Activity III

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Water management

Every region in India has age-old local traditions of water harvesting. The type of method or structure used depends on the soil, terrain, geological formation and rainfall pattern. However, India’s ancient tradition of community-based water harvesting is declining and being replaced by the role of the state in water management. This is promoting a wasteful and profligate consumption pattern in the country. The major crisis that the country is facing right now is water scarcity along with the unequal access to the water sources, which often erupts into conflicts between users.
Rainwater harvesting alone can solve water crises in cities that face acute water shortages. Rainwater harvesting simply means catching and holding rain where it falls and using it.

Traditional methods of harvesting water

1. Storing rainwater for direct use
Storage tanks for harvested rainwater can be built both underground or on the surface. In the cities of Gujarat and Rajasthan, where rooftop rainwater harvesting was practiced traditionally, rainwater from the roof was collected in underground tanks in the courtyard or within the buildings. Called tankas, these storage structures would supply drinking water throughout the year. Some are still in use today. In the north-eastern state of Mizoram, tanks made of galvanized iron, tin or concrete are commonly used to store rainwater for drinking purposes. These were all built on the surface perched on roofs or mostly aside the hill homes.

2. Groundwater recharge system
Recharge structures channelize rainwater into the aquifer. It is an absolute necessity in context of the rapidly declining groundwater table across India. Recharging also prevents flooding in cities during intense rain spells. In coastal areas, it serves to control saline intrusion.

Let’s find out if your area has any traditional water harvesting techniques.

 With the help of your teacher try to locate old traditional water harvesting systems in your area/ city/town/village. How many are there? _______________________

Are they still in use?  [Yes] [No]

Select the structure which is nearest to your school. Visit the place and try to interview at least 5 nearby residents:
Names of the structure_____________________________________________________
History of the structure ____________________________________________________
Famous stories about the structure __________________________________________
How was it used in ancient days ______________________________________________

Get photographs of the state of the traditional structure.

Try and find out from the municipality/urban local body/panchayat about the department who is in charge of maintenance of this structure. Collect on site data on the state of the structure, whether there is clean water in it, whether polluted water enters the water structure (Clean water should appear clear and should be odourless).

After finding the local traditions of rainwater harvesting sites/structure in your area/town/city/village, write an essay (around 600 words) on the traditional rainwater harvesting methods you found. Take help from teachers. Consult, if possible, some local experts.

Here is a sample format to structure your essay.

Type of rainwater harvesting systems (RWH) used: ___________________________________

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Ecological details of the area: __________________________________________________

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Structure of the RWH systems: _________________________________________________

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Materials used to build it them: ________________________________________________

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Catchment area of the different traditional water harvesting structures: _____________________

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Type of Population it catered to: _________________________________________________

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Present condition of the systems: ________________________________________________

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NGOs involved in maintenance of the structures: _____________________________________

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Now that you know the anatomy of the rainwater harvesting systems of your area/town/city, assess the effort made by your school to raise awareness on this issue, among the community. Does your school take any initiative to protect these traditional systems?

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