Monday, January 22, 2018

Details of our visit to KLCDA/KSPCB


As a part of the project STP Wetlands and Lakes, Alana and I have been trying to collect the water quality data for some of the lakes in Bangalore. There are numerous lakes in Bangalore each of which falls under the jurisdiction of one of the following government bodies: BBMP, BDA, KLCDA, KFD and MI.

KLCDA manages 4 lakes in Bangalore. However they have water quality data for 18 lakes, which fall under various authorities. These lakes are:
     Puttenahalli (JP Nagar)
     Rachenahalli
     Yellamallappachetty
     Giddana (Hoodi)
     Varthur
     Mahadevapura
     Bellandur
     Agara
     Madivala
     Mallathalli
     Kammagatta
     Thalagattapura
     Jarganahalli
     Hulimavu
     Yediur
     Nagavara
     Vengaiahnakere
     Hebbal

.This link provides the water quality report from July 2017 maintained with KLCDA. Because the lakes in this report fall under different authorities, the custodians of each lake are responsible for creating an action plan based on the sample results. It is not the responsibility of the KLCDA to do this for all of the lakes, only those 4 that it is a custodian of. 

Seema Garg, the CEO and an IFS officer not only shared the water quality data with us but also suggested us to chose a group of upstream lakes from a chain of lakes to conduct studies on wetlands, water quality, water and Wastewater Treatment Systems etc.

Few other data we are trying to collect and understand are: 
     1. Sampling methodology, locations and frequency
     2. Water quality testing methodology and frequency'
Based on our last conversation with the KLCDA, we are planning to visit with the KSPCB to better understand these two points.

-Shreyas S. 

Talking About Water With University of Washington Students


Bright and somewhat early on Thursday morning I arrived at Kaikondrahalli Lake where Shubha was to give a presentation to students from the University of Washington – Seattle (USA). Shubha and I, along with another Biome Trust volunteer, met approximately twenty students plus their five advisors – two from the US and three from Bangalore – to discuss all things water-related. The students are here in Bangalore as part of an immersive study abroad course which focuses on sustainable international development and design thinking. Their topics range from waste management to urban development to education to water security – all learned through visits with local organizations working in those sectors.

Once we were all situated at the amphitheater, the students were given a brief history of Bangalore and its water story – the source rivers, construction of tanks for dry season storage and flood reduction, pollution problems, rain distribution, etc. With that context, we moved onto the story of Biome and how it evolved into what it currently is. From the early days as Rainwater Club to Biome Environmental Pvt. Ltd. and Biome Environmental Trust and the various roles each group plays within the water sector. We walked around the lake a bit more during which time the students asked about the wetlands, our projects, and anything else that came to mind. 


As someone who experienced the same visit during the second week of my stay in India, it was fun to go back and see it from the other perspective. I hadn’t realized just how much I had experienced and learned until I started answering some of the questions students had, though it also reminded me how complex these issues are and how much I have yet to learn.
Our next stop was a nearby school complex which included both government and non-government classrooms. Biome Trust had previously done some work at the school with another group of students from Washington to design and install a rainwater harvesting system. Following this project, the government became more active in providing for the school they finance.


The last stop of the day was Rainbow Drive, a planned layout off Sarjapur Road. We sat in the clubhouse while I explained a bit about how the layout developed and addressed their water concerns. When the borewells started going dry, the layout began relying on more tankers to provide water. Because this was expensive and detrimental in the long-term, they began looking for alternatives. With help from Biome, a graduated tariff was decided upon and individual homes were charged for their use based on a meter in order to manage the demand. Almost every home also has rainwater harvesting for either storage/use or for recharge. Additionally, there are recharge wells throughout the layout – several small ones in the drains and about five larger ones. With the lower demand and increased shallow aquifer levels from recharge, the layout began to see cost savings. This cost savings was used to help finance a phytorid water treatment plant for the layout.

