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26 Edition
April 2022


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This report of early April 2022 shows how obvious the challenge is, and how deep the malaise is growing, with no attention offered. A simple working from the WOW team presented here shows you how the supply of water from BWSSB costs one billion Carbon kg while use of deep borewells by water-users and by tankers account for a second billion kg. 

At the WOW Chennai #07 meeting, held on 7 April this lively exchange took place. Insights :

Integrate the small with big plans

I have been struggling for the last 35 years, showing the example in front of my house in the stormwater drain. A small trench filled with aggregates and other things and after 20 years with a lot of effort we could push it into the bylaw for the city ward around Nandini Layout. Now in the new layout it is a byelaw in Bangalore. In any new layout, every stormwater drain should have a trench for infiltration at intervals of 50 to 100 metres depending on the terrain. We have done that in this city ward to the west of Bangalore. 

If you look at the entire city, there are more than 700 parks in Bangalore where we need to implement rainwater harvesting. The government doesn’t include this in the larger planning at all because they are very small in size, finance and sanctions are cumbersome for officials, and the making of project reports is a challenge. We need Citizens groups to see that these parks are made a part and parcel of the city’s planning. The focus unfortunately remains only on mega projects which get promoted. 

The citizen partnerships that have come up in Bangalore dedicated to rainwater harvesting for individual homes and for groundwater recharge, has shown that many houses and apartments have taken to such RWH processes. Well, the success rate may not be very significant but it has made a dent. Certain areas have shown very good results and others in the neighbourhood have been inspired by such success stories. This has brought some measurable change. 

-  A R Shivakumar

Nourish the Source of Chennai’s Water

In India we have a large number of reservoirs. This is part of our rich history for several centuries. This is the way the river’s silt is trapped and the river’s sediment starts mounting when a dam is constructed across a river. It is like a storage zone for sediment as well as the water and and its estimated deposit. Such silt deposit alone is estimated to be around 2% every year. The sedimentation rate is increasing. In India the annual rate of sedimentation is 0.5 percent. This is a critical factor when you plan to increase the water-holding capacity of a reservoir. Adopting some best management practices will help reduce the sedimentation rate within the reservoir.

-  Abdul Wahid

At the WOW Bangalore #32 held on 9 April this lively exchange took place. Insights :

Kids can bring change

This is a decade of citizen science. At Development Alternatives, the Delhi based NGO) we working on an initiative in Udaipur that involves citizens in water harvesting, understanding hydrological models and the watershed of the area. We are trying to involve schools, colleges and citizen groups. I think that’s what is needed in all cities. What is missing is the will power to do things.  Leaders like the BWSSB PRO Manjunath and the Rainman AR Shivakumar can inspire local citizens to engage and involve, especially women at the ward level. Women can bring change. School children can help secure data. We should look at data-driven solutions. Teachers can motivate school monitors and team leaders to visit homes in the neighbourhood and do basic surveys of water consumption. Tell households of the water harvesting potential. If this can be mapped and showcased it will help the school and an enabling NGO to understand  groundwater health and how it has worsened in the last 10 years in the area. Where water harvesting is done, kids should map how much is harvested and used. How much has it reduced the pressure on need for freshwater. 
In Udaipur we worked on this plan with communities. We have a fluoride and nitrate problem in that city and so we linked our work with the water quality issues. We are planning to link all these things. We have created ‘water cafes’ and we are now planning to start work with a Polytechnic Institute which has a large number of willing student volunteers who wish to join the campaign. 

- K Vijayalakshmi

Should we pay a penalty and violate….?

There is rainwater harvesting, there is grey water management, there is RO water rejection and various other things. So all of this is actually going to benefit the residential RWAs and builders. But somewhere we are finding that though they are also aware of the benefit, there is reluctance and there are people who are willing to pay a penalty rather than follow rules. I'm sure they will do the same for rainwater harvesting and say, ‘Let me pay a penalty and continue.’ If you think of paying a penalty then you are saying it’s okay to violate. That is not the right approach because you will only encourage such serial offenders. We have to create a kind of ‘value proposition’, because the RWAs should see the benefit. If we are able to put it across in a manner that they are able to see the benefit to themselves both financially and waterways, they will be early adopters.

- E Nandakumar

Kids appeal to adults to not waste water

We are enforcing the installation of aerators right now in our apartment in Bangalore. A few blocks have agreed, but we are not getting enough people to allow the plumber to get in and install the aerators in all faucets. Some residents have joined the campaign to push this through children with who we are sharing a lot of YouTube videos. Some kids are also trying to create videos themselves. They have started asking questions of their parents. Why can't we say we reduce wastage of water. I am going with an agenda saying, reduce wastage of water by using aerators rather than saving.

-  Suresh Prakash

If we get people to engage

There are two things. One is, you know 46-47% of the population of India is under 25 years old and not represented in school. How do we address this segment? Second, we can't depend on the government for anything. If we tie those two together and if we get young people to engage we will have a way forward. The young will be creative, they're the ones who can truly spread the word. We need to be mindful of the fact that the government moves too slow even if they agree to move. Will penalties work? Experience shows it won’t. If the next generation engages the old will listen. Thank you so much for putting this together. It’s a great conversation. I just look for more young people to hear it and respond with action.

