Harvesting an eco-friendly story
Kulgaon Badlapur Municipal Council (KBMC), in its strive to be eco-friendly, began the rainwater harvesting project four years ago at a cost of Rs17 lakh (inclusive of a grant of Rs10 lakh from the Environmental Society). It is a source of water supply to over 2000 people staying in 400 flats of 36 buildings of Shivdarshan Society at Kulgaon Badlapur. The brain behind the project, Ram Patkar, President, KBMC, is one of the residents of the society.
At Shivdarshan Society, the surface rainwater is collected in five to six harvesting units, filtered and dropped into special tanks – the absorbing fields, to increase the water table with the help of big and small boulders. Instead of the 36 borewells in use, earlier one for each building, only three borewells are in use now for collecting water for the filtering unit. After filtering, the water is chlorinated in another tank. And alum-dozing is resorted to in yet another tank in the monsoons. A single pump is used for the collection and distribution tank (the pump takes the water to the overhead tank) i.e. for the total water supply to the entire society. The water collection tank is washed every two days. The sample of this water has been tested and found to be safe for drinking but the society uses it for domestic purposes and the municipal water for drinking.
“We have four submersible pumps in the society and are using only two of them. The pumps pull the water and drop it 200 feet below through cylindrical metal containers. The surface, terrace and underground waters goes into the holes and then, through the cracks in the earth, falls rapidly inside through 10/10 feet boulders placed seven feet below the ground. The water falling on these boulders leads to its rapid percolation. It gets filtered further through sand and filtering media,” says Patkar who is a civil engineer by profession. From there, it is pushed on to the filtration tank by pump, then the chlorine tank and it need be, to the alum dozing tank. The entire system is designed by a friend of Patkar.
“We are generating our own water pot,” says Patkar. “We generate 10 lakh litres of water from this scheme per day.” The society that often got into squabbles earlier owing to water shortage and paid Rs200 per flat per month for the maintenance of water, is now happy that it gets sufficient water all day at a payment of just Rs70 per flat per month. Moreover, the municipality has moved out of the picture and the society manages the entire process on its own. The water table has increased by 12 crore litre per year, claims Patkar. That makes it will be over 40 crore litre water in four years. “The water supply is continuous as crores of litres of water is dropped underground but the society needs only six crore litres of water per year for its use,” he informs.
The project has been replicated at two other places – Trishul Complex and Pawar Complex. Work is on to replicate it at yet another society, Manav Park.
Prior to the implementation of the project, terrace and surface water used to flow into the nallahs and from there, into the rivers. But now since the water is dropped underground to increase the water table, there is no wastage of water.
“Previously, the municipal water supply was of only 2.5 lakh litres apart from the drinking water. Now, thanks to this project, a huge quantity of water is saved. So, it is diverted to the other areas and their problems get solved because of our rainwater harvesting,” says Patkar gleefully.
The councilor feels that the colour of the leaves too has changed because of the continuous water supply. “They are longer and greener,” he avers.
The scheme has received the Best Water Management Award by Water Digest and Unesco. Patkar is hopeful that he will be able to repeat this experiment in a neighbouring village soon.