the efforts around rainwater harvesting and solid waste management at his apartment complex. He wants to serve as a catalyst for change, and he has taken the lead to cement efforts, train staff, and motivate people to change their behavior. Although Embassy Tranquil saw low initial participation, as is the case almost everywhere, now most people at least comply with the regulations.

Ashish Patel on the roof  of Embassy Tranquil

The installation of the rainwater harvesting system at Embassy Tranquil cost Rs. 60,000 - the complex paid half, and each owner contributed to the other half. They are currently tapping roof rainwater but are interested in harvesting surface run-off water as well, if they can manage the quality isses. For their water filtration, they use concrete jelly and charcoal. During the monsoon, they have a seen a reduction in their water bills.

Embassy Tranquil has dedicated pipes for its rainwater harvesting (RWH) system

The water enters this filtration system which uses concrete jelly and charcoal

See more pictures from World Water Day on Flickr.


Experiences from a civil society initiative to restore stretches of toxic Yamuna: Report of a conference organised by PEACE, Thames River Restoration Trust and WWF India at New Delhi in March 2013

The Thames River Restoration Trust, UK, WWF-India and PEACE Institute Charitable Trust, Delhi held a conference on “Sharing experiences and lessons learnt from the Thames and Ganga Twinning Project” on March 1, 2013 at the India International Centre, New Delhi.

Dr Peter Spillet of the Thames River Restoration Trust shared that the Trust was the recipient of the 2010 Theiss International Riverprize funds on behalf of many organizations involved in the restoration work on river Thames in United Kingdom. He said that the Trust had shared the money for twinning projects in various countries including in India.

This conference presents the results of the 2011-13 twinning programme. The Trust collaborated with PEACE and WWF to work with local communities working on Yamuna river restoration, he said.

Dr Ashghar Nawab, Senior Projects Coordinator, WWF-India noted that they ran the project on the Upper Ganges river at the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh to re-introduce the endangered Gharial and other wildlife there and in the lower Yamuna river area. At the same time they helped local people improve their agricultural practices to improve their standard of living.

The long term plan was to ensure a viable population of Gharial with a favourable habitat through increased capacity support from the local communities. The project was to benefit fish population, freshwater turtles, Ganges river dolphins and other riverine species in the lower Yamuna river such as otters and water birds, he said.

Field survey

Intensive field surveys were conducted to monitor species diversity and evaluate threats to habitat (Image courtesy: WWF-India)

In the stretch between Bateshwar Ghat, Agra to Dibholi Ghat, Etawah the frontline forest staff was trained in monitoring and assessing the Gharial population and habitat, thereby transferring WWF-India expertise in this field to the Forest Department.


Female Gharial recorded with about 18 hatchlings; this is the first record of Gharial ‘nesting’ in river Yamuna (Image courtesy: WWF-India)

In this project, work was done with the local communities to reduce dependency on river resources. Alternative livelihood options were provided by creating links with government village development schemes. Local Youth Conservation Forum was built to instill a sense of ownership for the protection of the species.

Dr Nawab stated that biodiversity conservation was inextricably linked to the protection of habitat in terms of availability of prey and suitable sites for shelter. Biodiversity recorded represents endangered species like the Ganges Dolphin, Gharial and the black-necked Stork. Peripheral areas of the National Chambal Sanctuary fall in the Yamuna, which are used as seasonal migratory routes by endangered species like Gharial.


Small population of Ganges river dolphin were observed near Pathewara village, Hamirpur (Image courtesy: S R Taigore)

Such habitats maybe recognized or proposed as conservation units needing effective protection measures on urgent basis. Technical assistance is being provided to the Forest Department in the development of a Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan for Yamuna. Riparian communities with stake in long term future of freshwater species and habitats across the region must be fully engaged in the development and conservation planning processes. This will help assure the future sustainability of associated livelihoods and the ecosystem services provided by fully functioning freshwater ecosystems.

Manoj Misra stated that PEACE’s work on the river Yamuna has evolved, and the partnership with TRRT and WWF-India is a part of this process. It started with devising and testing a People’s River Health Index (PRHI) in 2010 supported by a two-year grant from the UNDP-SGP. Findings from the PRHI project became the activities under the Twinning Project. The activities were spread over ten grids along the river Yamuna.

Nadi Mitra Mandalis (NMMs) were set up as formal registered societies at each grid and acted as instruments for action addressing the “non point” threats to the river. The focus of the project was on promotion of natural or organic farming, improved sanitation and waste water management, solid and farm refuse management, catchment restoration, river and village health assessment, institutional strengthening and outreach to school children.  

