Leading by example, a home fed solely by rainwater

A R Shivakumar has been surviving in Bangalore without a BWSSB connection for 19 years. His secret is extensive rainwater harvesting

Published: 29th July 2013 12:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th July 2013 12:13 PM   |  A+A-


Are you worried about growing water scarcity in the city or the hefty water bill that you may end up paying every month? This Bangalorean may have something to allay your fears. A R Shivakumar has not paid a penny for his family’s water needs for the last 19 years.

Shivakumar, who is principal investigator for Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) at Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST), built his house “Sourabha” in Vijaynagar, southwest Bangalore, in 1994. The home depends entirely on rain water.

Rain water collecting on the roof is channelled into a tank of 4,500 litres capacity built on the ground floor. A Popup filter cleans the water before it is stored for use.

“Rain water is pure, but it gets contaminated when it collects on the roof (with leaves, bird droppings, dust). These impurities need to be filtered before the rainwater is stored. Hence the Popup filter,” says Shivakumar.

Overflow from the tank is allowed to rundown through a rainwater pipe, fixed to the wall, leading to an underground sump, built under the portico at the entrance of the house.

In case of heavy rain, when both the tanks fill up, rainwater is diverted to percolate into the ground through a system of percolation tanks. Four interconnected, recycled plastic drums have been buried underground with their bottoms cut out to recharge ground water.

During dry weather spells, water is drawn from a shallow tubewell, which is recharged with rainwater, to meet the household’s requirements.

Even in present conditions where the ground water table is sinking lower and lower across Bangalore, standing at an average of 600 feet, at his house, water is available at a depth of mere 35 to 40 feet, says Shivakumar.

For his family of four, Shivakumar estimates a  requirement of 400 litres per day, excluding water to flush - he recycles water from the washing machine for this.

Water from the washing machine is treated using aeration system. In this, activated carbon is used to absorb bad odour from the soapy waste water and then stored in a tank to be used later. Also, waste kitchen water is filtered and used for gardening.

Though, government of Karnataka realising the importance of harvesting rainwater,  has made RWH mandatory for properties built on plots of 60 by 40 dimension in Bangalore, it is not effectively implemented.

Shivakumar believes, if every household in Bangalore implemented techniques of RWH, it would take care of one third of the city’s water needs.

Shivakumar also nurtures greenery on a considerable portion of his property. This helps to keep his home cool and with application of energy conserving  methods, he has reduced his electricity bills too.  A vermicompost unit on his premises treats domestic solid waste which is then used as manure for plants.

Those who would like to be advised on RWH methods, may contact KSCST’s help desk at 080-23341652, 23348848 and 23348849.

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