One of the major ticking time bombs in Indian cities is a full-blown water crisis. So far, precious little has been done to improve the situation. It’s almost as if citizens and governments have resigned themselves to the scenario of our taps running dry.
The issue is especially acute in a city like Bengaluru, which has seen exponential expansion, rampant construction and an influx of people making the city burst at its seams.
Take, for instance, the seemingly regular chore of washing a car. A normal water wash takes about 10 buckets of 10 liters each, i.e. 100 liters of water on an average.
Reports suggest that Bengaluru has about 10 lakh cars. It is estimated that 10 crore liters of water per week is used for car washing alone. This is equivalent to emptying the Bellandur Lake 50 times!
We need immediate interventions to address these alarming numbers and use water more judiciously.
Amidst all this, the residents of Maa Brindavan, an apartment complex in Whitefield, have taken it upon themselves to save water. They have been able to save 500 litres of water each day!
In conversation with The Better India, Adhinarayana Rao Velpula, the brain behind the movement, shares their learnings, challenges, and how others can replicate their initiative.
How did it all start?
Adhinarayana Rao relocated to Bengaluru from London and took up residence in Maa Brindavan Society.
He noticed that the amount residents paid for water was disproportionately high. He realised that the high cost was a consequence of the shortage and high demand for water in the city.
He noticed that most of the 46 apartments in the complex use RO water purifiers. These devices generate a lot of wastewater, which while unfit for consumption, can be used for other activities like washing cars and gardening.
He floated an idea in which each apartment could collect the rejected RO water and use it for non-drinking purposes. He says, “I spoke to individual members of the complex and tried to gauge their interest level.”
Not wanting to give up on the idea, he even purchased buckets and left them at the corridors for residents to use.
“It was difficult initially – there were multiple factors involved. Some of the residents were just being weary of the additional work this would entail while others were not sure of the outcome and hence did not want to commit,” he says.
Though initial adoption was slow, the idea caught on with the residents. The association directed the housekeeping staff to collect reject water from the floors to a common point where large drums were installed to collect it.
Further, the housekeeping staff started using the reject water for cleaning the floors and washing cars instead of using fresh water.
On an average, the apartment generates 500 liters of RO reject water every day. This is now being reutilised, instead of going down the drain. In so doing, the society is also saving Rs 1,800 per month approximately.
How does this work?
Every day, the residents are informed about the amount of water collected via their WhatsApp group. This helps them see the impact that they have directly created.
They are now planning to start a social media campaign to encourage other societies to follow their lead.
While this is one step taken by the association, Adhinarayana says that the residents are also actively considering buying and installing water aerators in all taps in the apartment complex.
A step that he thinks will help them save more water.
We need more direct involvement by citizens to solve the impending water crisis. Through this simple step, we can contribute to conserving the most precious resource for our survival and well being.
Here’s hoping that together, we can make a difference!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)