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17 Edition
Jan 2022


Chennai Water Leaders Speak …

(Here are striking excerpts from the meeting of WOW Chennai #01 of January 13, 2022)


“We'll endeavour to do credit to what we've agreed to undertake as a group. We decided to coin the phrase "Mission for Conserving 1000 Crore Litres," since that is what we are attempting to achieve. It is symbolic of what Chennai needs to do to not use less water, but use water efficiently. All of us here have a lot of thoughts and solutions, and they're all extremely rich in nature. We have enough solutions. Come summer, and every Chennai-ite starts wondering where the water is. The Chennai WOW Action Forum will bring strength of City leaders, will galvanise action in zones with local communities taking up solutions. We will work with the young to create Action Groups for different segments of water-users, and for different areas of the city.” 

- Cowlagi Sripati. Mission Director, WOW Chennai Group.


1. “People are required by water. Water solutions are for humans. People will have to come up with these solutions. First, dedicated individuals are      necessary. Commitment may manifest itself in a variety of ways. Financial commitment is also a crucial part of commitment. Otherwise, nothing      will happen. An endeavour of this nature, with our resources, dedication, and techniques, to make Chennai water-secure, I believe will be helped      with a little percentage of everyone's resources devoted every day, not just today. Every month, I say 0.1 percent or something like that to be      placed into a kitty that helps such a purpose. If a structure can be established, I commit to making that donation.

2.  The second point I'd make is that in order for anybody to find answers, they must be locally developed and sustained. Thankfully, Chennai has      some of the brightest brains in the world, like Shekar Raghavan, Indu Ragade, and others. Bringing these Water Leaders and their expertise to      as many buildings in the city with consistent, repeated telling of success stories is the key. Also, Friends of Chennai, such as Mary Eggert, who       have come from afar, have to be acknowledged. Bringing the best leaders together from the World of Water, is achievable in this digital age.       WOW Action Forum is a ‘buddies network’. This is potentially fantastic.

3.  The final point I'd make is that local solutions must be catalogued, as Shekar Raghavan has done so well. There are numerous inspiring       instances in and around Chennai and Bangalore. We need to track them, have the Solution Adopters speak, share their enthusiasm, confidence,       and the success they have seen. We will reach our objective if we continue to expand in these three areas: resources, people, and energy.”

-  Thalappil Pradeep, WOW Chennai Core. 


1. “When I heard of the mission target of 1000 crore litres, I thought it was formidable, difficult to achieve. But it took me no time to make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. I did. We have a population of about one crore in Chennai. And a daily consumption of 100 litres to a person, including industrial use. If we truly want to save 1000 crores, we just need to conserve 9 or 10 days of water per person every year. This appears to be a big area where we can outperform if everyone chips in. There is a lot of promise.

2.  My experience in the apartment I live in, is illustrative of what we can do. We had to raise the maintenance fees by Rs 600 for each apartment only to cover water costs last year. In addition, we discovered people were purchasing bottled water at a monthly cost of Rs 800. Only for water, this meant Rs 1400 per month. At about 200 flats to the apartment, we were squandering about Rs 2.8 lac a month or about 35 lac a year in just our apartment, on things that could be had for a fraction of that cost. And the drinking water we were buying was RO processed, with all the hazards and risks of RO treatment. Why does this happen to my apartments or of thousands of others? Corporation water does not reach us. So we buy by the tankers, pay more for it, we create a softener plant, we enhance our storage tank capacity, we have to have our own water treatment facility, and so on. We spend a lot of money.

3.  These are the two most important aspects. Water bodies make up the third category. There used to be over a thousand lakes. The City has sustained even today on the water supply from Poondi and Chembarambakkam and not by the three rivers of Chennai which have become sewers. The Buckingham canal is another treasure that Chennai has to nurture, and protect. We must consider restoring all these bodies of water at this WOW Action Forum. I'm not sure whether that's a part of this thread, but there's a lot more rain in Chennai than there was in earlier years. The water table is already high, and when it rains, there are floods. Restoring water bodies and developing rainwater collecting sites will make a big difference.”

