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12 Edition
Dec 2021


(Here are memorable excerpts from the meeting of WOWAF #24)


“Water is like blood. We can’t say the quality of it by just looking at it. The clarity of water is determined by the turbidity of water. There are various elements in water like fluoride, alkalines, sulphites, nitrates and more. But they must be in a limit and in between certain numbers. Dealing with bacteria in water is easier compared to mineral contaminations. Government confirms that 63% of all borewells have bacterial contamination. Arsenic is a big issue in Sikkim and those regions. People get skin spots and other issues because of this. People still don’t know how to address this issue. I have been speaking to environmentalists in that area. Organic contamination is higher during rainy seasons. In HSR layout sector 2 and 3, we saw the sewerage water getting mixed with municipal water supply. The issue was excess rainwater that led to mixing with clean water. I have made this presentation to builders as they fix a standard STP in apartments. They have to understand the behaviour of water every season and provide fixtures accordingly.”

- Vikas Brahmavar. Chairperson, Water Recovery Action Group, WOW Action Forum.  


“We need more people to do this on the ground. There should be more people actively involved in building STP systems and other treatment options, so it spreads like a chain reaction in Bangalore. I got in touch with Devi through social media as I wrote many blogs and posts. Devi stays in an apartment called Victory Harmony, Hebbal in north Bengaluru. She has been persuading the welfare association to implement RWH in her apartment for quiet for a while. She led an all-women committee to take over. They implemented the whole RWH system and groundwater recharging and brought back ‘dead’ borewells to life. Their monthly consumption with import of 150 tankers of water has fallen in November 2022 to a mere 20-plus tankers. They have much to do. I encourage her to spread this news to other apartments and showcase this as a model apartment in her City ward near Hebbal, and help some more apartments achieve this.”

- Ganesh Shanbhag  


“It’s an 11 year old apartment. We have 5 borewells here. But only 1 borewell is working. ‘Reboring’ has been done for other borewells as well but it still failed… for 11 years we lived with tanker water. As a ladies committee we started in March 2021. We tried telling people to use water cautiously, reduce usage etc. But nothing worked out. To attract all 100 apartments owners to accept the ideAa, we adopted a small trick. Nine of us women collaborated and we took over 10 apartments each. We called ourselves ‘adopted mothers’ for these families. We went and spoke to these houses and convinced them logically with maintenance calculations including water which we are not being provided with. When it comes to money every one starts to think. For that reason we convinced them to have RWH in the apartment. It took us 3 months to convince everyone. Last month we successfully installed it. This November month I installed a meter to know how much we are harvesting and how much we reduced as import of water by tankers. In November alone, we harvested 3.5 lakh litres of water from the RWH systems. We also got to rejuvenating the borewells by recharging them with surface water from rains. Our water table has increased a little bit. So our borewell has also started giving us water. We draw about 3500 litres per day. We used to buy water in a month from about 150 tankers every month. In November it has reduced to a mere 20 tankers. We hope to do more in the months to come – waste water treatment and reuse, IOT meters in every home, better monitoring of RWH systems, better and more efficient water taps and showers in our homes…”

- Devi Gopalan  


“The first thing that Vikas’s presentation showed was “colour does not mean contamination”. What you see is not what you get. It is beyond all this as water purity is concerned. An important aspect is that there are so many contaminants today and they are invisible. The world has changed dramatically in several ways in the last few decades and contaminants come from various sources. We let rainwater run into the sea in Chennai, and we are forcing ourselves to go deeper and deeper to tap groundwater which is also energy-intensive. From Devi’s talk I know that such a big transformation is possible. In my apartment in Chennai. I have been living here for 3-4 years. When I took over as CEO of the International Council for Clean Water I didn’t have much to do with water. I found water hardness in the apartment that I live in was at 8000 ppm. Iron content was over 10 and it was going up to 26 in the months after rains, and the water was sometimes red. Two years ago, residents started depending on bottled water and there was a huge demand for it. People started using it to take a bath as well because they were suffering from hair fall and rashes. We were planning to implement an RO plant. In fact that was suggested by the apartment department. It shocked me. I put my foot down and said, No way we will have RO. Where are we going to throw contaminated concentrated rejects from the RO System? There was no answer. We stopped using brown water immediately because the water level was very low. There was rainwater harvesting but that was not maintained properly. We started using tanker water and the people gladly paid more for it. This made me nervous and started thinking, How are we going to sustain if we use water like this? We studied why RWH didn’t work for us, and found a lot of mistakes we were making. Our bore wells were deeply dug–over 30ft more than was needed. It had more salt content. We rectified things, one after another, and soon we had water quality improved. This opened my eyes to the fact that for centuries we have done things that were good but because of lack of knowledge and our herd mentality, we have taken to ways that destroy the environment. We need to reverse this.”

- Nandakumar Ethirajulu, CEO of ICCW  


“I live in Canada but I’m originally from the Netherlands. In the Netherlands there is a lot of work being done on water storage. Because the country is 75% below sea level, when there are big rain events we need to put the water somewhere as a nation. So to prevent flooding they have come up with water storage capabilities under the roads, under sidewalks, … wherever they can store water, even on roofs. They do this to avoid any flooding from happening. I always look around to see what happens in other places and try to think along and come up with ideas.”

- Marius Bauer, Ontario, Member of GlobalWaterWorks.



