This Story goes back to 10 good old years.
It had been raining heavily for more than 48 hours. All the Television channels were showing the homes that were filling like water tanks and roads that were flowing like rivers. Myself and my father were sitting on the at our door step watching rain water filling into the parking area and calculating how much more time it might take for the rain water to enter into our house. We saw the rain water climb the first step to our house, the cars in parking looked like they were floating in the gushing rain water. The level of the rain water reached the brim of the second step, my father announced that its better we pack valuable things, electronics and place them at higher levels. It still continued to rain, and we all had become restless. We started moving the packed stuff. In an hours time the rain came to a stand still, this gave my father big relief. This relief was very momentary the very next minute I saw him in a cloud of thoughts, trying to bring out a precaution for a situation like this. Tired and stressed out we all went to bed.
The next morning was pleasant, but was a lot of work. The parking area was messed with sedimentation brought in by the rain water. The tank into which we fill the water for daily purposes was filled with rain water and mud. Apart from this the trees that fell off, the planted area that got deprived of its top soil, the car seats and mats that were dirtied by the muddy rain water, were waiting for our attention. It was very difficult to hire people for work that day, every body was in the same bad situation or probably worse. We all with our other apartment mates cleaned the parking area, pumped out the dirty water from the tank, cleaned, removed all the plant debris and finally cleaned the cars and washed the parking area. That was hell lot of work; it took 10 people working round the clock to finish it off. It was very hard and miserable to see many people lose their homes, washed away in the rain water from their sleeping couches, people sitting on the places where they just could watch their stuff floating away in the rain water, people who lost their cattle. More horrible things, the rain had created havoc, kids drowned in the water bodies created by the rain, a boy who drowned into manhole and died. Thanks to the “Rain God” who spared us form his wicked leash.
The next day was the day for retrospection, we all wanted to find the best possible solution or precaution help as keep away from these situations. The 5 families in apartment were present and the discussion started with finding the reasons for rain water able to almost gulp our house. The reasons we could underline were: black topped roads, concrete tops, poor rain water drainage, faulty construction practices and illegal constructions. What was wrong with our house? We constructed the apartment 10 years ago then and made sure it well complied to good and legal construction practices. Then there was the actual flaw, when the house was constructed it was little above the road level and then i.e. after 10 years it was lower than road level. The explanation for this flaw is every two years the road is reconstructed and every time the maintenance the level of the rises by two inches and in 10 years this more than half foot and then our house below the road level. This fact enabled water to enter more easily and forcefully into the parking. The best solution the fathers gave for this was to raise the level of our parking area by about a foot. The construction work started immediately, everyone were happy and life was back to normal. Some how my heart felt this idea was selfish and just addressing our needs forgetting about our neighbors. If only we raised our ground level it would very easy for the houses down the road to submerge in case of flood. I let my father know my feeling; he smiled and told me that in case of crisis, “You must save yourself before saving others once you are on the safer side you must look back and try to save others”. This explanation had not pleased me.
The next day I saw the workers working on something new, just outside our compound wall. When asked what they doing, they replied that my father asked them dig small pits along the compound wall (in the gap between the compound wall and the road). When my father came back home I urged him to explain why the pits were being dug. My father explained that the plan was to divert rain water seep into the ground. This will not only reduce the down the road flooding but also help to increase the ground water levels. I was so happy to hear this. Though in small magnitude, we are not only helping ourselves but also doing well to environment and others. I got involved in that activity and monitored how the workers were carrying out the work. I choose plants that could be planted. When it was all ready I used to explain to friends demonstrate how my fathers plan works. It made me feel proud.
1. Dig small pits: Dig small pits (2 feet – 3 feet deep) where ever place is available on the ground. Choose place where most of the rain water can collect. Like a place on the downward slope. The place which we chose was down the slope which could collect water that flowed down stream on the road and from our apartments (water that came down the terrace, through the pipe, when it rained)
2. Fill with loose Gravel: Fill half of the pit with loose and granular soil. The loose and coarse soil will fast seepage of water through it.
3. Plant trees: Plant trees in soil. The roots will help hold the soil firmly and will save the soil from being washed away by water.
4. Fill the remaining with coarse aggregate: Fill the remaining volume of the pit with coarse aggregate (kankar). The coarse aggregate filters rain water at first and allow running water to seep through it at much faster rate.
5 years later I was in Civil Engineering final year “I learnt this new term Rain water harvesting” Only to understand that this was renaming the above plan. I had smile of triumph on my face. I took this as a topic for my presentation in final year and did good work on it. I was amazed by the huge technology that was being used in the concept of river water harvesting. I learnt the importance of this concept, how it could save the world from ground water crisis. Rain water harvesting contributes to ground water table; it raises the ground water levels and makes drinking water available in places that are away from water bodies. This practice allows us store and rain water for various domestic purposes. This way we are identifying potential uses of rain water and also in a way contributing an efficient rain water drainage system. When I presented this topic I named my plan as “My pilot project: River water harvesting” and mapped the same to existing highly technical river water harvesting practices. I took back home an excellent grade and was proud to have working pilot plan right in front of my beloved home.