All of these practices were observed and discussed during a short tour of the site, with the students asking questions along the way. Rainbow Drive is now an example we use for those who are interested in water management and learning what actions they can take.
-Alana, Project Intern

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The girls of Umthli school in Meghalaya win a Basketball match

Umthli Secondary School in Meghalaya was one of the schools where BIOME helped implement Rainwater Harvesting along with several other groups. The implementation team also gifted the school a football as the students were very interested in football as well as very good at it. They were short of a football too.
Today, the sports teacher writes in with a note of thanks and a picture of the sub junior girls team that is playing Chennai today in the finals of the Reliance Foundation School Football , in Mumbai. The BIOME team is now rooting for the Umthli girls to win. How we connect in various ways !! And yes Rainwater Harvesting is always there - to be happy about. It rained and their tanks filled up too  The match is streaming live at http://www.rfyouthsports.com/football-2017/matchcentre-5753


A LAKE as a WETLAND or a WATER BODY : Re-imagining a lake as GREEN

Our preferred imagination of an urban lake is mostly blue water with a well maintained walking track all along, some trees on the periphery and some birds on them too. That imagination is of course broken when the lake stinks, froths, has plastic strewn around. That imagination is ALSO broken when we see overgrown typha reeds in the lake, floating hyacinth and alligator weed. When the lake turns from BLUE to GREEN that imagination is broken. And then we want to rejuvenate the lake and turn it BLUE again
If we were to step back and think why is it that we really want the BLUE or for that matter the WATER for, we realise a couple of things. These lakes were man made, created for purposes of flood control, irrigation, fishing, for live stock, for domestic purposes. However in most urban lakes, (especially the smaller ones) even if the water was of good quality
- we are not allowed to swim or bathe
- we are not allowed to fish unless we are a fishing contractor (with permissions from the fisheries department)
- we are not allowed to row a boat
- we are not allowed to immerse idols or other offerings. Immersions are to be made in a Kalyani that is specifically made for the purpose
The above aside (things that we cannot do), what purposes does the lake continue to serve us
- it still serves very well as a flood control mechanism when the streams do connect to the lake (and the flows are not obstructed)
- it allows for groundwater recharge and places nearer the lake do observe an increase in ground water tables
- helps regulate temperature. The area around a lake is always much cooler
- is a pleasant place to walk around/socialise
- provides spaces for birds, reptiles and other living beings to breed and nest
- is a place where societies/governments let in their treated/untreated waste water
- is a place where grass as fodder mostly grows abundantly and allows for cattle grazers to collect cattle feed
The above purposes could largely be met even if all or more of the lake were more of a GREEN wetland not a BLUE water body. Birds and reptiles prefer the WETLANDS for nesting and stay in the WETLANDS for large parts of the day. There are fishes in the WETLANDS too. Infact WETLANDS provide for a lot more bio diversity. The green in the WETLANDS possibly increases the oxygen levels in the surrounding areas too. The nutrient in the waste water is drawn out by the WETLAND plants and hence the water leaving the WETLAND is a lot cleaner
Given that we cant swim, bathe, fish, wash in the lake. Given that a GREEN WETLAND serves almost all and more of the purposes that a BLUE WATER BODY can, except for changes in aesthetics and some changes in volume. Given that we are increasingly looking at lakes as being receptacles for treated/untreated waste water and that we are also struggling to maintain our STPs in the long term, what if we imagined more of our lakes as WETLANDS and not WATER BODIES. Would that be ok ? The WETLANDS would serve almost all the functions that the current water body does and additionally allow for better water treatment too. Currently most lakes have 1/8 to 1/4 of the total area as a WETLAND - either by design and maintenance or by the propensity of the WETLAND to take over. It does seem a lot more practical and long term and realistic to imagine our lakes as GREEN WETLANDS rather than BLUE WATER bodies. This could mean that more of the lake area could turn green or perhaps some lakes could turn completely into WETLANDS too. The WETLAND would still need maintenance and management (and we would need to learn how to go about with it) and acceptance.
Would we be ok imagining our lakes as WETLANDS. More GREEN and less BLUE ?
All WETLAND and WATER BODY pictures from Lower Ambalipura Lake, Off Sarjapura Road. Roughly 20% WETLAND and 80% WATER BODY, by area





 

Cleaning a Well in Mathikere

Ravi and Shankar are well cleaners and well diggers. One of the wells that Shankar and Ravi are cleaning in Mathikere, Bangalore is 30ft deep and 3.5ft in diameter. Has water at 8ft below ground level. That means the well has a standing 22ft column of water. This translates to an availability of 4000 litres of water per day for the family. The well is 25 years old and the family uses the water for all non potable purposes. For drinking and cooking they have Cauvery water. The well has never gone dry. This is possibly because the family also lets in rooftop water into the well. So the well is used for ground water recharge as well as a source of water. An open well in a house really does make you a lot more responsible in the way you think of/use water. If anyone is looking to clean/dig a well in/around Mathikere, Shankar is on 96558 52399 and Ravi on 98805 53136


 

A map of the 6 rivers arising from the Nandi Hills

6 Rivers

thanks Anand S R Yadwad

Click on the map to read up details on each of the rivers