KAVERI BHAVAN: The BWSSB is considering discouraging lawns with a ‘grey is our green’ campaign.
Apartments with well-watered lawns is a modern dream. However, most residents are blissfully unaware of the water required to maintain the luxury.
“Lawns require 10 to 12 litres for every sq metre each time they are watered. An alternative has to be found to the large quantities squandered away,” BWSSB Chief Engineer (Kaveri) Krishnappa S told City Express. He suggests gardens with temperate zone plants that require less water.
A R Shivakumar, scientist at the State Council for Science and Technology at the Indian Institute of Science, has worked extensively with the BWSSB and BBMP in water conservation, and found that lawns consume extravagant amounts of water.
In most apartment complexes, fresh water is used to abundantly water the various imported ornamental plant species, twice a day.
“Shallow roots cause water to trickle down to the depths and disappear. Evaporation also results in water loss. To keep plants hydrated alive, it becomes crucial to water them twice,“ he explained.
He has been advising the BBMP to grow tree-based parks, where greenery occupies significantly more space than concrete. “I have made repeated suggestions to discontinue the practice of growing lawns,” Shivakumar explained.
Sunil Mysore, Director at Hinren, a rainwater harvesting firm, has helped many apartment complexes adopt rain water harvesting. He believes more residents today are opting for tree-based landscapes. “Trees give us oxygen and shelter, they help humans live,” he said.
Two apartment complexes, Rainbow Drove on Sarjapur Road and Golden Blossoms in Whitefield, recently made a conscious effort to grow mango and guava trees, which need little water. “The rains are sufficient for them to flourish,” he said.
Lal Bagh and Cubbon Park are covered with natural path grass, which looks good and is low maintenance.
Local species found in the city’s botanical gardens are rarely planted in posh apartment complexes, which prefer style over the ecosystem. During the construction phase, plant varieties are imported to add to the scenic beauty, and add to marketing glitz.
“Foreign plants are prone to more diseases than Indian ones. They are more expensive. Appeal always triumphs conservation, plants like cactus consume little water, but are not easy on the eye,“ said Vijay Raj, Director at Farmland Rain Water Harvesting Systems.
Shubha Ramachandra, Project Manager at Biome, thinks it is wise to use fresh water for watering only certain plants that need them. “Trees like mango grow by themselves, but plants that sprout, like coriander and palak, need fresh water for initial survival. The switch to treated water can also be made,” she said.
The value and respect for water is sometimes absent when it is offered cheap, say experts.
“The BWSSB should increase the price of water, for people to exercise precaution and think twice before wasting water,” says Vishwanath S, Director of Biome.
In a few weeks, the BWSSB plans to hold a meeting with eminent water conservationists, including S Vishwanath and A R Shivakumar, to discuss methods to preserve the depleting resource.