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‘We never know the worth of water till the well is dry’.
– Thomas Fuller, English Historian
Bangalore is facing a water crisis like never before. Our lakes are polluted. Several of them have been built over. More than half of the city’s drinking water comes from 150 km away – 35% of this water is lost due to leakages. The groundwater table in several areas has hit an all-time low, and in others, has been severely contaminated by sewage. In the absence of regular water supply, citizens have had to resort to buying water from tankers. A Firstpost article in April 2014 talks about the possibility of Bangalore having to be evacuated by 2023, less than a decade away.
In 1995, Vice President of the World Bank, Ismail Serageldin, predicted that ‘the wars of the next century will be fought over water’. While the rest of the world might have the luxury of time before it fights the war for water, Bangalore is already on the brink of losing the war.
S. Vishwanath, better known in the city as Zenrainman, founder of Rainwater Club and Director of Biome Solutions, says, “Bangalore is likely to be the first city in India that is likely to hit critical ceilings on water availability, and it has already hit that.” Now more than ever, it has become crucial for the city’s citizens to understand the water situation, and implement solutions for the efficient management of water and waste water.
Who can attend:
- Management committee members of apartment associations
- Architects of apartment complexes
- Facility management services catering to apartment complexes
On June 21st, ApartmentADDA, an organisation that hosts private, secure portals for apartment complexes, will be conducting a special Water Workshop for Apartment Complexes. Sangeeta Banerjee, the founder says, “Most of our customers – large apartment communities – are situated in new and growing outskirts of the city, where there is fragile infrastructure for water supply, waste water treatment, solid waste management etc. Under Self Sufficient Apartments, a cause that ApartmentADDA runs, we conduct events on water management, waste management and other such issues that plague multi-dwelling units in India, and make them heavily dependent on the city infrastructure that is facing growth pangs. These events bring together management committees, subject matter experts and the city government.”
The upcoming workshop, for the first time, will include builders as well. “Apartment management associations have a wealth of knowledge, which the builders may not necessarily have. Many times, we have felt there are so many learnings and we realise that it would be good if these learnings are incorporated. That will happen only if the builders are also involved,” says Sangeetha. She is seeking the active involvement of CREDAI as well.
Why apartments should be involved in saving water?
A good place to implement water management systems would be apartment complexes. Apartment complexes started cropping up in the city to meet the growing demand for homes and the lack of space. Apartment complexes are home to several hundred people, in some cases, several thousand. While most apartments that have been constructed recently, have certainly made arrangements for water management, many apartment associations are retrofitting solutions to ensure they manage water responsibly.
In December 2009, ApartmentADDA conducted its first Water Workshop for Apartment. The workshop aimed to empower citizens from apartment associations to take active steps toward water management initiatives.
Again in February 2012, 78 homeowners attended the second edition of the workshop to understand how they could make the water supply situation better for their apartment community. These workshops inspired several apartments to implement these solutions.
James Jacob, member of the Management Committee at Samhita Square, Basavanagar, who attended the workshop in 2012 says, “We were thinking about implementing rainwater harvesting when the workshop came along, which is why we specifically attended it. Within three to four months, we started the project for rainwater harvesting. This has helped us because we are routing the water that we are harvesting to the sump, after primary filtering. We are substituting the borewell or tanker input by using the water we have harvested. We have seen a significant reduction in the borewell operation and electricity consumption when it rains.”
With respect to water metering, Jacob adds, “We started actual water metering in end-October 2013. Before that, we were sourcing the water by tanker and we were getting three to five tankers from outside. We were also enforcing five to eight hours of water disruption during the day. Simultaneously, we also got the Cauvery water supply, which amounts to about 30 to 35 tankers in a month. Now, we have round about water supply, we are now consuming 20% less water and we are not purchasing any tankers. In the initial months, December to March, we had purchased tankers, but only one per day, as opposed to the three to five that we were purchasing previously. We have definitely seen an improvement as far as the metering is concerned.”
Vishwanath believes that it is time that Bangalore’s citizens understood the water situation, as well as the pollution situation in the city, and what they would have to do to cope in the coming days in.
How to implement an effective water management system?
The Water Management workshop will address critical issues about water such as water supply (augmenting city supply with rainwater harvesting, waste water recycling), water consumption (metered billing), waste water recycling etc. Panel Discussions, Case Studies and Expert Sessions will be part of the programme.
Jacob believes that the workshop will act as a catalyst for those apartments that are looking to be self-reliant. He says, “We got several good ideas from the workshop. If there are apartments in a similar situation as Samhita Square – high water consumption, high dependency on tankers and the subsequent payout, water disruption – I would ask them to go ahead with implementing a water management system, and the workshop is a good place to get information.”
Vishwanath says, “Attending the workshop will arm folks to make informed choices on how to use water and what they can do with water, to make sure they are self sufficient. Once apartments are self-sufficient, it is likely that their dependency on tanker water will reduce a great deal.”
He adds: “Apartments should be clear about their water source, which should be sustainable. They should be aware about individual water consumption – every flat should have a metering. They should have good treatment management plants which function well enough for the waste water to be recycled.”
If the city can shift to a decentralised water and waste water management mode, then there will be no water shortage; if not, the crisis is almost here. It will involve the joint efforts of apartment owners, house owners, layouts, builders and the government to implement solutions. And the Water Management Workshop is certainly a good place to start.
ApartmentADDA is India’s leading online ERP for managing apartment complexes. Apartments who sign up with ApartmentADDA are assigned a private and secure portal for apartment complexes, on which tools for communication, facility management and accounting with payment gateway are available.
Disclosure: Citizen Matters is the Community Newsmedia Partner for the Water Workshop for Apartment Complexes by ApartmentADDA.