Water Conservation Technology

Chennai on water conservation technology is far behind Bangalore.                                                                        

-  Suresh Pai, Chairman, WOW Apartments Action Group


Chennai : There might be Water conservation tech experts there. So does Bengaluru, Hyderabad or many Cities across the Country. The issue is whether or not experts reach out with practical solutions to seekers of water conservation and vice versa.

I lived in Chennai for 45 years. It is simply a myth to think that Chennai is 100 % RWH Compliant. In my Brother's bungalow at Chennai I got RWH system installed more than a decade ago. They don't buy a single water tanker. His next door owner bales water out using a Diesel-operated dewatering pump in times of floods!

I have a gut feeling that Bengaluru will overtake Chennai or Hyderabad in RWH through initiatives like the WOW Action Forum. It is also the right time for WOW to propagate FLOOD WATER HARVESTING (FWH) along with RWH to benefit the public at large !!!

- UV Sitapati Rao, WOW Core Member

We shall do our part

This is a forum for Water but this is a story I cannot resist telling you all. This is an example of what we need as stories of such negligence in the domain of water. On Bangalore’s inner ring road, half the road is concreted and the other half is left undone for many weeks now – may be for payment release to contractors who have not continued the work. I'm pretty sure many would have fallen and even died. The police officer’s stock response is,  'No one reported any incidents before me!'

I was driving last Sunday on that road, and my car's left wheels fell on a full 1 feet below. By God's grace I managed to avoid toppling the small car that I drive. Today they sent this video call to tell me that it has been fixed. We need more of these vigilante photos and videos if we want our system to act.

-  Neel Mathews, WOW Executive Group



Cadmium leaching from solar panels

Is there a chance of cadmium leaching from solar panels or frames to my Rainwater Harvesting which is fully from the solar panel surface? No way! It's only possible if the panels are of CdTe thin film category and are broken/smashed and cells are exposed, off the panel and are mixed with soil in physical form. In that case also the quantum of Cd is very very minimal.   Standard crystalline modules which have more than 95% of the market share do not have Cadmium Arindam. Your caution rightly brought up a point that we all need to know. I am relieved to hear this, for my entire RWH system harvests water from solar panels on the roof.

-  Neel Mathews, WOW Executive Group 

My understanding too is that cadmium residue will be there only if solar panels are broken. Otherwise it is clean water falling on the panel and harvested. 

-  Suresh Pai, Chairman, WOW Apartments Action Group

I meant cadmium leaching as an example in  considering a holistic approach to any solution and not specific to Solar panels.. Solar experts would be right..

- Vikas Brahmavar

I believe Cadmium leaching is also possible thanks to mischief of illegal battery recyclers.

- Ganesh Shanbhag

Rural Economy Drowns

Deccan herald 28 Nov 2021

Long term agricultural crops like grapes will have unimaginable impact with threats of water logging. Old style of water harvesting is a must and even to be enforced by law, rather than leaving it as an option. No other way, water that’s logged in coastal cities can flow to sea. It shall sink to earth. It will also replenish the groundwater table. Post COVID-19 life the way we led it is history. We can expect at least for one or two decades Nature will play its settling acts. We will have to live through that.

-  Neel Mathews, WOW Executive Group

These are extracts of conversations of WOW members in the Core Executive Group. Add your comments, views

T H E S E   T I N Y   T O T S   K N O W   I T    B E T T E R    T H A N   U S  !

Children do not move, think or speak in a straight line; neither does imagination nor creativity. But, our standardized pathways of education do...

  This is a film that documents the views of a bunch of kids. Prof Indrani Pal at Columbia University, says, “As a part of this exercise, we asked kids, ‘What is Water?’ They belonged to the age group 3-8. We documented their interesting and diverse perspectives. We also interviewed a kindergarten classroom teacher who I know has a big role in teaching these kids aspects and value of water. This film was under the umbrella of a "Let's Talk About Water" initiative.” Here is the link. You’ll enjoy this.


T H E    U N F O R S E E N

When an ambitious real estate developer sets out to transform thousands of acres of pristine hill country around Austin, Texas

In this beautifully constructed documentary, the American aspiration of having a white picket fence collides with environmental sustainability. When an ambitious real estate developer sets out to turn hundreds of acres of scenic hill country around Austin, Texas into a suburban development, the neighbourhood fights back, jeopardising a nearby natural spring and local treasure. The ensuing confrontation is a smaller version of the current battle between development and preservation in cities and towns across the country, and the world. The Unforeseen is a great meditation on the ruin of the natural world in pursuit of a transient goal. It is a work of remarkable visual beauty and epic grandeur.


Lets talk about Water -


Youtube -


The WOW Action Forum hosts Commendation Awards every quarter and bestows the                                                                          on all Big Water-Savers who save and so ‘donate’ water to the city by consuming less fresh water in the interest of making water-positive cities.



Alt. Tech Foundation is a not-for-profit, for-industry Foundation for

(i) producing sustainability managers and leaders,
(ii) providing green management skill sets,

(iii) hosting city-wide campaigns for citizen collective action to save water & energy,

(iv) purposing research for city infrastructure.

WOW Action Forum is a globally pioneering effort for bringing collective private action to save very large quantities of water at apartments, at Industry, at tech parks, or hotels and hospitals or malls and other such buildings. The 2021 mission is set to save 1000 Cr lites with community-led action. This alone will bring a saving of 236 Cr in electricity bills for the city, and a reduction in carbon emission of nearly 300,000 tonnes equivalent.

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