Much has been written in recent years about rainwater harvesting. While the literature has certainly elevated interest in this practice, there is very little material to explain in simple terms how people can carry out an informed attempt to introduce RWH in their homes and communities.

This Citizen Matters 4-part series authored by Bangalore-based Rainwater Club shows the way to implementing rainwater harvesting in a particular context: the gated layout.

In the beginning

When residents move into their new homes in a layout, they are occupied with setting up the home and making sure their daily requirements of water, electricity, grocery and other services are met. There is a tendency to assume that the layout developer will ensure proper water management. And indeed they often do manage the water supply, for a time.

Rain barrel

Rain barrel. Pic: Rainwater Club.

But more often than not, the developer either does not value sustainable resource management or does not know how to go about achieving it. Moreover, in the absence of a long-term maintenance contract, most developers leave the layout and control of all services in the hands of the residents after the last home has been built. At some point, concerned residents begin to recognize the critical importance of managing the layout’s water efficiently and effectively.

Given that layouts develop mostly on the city’s outer rings, they are off the public water utility’s service grid and must source their own water. Because there is no agency or company to depend upon to secure their future water supply, residents come to see responsible water management not as a choice, but an imperative to protect the investment they made on their new home.

Rooftop RWH

Rooftop RWH. Pic: Rainwater Club.

Rainwater harvesting (RWH), including rooftop collection for domestic use and groundwater recharge, can be instrumental in efforts to achieve water sustainability. To implement this practice throughout the layout, committed residents must come together to carry out a process to familiarise residents with the RWH concept and generate support for it.

Before beginning this process, however, it is important to address some key issues that will arm you with the requisite information to make a strong case for sustainable water management to your fellow neighbours.

3 steps to preparing your RWH efforts

Step 1 - Ask yourself: Why Rainwater Harvesting?

It is important to understand the main objectives of rainwater harvesting in your layout since this will help determine the strategy and design of a Rainwater Harvesting system in
your specific context

  • Is it a source of supplemental water (thus reducing demand from your existing sources)?
  • Is it to recharge ground water sources as you are dependent on borewells/open wells?
  • Is it also as a flood control measure?

Your answers to these questions will help determine the most appropriate RWH interventions. Indeed, in many cases RWH is implemented to achieve all three of these objectives.