Activities taken up included development of plantation, recharge well, pond and well restoration, solar lamps, eco-san toilets and repair of village drains. 6,000 trees have been planted along the river at ten locations. Monthly monitoring of river health (water quality, quantity and biodiversity) and village health parameters was being done at all the grids by the NMMs.

Dave Wardle, Twinning Project Chairman discussed the work of the Thames River Restoration Trust in improving the biologically dead river. He provided an account of how the Thames system suffered from problems such as pollution, physical alteration, low water flows and loss of wildlife habitat. The work of the Trust in improving the Thames system was discussed. He shared how TRRT helped restore the Thames and its tributaries through its policy lobbying work and by helping produce the Thames River Basin Management Plan, London Rivers Action Plan and Thames Water Resources Plan. The river is as free of pollution as possible and has been able to meet water quality standards.


Thames river (Image courtesy: Thames River Restoration Trust)

Dr. Robert Oates, Director of the Thames River Restoration Trust stated that significant stretches of the river have been restored to a natural structure, to enable functioning natural processes and sustainable ecosystems.

The technical sessions led by Bhim Rawat and Sita Ram Taigor of PEACE along with representatives of the Nadi Mitra Mandalis elaborated on the activities taken up in each grid and the experiences therein. 

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River restoration techniques - Presentation by Manoj Misra, PEACE (2013)7.55 MB
International river prize - Presentation by Dave Wardle, TRRT (2013)13.92 MB
Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in river Yamuna - Presentation by Asghar Nawab, WWF India (2013)12.93 MB
Thames Ganga Twinning Project - Presentation by Peter Spillett, TRRT (2013)2.58 MB
Bateshwer grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.55 MB
Ekdala grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.59 MB
Gadaya grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.66 MB
Hamirpur grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)7.02 MB
Kanalsi grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)15.99 MB
Katapathar grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)13.23 MB
Kharadi grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)8.22 MB
Oba grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)8.03 MB
Pachnada grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.04 MB
Ramra grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)10.37 MB

Catch Every Drop: The Water Warrior contest

Imagine there's no water
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to cook or clean with
And no flushing too!
Imagine all the people
Living life in vain

The fact is that Bangaloreans aren't doing enough (or anything at all!) to prepare for the dry spell we're soon going to have to suffer through. With the disputes over water from the Cauvery to the Indus river, we need to make our scarce water resources last through the long, dry summer.

Your city needs YOU to become a Water Warrior (of taps, not guns!) with a clear mission brief to save every drop from going to waste.

Catch Every Drop

How can you save every drop?

Follow our Facebook updates and Twitter feed for all the information on water shortages, water conserving, recycling practices, tips to conserve water in your home, and ways to get involved in communities to save every drop in society and save every lake in the city.

Post a picture on our Facebook wall or tweet it to @indiawater (using the hashtag #catcheverydrop) along with a description of the method, practice, or tip you are using to save water in your residence, school, or workplace - you'll help others save water as well.

Ask your friends and family to like, share, retweet, and favourite your pictures or tweets so that your water-saving practices are no longer a closely guarded secret!

Catch Every Drop is being run by The Alternative in partnership with India Water Portal and with sponsorship from Arghyam.


Water in India: Situation and prospects – Book release by UNICEF, FAO and SaciWaters

New indices are needed to measure available water resources, says a report on the state of the water sector in India, entitled Water in India: Situation and Prospects by UNICEF, FAO and SaciWATERS. The report released at UNDP, New Delhi on February 14, 2013 attempts to consolidate the significant amounts of information available on water and sanitation in India and also aims to examine the key current challenges in the sector; both the threats and opportunities for the water sector in India.

Dr Aidan Cronin, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, UNICEF gives a sneak preview to the report

Video courtesy: UNICEF

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‘Lets catch the rain’: A fun way to learn about water harvesting

An innovative and fun way to learn more on saving rainwater!

Lets catch the rain

A book ‘Lets catch the rain’ delivers the simple message of catching rain where it falls. A short animation film on rainwater harvesting illustrates the how and why of rainwater harvesting. And for the enthusiasts there is a rain game where you win by catching raindrops and loose points when the rain goes down the drain!


Video: "Managing water and wastewater to the last drop in a nature-friendly way": A case study from a home-office in Indore, Madhya Pradesh

Source of video: Rahul Banerjee

This video demonstrates an alternative way of dealing with waste through a decentralised waste disposal method. Rahul Banerjee, Director, Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra, believes in managing the waste at the point of origin itself, rather than expecting an already inefficient and over burdened local body to find a conducive solution.

