Bengaluru has been reported to be one of the top water-scarce cities in India. With a population of 120 lakh, the city uses 200 crore litres of water every day. The usage is at the household level, commercial levels such as for construction, and in educational and office spaces.
“By the end of each year, Bengalureans consume 70,000 crore litres of water and the government spends Rs 2,500 crores to supply it across the city. Apart from that, 35% of the city’s energy demand is spent on supplying water, which also accounts for increased carbon emissions in the city,” says Dr A Hariharan, the founder of Alttech Foundation, a non-profit organisation that has been focusing on water conservation in India for over 30 years.
To help the city save water, replenish water sources, and reduce the money spent on purchasing resources, Dr Hariharan has launched a collective citizen initiative called the World Of Water (WOW) Mission. It comprises a group of over 70 citizens who work towards a common goal — raising awareness about water conservation, and putting solutions into action.
“We aim to save 1,000 crore litres of water by the end of this year. It will be done by implementing RWH systems, installing sewage treatment plants, fixing aerators, and putting digital meters to track water consumption across apartment complexes, individual houses, commercial spaces, and educational institutions,” says Dr Hariharan.
In an interview with The Better India, he explains how the initiative has already been implemented in schools and apartments and has helped save 24 crore litres.
Expanding the mission & raising awareness
Dr Hariharan, an environmentalist, has been involved in several water conservation projects over the last three decades. He also hosts panel discussions, debates, and webinars to discuss various solutions that people have implemented to save water.
However, after every session, he would always be faced with the question of whether these discussions were put into action by the participants.
“To ensure that our discussions were not merely words, in April 2020, I began the WOW 2021 initiative. The purpose behind it was not only to talk about issues and solutions, but also give each citizen a responsibility towards fulfilling their promise of saving water in their home or society,” says Dr Hariharan, adding that the initiative started with three to four members.
For the first few weeks, he focussed on spreading awareness about his initiative through his extended circles. The webinars were conducted every second Saturday, and participating members could either speak about issues including water waste and poor sewage treatment in their neighbourhood. They could also share solutions to solve the problem another participant is facing.
By September 2020, there were 70 members in the panel which included prominent people such as Usha Kini, former managing director of Doordarshan and mission director of WOW. The members were split into four action groups — apartment, school, youngsters, and water recovery.
“During the webinars, along with the participants, there were one or two prominent guests to speak about water conservation and its importance. On one such occasion we had Shree Padre, the rainwater man of India, speaking about the importance of rainwater harvesting systems in a water-parched city like Bengaluru,” says Dr Hariharan.
Implementing solutions and saving water
The mission has participants from all walks of life. These include chartered accountants, engineers, media professionals, water experts, homemakers, government officials, and retired professionals. However different their professions were, they all teamed up to work towards the common goal of implementing water-saving solutions.
“Once a participant speaks about an issue, we make it a point to help them put the solutions into action. This includes a free site consultation, providing customised solutions, and connecting them with solution providers like RWH and STP installers, aerator manufacturers and more. What’s more? Most of the solutions are given at a discounted price to the participant,” says Dr Hariharan.
While some were focused on implementing solutions in their homes, others were keen on showing a bigger impact. So they would take up the challenge of convincing an apartment complex or a school in their locality to implement water-conserving solutions.
To date, 40 schools across the city have implemented rainwater harvesting systems, as well as installed aerators and digital meters to save and keep a check on water usage. While schools aren’t functioning right now, the rainwater is still being collected, stored, and the excess is used to recharge the groundwater level.
“The WOW members have the responsibility of setting up the systems and conducting regular follow-ups to ensure effectiveness of the initiative. To keep track of the impact created and the amount of water saved, a document is given to each member. Here, details about the system, the area it covers, images of the filters etc need to be shared. By calculating some of the details using a simple mathematical formula, we can understand how much water is being collected, used, and saved at each location,” says Usha Kini, the director of the mission, adding that to date, the mission has proved to save more than 24 crore litres of water.
Apart from this, there are more than 10 apartment complexes that are installing RWH systems, digital meters, aerators and STPs on their premises. However, owing to the rise in covid-19 cases and the lockdown, construction had to be temporarily paused.
The team hopes to save 1,000 crore litres of water by the end of 2021 in Bengaluru. For the future, they hope to invite more participants, expand the action groups, and set up other such initiatives across all cities in India.
To know more or to join the WOW Mission and be part of the solution visit the official website or send an email to email@example.com
Edited by Divya Sethu