- Frank Slovenec

It costs 2 billion Carbon KG every year to supply water to Bangalore


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As our water storage has run out after seven months of feeding the house’s need, we tested the incoming lines and took in 4000 litres– not from the grid outside, not from a deep borewell, but with water from the natural well at home. Our home is testimony to how you can manage without water from the outside, if you only spent a little managing your plot and storage well.

- Neel Mathews

Nice! BWSSB generally gives Jal Puraskar to citizens. You should be one among them.

- Ganesh Shanbhag

Mr Ashok Kumar who did a session in WOW in Jul '21 had collected some details to put in the national water mission, but didn't have any update.

- Neel Mathews

Jal puraskar is given only to BWSSB customers. If we survive without BWSSB water, and add in water conservation measures like water aerators, RWH , STP treated water reuse etc . it will be sad to see such effort going without recognition from water Board.

- Satish Mallaya

Anyway, I was not aware and it doesn't bother us. We will keep doing regardless of such awards.

- Neel Mathews

I had shared a water bill from my Hubballi home, where the water board had put a penalty for not using any water during last rainy season.

- Ganesh Shanbhag

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

Solutions that will make you rich in savings


Here are simple, brilliant solutions. How do we get people to take to it? These ideas are so rich in savings that people should pay for them. 


Upendra Raval of Surat writes, “We will have to rewrite our texts all over again. For example, in a 10 storey building water supplied to first and lower floors is raised to a 135 feet overhead tank. Why? What about the water footprint of power used for pumping water to that height for say 50 years? Even a vegetable vendor knows that after loading the first floor quota, he carries the rest to second and so on? A fear-driven design, that once water is lifted, it comes back with gravity in case of power failure, drives this absurd solution of pumping to the top and driving water down by gravity. 

“In all my projects, say e.g., a 12 storey building, I have designed 3 storeys in 4 sections, through a pressure system that ensures water for the lower floors is never raised to the overhead tank at the top.

  1. We overlook the water footprint of power generation.

  2. Rainwater belongs to the soil. Running through soil maintains soil moisture, thereby soil health. The soil functions as a bioreactor. Only after completing the process water reaches aquifers. Dumping pure rainwater into aquifers through a pipe does not maintain soil health.

  3. Terrace water runs through a chamber that has gravel. All atmospheric acids react with the gravel. But Ca, Mg, CO3, HCO3s do not stay with the soil. As a result, soil microbiota is deprived of its natural salts.

  4. Even sprinklers have a flawed soil wetting– over-wetting some areas while other areas get less. Power used, and thereby water in power generation is not considered.

  5. It (sprinklers) further increases the salinity of the soil. 

Editor’s note: Nearly all working professionals do not realise that 1 MWh of power generation has 30 to 40 m cubed or 30-40 thousand litres of water footprint. Each middle class home uses 6000 units a year. Or 24000 units of source power generated. That’s 720,000 litres of embodied water used by every home.

Raindance on the Rooftop


Raindance on the Rooftop is a lovely book that every citizen should read. Put together by AR Shivakumar []. The book’s lucid narrative can help you harvest water from the sky at your home, and in every building.

Nature has paid him back in full measure…


Meet A. R. Shivakumar, formerly of the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science who gets very indignant about the terribly wasteful manner in which we use natural resources like water and sunlight. That is why when he built his house in 1994-95, in a suburb of Bangalore, Vijayanagar, he consciously adopted several techniques. He installed rainwater pipes to recharge groundwater and harvested rainwater for use. He ensured all water usage points like bathrooms, toilets, kitchen and utility area came as close as possible to an open duct which carries all the pipes. The drip and sprinkler irrigation system cost Rs.320 to install and the rainwater harvesting equipment cost Rs.150 while the rainwater charging cost Rs.1,600. Nature has paid him back in full measure.

Reduced rainfall, threat of sea-level rise may severely impact coastal freshwater aquifer by 2050


To alleviate seawater intrusion, the government must control development of high-rise buildings along ECR and reduce groundwater extraction and maintain the freshwater aquifer


Chennai's yearly rainfall may decline somewhat during the next three decades. The vulnerable freshwater coastal aquifer along East Coast Road is expected to be impacted by rapid urbanisation, the threat of sea-level rise, and a decline in rainfall, according to a research from Anna University's Department of Geology.

Due to climate change, yearly rainfall in the city may decline at a pace of 6.4 mm per year until 2050. In the same way, the seasonal average rainfall may drop. For example, rainfall in the Northeast monsoon may decrease at a pace of 7.4 mm each year.


Ravi Chopra speaks on What Ails Ganga… and offers startling insights on how there are ‘Tiger widows’ in the Sunderbans; how tigers don’t recognise the back of a human’s face and so villagers wear face masks that look like the back of a human’s head; why Gangajal doesn’t putrefy; how 90 percent of all natural honey in India is harvested in the Sunderbans; how the Ganga supports 10 types of forests on its 3000 km course; how floods are not a threat but are life-supporting. This presentation is a veritable treat for anyone wanting to understanding the complexity of biodiversity.


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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