-  Nandakumar E, WOW Chennai Core. 



1.  “The year 2021 in Chennai is distinct from previous years. We got a lot of rain in the previous ones, which caused overflow and floods in the city. This year, though, we are being flooded by our own groundwater. It's what I'd call ‘healthy fighting’. This is something that most people are unaware of. People want me to install recharge wells whenever there is flooding. I explain to them that flooding is caused only by recharging wells. I'm not arguing that recharging should be avoided. The point is that extraction should be prioritised. We should be aware that there is an alluvial layer above the hard rock and another beneath the hard rock.

2.  People should drill wells near their homes and begin extracting water; only then will the threat of floods subside.

3.  Chennai has a six-month water flat rate. It is not proportional to our consumption. People will switch to groundwater if the water tariff is proportional to our usage. We should learn our lessons from 2021 and set specific citizen action targets, and hope the City Administration and Government will also endorse it.”

 -  Sekhar Raghavan, WOW Chennai Core.


There are isolated pockets of excellence in various colonies, housing estates, and other places. I believe that when you compare Asia in terms of development, all of them have offered us lessons in implementing the Modern operational maintenance approach for managing non-revenue water loss. We must pay close attention to this whether we're dealing with a utility, an individual client, a colony, or a tenant building, since it specifies the amount of water produced vs. the volume of water billed. We have some really awful instances of this in India. Today, in Chennai, we need to undertake a comprehensive study on something called water balancing. Similarly, in order to truly effect water savings in Chennai, we must address challenges at the city level. We're talking about a 1000 CR litre capacity. This is extremely feasible.

-  Ashok Natarajan.



1.   The first step in launching a campaign in Chennai was to create a background tone. Basically, to comprehend what is going on in Chennai in terms of public water supplies, in-house water supplies from wells and borewells, and tanker water supply dependencies. We produced a report, which I will distribute to all of you. In effect, we know very little about groundwater sources. We need to understand Chennai’s aquifer across the city’s geographic spread. It is this aquifer that was classified as ‘ground zero’ two years ago but has since rebounded back; it is this aquifer that meets our needs in every drought.

2.   During the 1981 drought, I think metro water supplied just 90 million gallons per day. We were able to access about 600 MLD of ground water from the city’s wells and borewells. We must comprehend these underground sources. Following the drought research, we were able to locate islands of possible areas inside Chennai city limits that may meet roughly 100 mld. We were unable to switch to a decentralised water delivery system simply because we were trapped with the centralised system. It's important to comprehend Chennai's groundwater aquifers since this reduction strategy functions as a flood moderator and drought mitigator.

 -  Sekhar Raghavan, WOW Chennai Core.

WOW Bengaluru Leaders speak…

(Here are memorable excerpts from the meeting of WOW Bangalore #26 of January 15, 2022)


“A podcast from Deccan Herald provides an excellent overview of how Bangalore requires about 18 TMC of water supply a year, and nearly 15 TMC or 70 percent of it can be secured by good, simple measures to harvest the rains, manage the lakes and stabilise supply of water. Bangalore can become a water-surplus city with a bit of smart management. We use around 100 crore litres of Kaveri Basin water and another 100 crore litres of groundwater. We utilise 200 crore litres of water in total every day. If we use efficient rainwater collecting and sewage treatment, we might still have a water surplus. We should fill all the city’s tanks that have survived.”

