Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rain water harvesting for a school in Fluoride affected region





The VSR Montessori School is located in village called Raddivaripalle near       Mulakalacheruvu of Mandanpalle Taluk. The School is completely run by Trust without collecting any fee from students for admission, books, travel etc. The main source of water supply to the school is a bore well dug inside the school premises and there is no other source of water. As the region is fluoride affected, the school bore well also has significant presence of fluoride around 1.5 ppm with high TDS of around 800. Mrs. Julia Harrington who is one of the trustees of school was very concerned about water scarcity in the region and thus wanted to implement rooftop rain water harvesting as alternative solution to meet the water demand of school. But after discussion with her, she was unaware of the high fluoride contamination in the region and thus implementing rain water harvesting was crucial to address the water usage and contamination concerns in the school. But fortunately the School has been using a RO filter for drinking and students don’t drink the bore well water, when in school at least which is not case for other government schools around. The dental fluorosis cases among the students there indicated that access for safe drinking water in that region is still minimal and thus implementing rain water harvesting in such a context is crucial for addressing challenges to safe drinking water.

The project was initiated after having detailed discussion with other trustees and thus was decided to be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, we decided to connect all the downpipes from the rooftop area into an existing sump after filtration. The second phase which has not been initiated yet mainly consisted of implementing recharge structures to the existing bore wells. An overflow provision incase of heavy rains from the existing sump is currently connected to the bore well nearby though no recharge structure has been created yet. There are various challenges in implementation of the system itself when we are trying to make use/revive the existing structures for rain water harvesting. For the system to function at its optimum level , the connection of downpipes with appropriate sloping for easy flow of water, provision of first rain separator before filtration and appropriate filter medium has to be implemented as per the design. Thus, for rain water harvesting system to be functional over time, an appropriate design after certain calculations and minimal maintenance of the system is of utmost importance. Rain water harvesting implementation could also be compared economically in water scarce region and socially in water contaminated region. Thus the significance and importance of rain water harvesting in both water scarce and water contaminated region such as Sompalle needs to be understood and there impact observed over period of time to establish its value. Below are some of the pictures taken during implementation of the work and also the completed system in usage.




Construction of filter and sump by our lead plumber Manjunath

Downpipes connected to filter and sump




Our engagement with school and its stakeholders was not restricted to implementation of rain water harvesting system  alone. From our past experience of working with many schools, we believe that a solution like rain water harvesting is more effective and operative when there is an appropriate communication module conducted in the schools. Our communication module conducted in the schools mainly consists of four sessions where the audience is usually higher primary students i.e. from 5th standard and teachers of the respective school. These sessions are designed and conducted so that students are introduced first to basics of water cycle, water conservation and its necessity which could also be part of their regular syllabus. The second session mainly deals with water demand calculation where students calculate their own water demand in the school through various demonstrations exercises like washing hands, vessels etc.: and thus understand the usage of water for each of these activities. This session leads us into our next where we explain the rooftop rain water harvesting as an efficient technique for water conservation in schools and even in their homes through some videos and explaining the rain water harvesting system that has been installed in their own school. The last session is conducted in the presence of science teachers and principal (if available) demonstrating water quality through various chemical experiments (for water contaminants like fluoride, chlorine, bacteria etc. :) with water quality test kit provided to the school. This also signifies the importance of rainwater as source of pure water free from contamination which could used for both drinking and cooking after taking necessary precautions. These sessions are conducted through various videos and experiments so that both students and teachers realize the significance and importance of implementing and maintaining rain water harvesting in their schools over time to benefit from such an intervention especially in fluoride affected areas as seen here. Below are some of the pictures of various sessions conducted in the school and we thank the support of teaching staff and principal for providing all the necessary assistance for conducting such sessions with much passion and encouragement.



Various sessions conducted for students as mentioned above
Communication materials used for sessions




Explaining the RWH system to students so that they take ownership



Students participating actively in one of our sessions



Finally we would like to thank the students who participated enthusiastically in all sessions and the teaching staff for who helped us in conducting sessions. We also thank our lead plumber Manjunath for implementing the system efficiently in the school and has been actively implementing  rain water harvesting systems in other Schools as well. The success story of rain water implementation in school is significant in fluoride affected area as it showcases this as solution to safe drinking water in water contaminated areas.

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