He illustrates how waste can be recycled by converting it into a useful resource. All wastewater in the house is treated in the septic tank and soak pit in the house premises itself. Rainwater is also recharged underground through a system of sand piles.

Plants grown near the soak pit, evapotranspirate the water and cool the residential area. A trellis on the roof top, forms a green canopy, cooling the roof further. Organic waste from the kitchen is composted and used as manure.

Dried leaves are collected and mulched in a pit on the roof. The water tank is covered to keep its temperature low. Window are covered by khas and grass curtains, sprinkled with water, providing a natural cooling system that alleviates requirement of fans, coolers and air conditioners.

Installation cost has been a mere Rs 200/- per sqm of built up area whereas the benefits include recharging of the water table, saving on electricity bills and the most satisfactory one - the joy of green living !

A scanned article in the Times of India is attached below for further information.


Stuffed rivers of Vrishabhavathi-Arkavathi from the Cauvery system – Lecture by Leo Saldanha and Bhargavi Rao at the “Living rivers, dying rivers” series, IIC, New Delhi

Guest post: Amita Bhaduri

The eighth lecture in the series titled "Living rivers, dying rivers" was delivered by Leo Saldanha and Bhargavi Rao of the Environmental Support Group (ESG). The lecture held on January 28, 2012 at the India International Centre, New Delhi highlighted the complex challenges faced by the much abused rivers of Karnataka because of anthropogenic threats like mining in catchments, dam construction and waste disposal into rivers. The series coordinated by Prof. Ramaswamy R Iyer aimed at understanding what has been happening to rivers across India and in drawing appropriate lessons.  

Bhargavi Rao speaking on the stuffed rivers of Cauvery system

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Stuffed rivers of Vrishabhavathi-Arkavathi from the Cauvery system – Lecture by Leo Saldanha and Bhargavi Rao (2012)12.49 MB

MoWR stresses the need to provide momentum to our conservation efforts on water conservation day

The Union Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) celebrated “Water Conservation Day" on the 19th of November 2012 to create awareness regarding depleting water resources and underlined its vision and commitment to be an active contributor to the sustainability of this very important natural resource. The field offices of various organizations under the administrative control of the Ministry held discussions, seminars and mass awareness programmes related to water conservation to spread the message on this occasion.

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Wisdom in every drop: ‘In search of water’, a documentary film on reviving of the traditional water harvesting system in the Thar Desert

Guest Post by: Usha Dewani

Veiled women walk unimaginable distances. Long queues. Dark sun and innumerable pots lined up, yearning to be filled. Hours of wait and half a pot of saline water was all they had.

The Great Indian Desert of Thar is one of the most heavily populated desert areas in the world. About 200 millimeters of average annual rainfall makes it one of the most water-stressed areas in India. And if this was not enough, climate change, in its wake, has brought in staggering questions of survival.

Knowledge, however, did not wither away. People in the Thar Desert, for centuries had survived because of their wisdom of catching rainwater. ‘In search of water’ is a documentary film by Project Survival Media’s Team India that brings to life a powerful story in which community members pool together their collective knowledge and build a system that keeps water close to home and sustains them during prolonged dry spells even in peak summers.

Communities are harvesting their ancient water wisdom by going back to the roots, and the story is shared in the hope of inspiring many others quench their thirst.

RV Ramamohan provides an excellent technical overview of the rooftop rainwater harvesting system implemented at his home in Hyderabad

Author: R V Rama Mohan

Why rainwater harvesting ?

Harvesting rainwater from roof-tops is an easy and eco-friendly method of augmenting household-level water availability. Roof-top rainwater harvesting (RRH) involves diverting and recharging (or) storing part of the rainwater that falls on the roof of a house. RRH for recharging groundwater is a common practice implemented in individual houses as well as apartment complexes.

In such cases, harvested water is directed into a recharge pit which collects and slowly recharges into the groundwater storage / aquifer in that area. But, storing the rainwater and directly using it is also a feasible option for those who want to directly benefit from augmented water availability.

Video: Rooftop rainwater harvesting system installed at RV Ramamohan's home in Hyderabad

My RRH system

I installed a RRH system at my small house located at Boduppal (17.414363 N, 78.576998 E) in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh (close to Hyderabad city) in June 2012, just before the onset of the south-west monsoon.