-  Ganesh Shanbhag, WOW Bengaluru Core Member


“In 2018, the NITI Aayog published a report. I'd like to draw attention to three points from this. The first is that India would suffer a severe water shortage by 2030, with demand exceeding supply. The second issue is that 21 Indian cities may run out of ground water, affecting 100 million people. By 2020, this was anticipated to happen. However, some good rains protected us. This might happen as early as 2025. Third, if the government does not effectively address the issue of rainwater conservation or water conservation technologies, India’s GDP may be reduced by roughly 6% by 2050. This is a colossal sum. As of 2021, our overall GDP is estimated to be approximately 200 lakh crores – or nearly USD 3 trillion. The loss from water impact equates to roughly Rs 12 lakh crores, a significant sum. No country will accept even a half-percentage-point drop in GDP, and they will go to great lengths to guarantee that GDP improves or stays the same. That is why, in February, the national Jala Shakti project, India’s water mission, launched a campaign called "Catch the Rain: When it Falls, Where it Falls." 

-  Suresh Pai, WOW Bengaluru Mission Director


“I'd like to discuss two rainwater gathering techniques. Rainwater harvesting is a supply-side solution to a supply-side problem. What we sometimes overlook in general talks or when I speak with individuals in communities is the conservation element of the issue. As a result, rainwater collection falls within the category of supply management. What matters just as much is how we preserve water. As a result, demand management and supply management must work hand in hand.”

-  Sunil Mysore, WOW Bengaluru Key Speaker


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


Installation of well in the Railways Underpass

These are pictures of the Installation of an V-wire injection well in the Railways Underpass, which becomes waterlogged and unusable during the wet season. The entire reason for which they were created is obliterated. This system not only prevents water logging; it also recharges groundwater. We have installed more than 30 of these systems this season. Each injection well can hold a minimum of 50,000 gallons of rainwater per day and as much as 2 lakh litres.

- Vijayaraj Shishodya


Vijayraj, you've done a fantastic job. If you do this method again, could you possibly make a series of films, each lasting around 2 minutes, from the beginning to the end? People should pursue it since it will be educational. Perhaps a few of them will come to you for execution. These videos may be disseminated through WOW, BAF, and anyone who will help spread the word.

-  UVS Rao  


This is something we need to encourage. What a fantastic thing for nature to have two in one.

-  Neel Mathews

WOW Trichy and Chennai Launched! Some inputs given by Core members

Trichy and Chennai have both been launched successfully. Thanks to Dr Narasimha Rao of Bridge Foundation and Citizens for Uyyakondan, and Mr Cowlagi Sripati, of ICCW, Chennai. They are the mission directors for the WOW Action Forum in the two cities.There's a slew of action concepts and viewpoints to choose from. What were your impressions of the event from those who were there? Those who were unable to attend the Trichy WOW AF Meeting might listen to a recording of the event.

B A C K L O G     R E P O R T    F R O M    P R O F.    M U N I    R A V A L,    S U R A T

WaterVoices presents an unusual voice this time. Muni Raval studied limnology in 1967. He’s been an advisor to NGT, and has taught and interacted in many multiple forums over 50 years. You may not agree. Or you may be offended if you’re an IITian with these provocative observations. We edited a little but retained his intent. Read on…

“Thanks a lot WOW. Very enthusiastic activists who are committed without any promise of a reward. My salute to them all. Just a query. All these efforts are in the direction of increasing fresh water supply. Yes, absolutely needed. Now let us imagine what if this planet had 3% (not 0.3%) as available fresh water? Would we be better off? Fact today is we are unable to manage problems of wastewater arising from 0.3% of available fresh water. What would happen if we had 3% or even 30 % fresh water of the world's water? Perhaps we would have ended up with a pandemic every month or a year. So why talk about water conservation? As Sandra Postel said, "If we understand water, its conservation is unnecessary. Nothing else matters if we don't." She won the World Water Award in 2017. आपो हि ष्ठा मयोभुवस्था न ऊर्जे दधातन … our sages have said this eons ago.

The WOWAF recording of Chennai’s leaders is here.  

-  Editor, WaterVoices

Numerous measures on the ground are required to attain the aim and raise awareness. However, data collecting on current water consumption and prospective savings in various categories must be mapped. In Chennai or Trichy, the number of completed water conservation projects should be monitored as a result. 

-  Suresh A Pai                                                      


I'll give you two points.

1. Please let me know what kind of conversation the WOW team needs from the Bangalore Apartment Federation in order to get a pilot project off the ground.

2. Skill development: It would be extremely beneficial to the apartment complex if we could train a few STP technicians on the operation of STP or implement a train the trainer programme on STP to improve maintenance. There are several skill shortages in this field. This is something we talked about with BWSSB in 2018, but they don't have the resources, therefore they're recommending that BAF form a partnership with a non-profit in this area.

-  Satish Mallaya                                                     


I agree with Satish that there is a shortage of skilled STP handlers. As a result, STP water is not favoured for flushing in the majority of residences. The entire STP process will be laid out, and a group of people will be trained to manage it. This will help to close the skill gap.

-  Suresh A Pai

R W A    I N I T I A T I V E    P A Y S    O F F

Kalakshetra Colony has built 75 recharge wells

Special Correspondent CHENNAI Residents of Kalakshetra Colony in Besant Nagar have been able to avoid water logging this monsoon because of rainwater recharging wells in open spaces.  


It all began in the late 1990s, when a group of colony residents launched a push to save water and build rainwater recharge wells. Through the efforts of the Kalakshetra Colony Welfare Association and the Greater Chennai Corporation, the region now has almost 75 recharge wells on its roadways, including one on Mahalakshmi Avenue.  


Residents such as Sridhar Chaganti and Shanthi Krishnan were crucial in raising awareness about the importance of building rainwater collecting systems at homes and public areas.  


"In the 1990s, the water in the region was brackish. Groundwater quality improved dramatically when recharge wells were built at traffic intersections. Ms. Krishnan even got a telecommunications provider to build several recharge wells at the time. It aided in the reduction of waterlogging on the roadways "Mr. Chaganti said.  


Priya Rajshekhar, the association's treasurer, claimed the organisation has built 28 recharge wells using its own cash. Groundwater that was 15 feet deep is now only one foot deep. "On the flooded roadways, we intend to install four additional recharge wells. The group is working with the GCC to find a long-term solution to the water stagnation on these major thoroughfares "she stated  


Sekhar Raghavan, director of the Rain Centre, who had backed the group's efforts, suggested that at least two feet on either side of the area's roadways should be left unpaved to allow for improved groundwater percolation.

W A Y    O U T    O F    B E N G A L U R U    R E C U R R I N G    W A T E R    C R I S I S

A city blessed with an annual average rainfall of 787 mm, struggles every summer due to water shortage


Bengaluru's streets were flooded, buildings flooded, and sewers overflowed last year due to heavy rainfall. Harvesting this would have prevented a summer water shortage in the city. Even without a record year, a city endowed with an annual average rainfall of 787 mm might have avoided the ongoing battle to fulfil its annual water demand of 18 TMCft.                                                                                                                                                                

A R C H I T E C T S    P R O P O S E D,    E N G I N E E R S    D I S P O S E ,

B O T A N I S T S    W A T C H    H E L P L E S S L Y .........

The lack of knowledge on the amount of water used for the aesthetic construction of structures

This is a recount from Prof Muni Raval, of Surat. “The Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) withdrew a flush valve that architects recommended to eliminate any hardware display in 1996. Without any prior understanding of water, the focus was only on aesthetics. BMC thereafter insisted on dual flushing. In 2004, Jaquar asked me (together with 40 other engineers) to visit their Noida facility and speak with their R&D employees. I didn't show up. Of course, I've been fighting them (J.Co) since 1996, insisting that no one in the world had water to flow through a 1.5" flush valve. So, I've got a lot of stories to tell you. The market has taken advantage of the separation and animosity that exists between architects and the engineering community. And they all point the finger at politicians and authority!”


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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