Four major components of the system are –

1. Roof of about 100 sq m area

2. Down pipe connecting the roof and filter

3. Rainy filter that screens all dust particles more than 200 micron size

4. Underground storage tank of 1000 L capacity

The rainwater that is collected in the underground storage tank is pumped back to a separate over-head tank placed on the roof. Toilet flush tanks in both toilets have exclusive connection to this storage tank, apart from the taps located in the kitchen and a wash-basin in the dining space.

Though my house has municipal water supply connection with sufficient supply, my intention is to avoid using such high-quality treated water meant for drinking purpose (treated at a cost of INR 25-30 per kilo litre) for non-consumptive applications requiring lower quality of water such as flushing toilets, cleaning utensils, watering the plants etc.

System performance

This system was installed in June 2012 and I observed its functioning and performance during June-Oct period, which is the predominant monsoon rainy season at my place. Average annual rainfall at my place is 804 mm, with 50 average rainy days.

Here are my observations on major aspects of the performance.

Filter performance

For a RRH system designed for direct use of water, a filter is the most important component, like the heart in a human body. My filter (brand named ‘Rainy FL-100’ was purchased from a rainwater harvesting company in Bangalore, see works on the principle of centrifugal force. Once the water enters this filter, it rotates in a spiral motion on the inner surface of the cylindrical shaped filter mesh.

Water that passes through the mesh (along with dust particles of less than 200 micron) enters the storage tank. About 10-20% of water, depending on the intensity of rainfall, gets rejected by the  filter. Passing of 80-90% of roof water through the filter indicates very good and satisfactory performance.

But, the water that reaches the storage tank has still some finer dust particles, which could not be removed by the filter. There are also practices of using simple bucket filters filled with sand, charcoal like material or sponge. Most such systems require a provision for 'first-flush' to prevent entry of dirt and dust into the filter. Also, such filters require frequent cleanup or replacement of filter material.

I found the new filter to be really 'maintenance-free' and there is also no need for manual operation to divert the first-flush. But, the downside is during first 5-10 minutes of rain, amount of water rejected is more due to high dirt-load in the first-flush water. Over a period of 20-30 min, the rate of rejected water comes to approx. 5- 10% of total water harvested.

Quality of water harvested

Rainwater that is harvested through the filter reaches the storage tank. During the four-months observation period, my 1000 L capacity storage tank got filled up around 15 times and when it is filled up completely, excess water was sent out through the over-flow pipe provided at the top (few inches below the ground level) of the storage tank.

A pipe (suction pipe for the pump-set) is inserted to the bottom of the storage tank (few inches above the bottom of the tank) for pumping the water to the over-head tank located on the roof. Since most of the dust particles are minute in size and initially float on the surface of the water due to turbulence, clear water free from any dust or dirt could be pumped out from the bottom of the tank and the quality was found to be highly satisfactory.

Moreover, repeated filling of the storage tank to the brim helped in sending out the water loaded with floating dust particles through the over-flow pipe. Thus the system is functioning like a ‘self-cleaning and maintaining’ system. Dust particles got clustered and floating on the water surface in storage tank (immediately after a rainfall event). For any such RRH to function as a self-cleaning and self-flushing with minimum human intervention for maintenance, it is useful to size the storage tank in such a way that it over-flows several times during the rainy season.

Moreover, due to availability of limited space for constructing a tank, it is better to construct a tank of 2000-3000 litre capacity or less for a roof area of 100 sq.m in a place like Hyderabad. In places with more intense rains, one can go for higher capacity storage tanks. But, to avoid wastage of more water through over-flow, one need frequently pump out water and keep the storage tank empty.

Few days after the rainfall, I observed relatively bigger dust particles settling at the bottom of the storage tank. Since pumping is done from a level few inches above the bottom of tank, most of these particles flock together and do not move with water pumped to the over-head tank. Flushing the storage tank once in a season will help to remove them and keep the tank clean.


The over-all performance of the RRH system is found to be good and satisfactory. Filter’s performance, which influences the quality of water and functioning of whole system, is found to be very good. Careful sizing of the storage tank and proper over-flow provision to storage tank helps to make the system ‘self-cleaning’ and ‘self-maintaining’.

My RRH system helped to harvest around 15,000 liters of water over a period of 5 months (150 days), at an average rate of 100 liters per day. In other words, 15,000 litres of drinking water supplied by the muncipality was prevented from going down the drain as toilet flush and saved so as to meet drinking water needs of people in other areas.

By adopting roof top water harvesting and implementing dual water use by modifying the household level plumbing works, one can save lot of high-value treated drinking water and help people in accessing potable water in areas facing serious water shortage and also in areas (such as Nalagonda) affected by fluoride in water.

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