Effective strategies needed to harvest rainwater for sustainable development

If rain water, which comes for free, can be collected and stored, instead of letting it run off, it could be an alternative to back up the main water supply.

Representational Image (PHOTO: Pixabay)

Water is, undoubtedly, the top natural resource we need for our home use. It’s glamorous to possess a stockpile of guns, gold and jewelers but without water, life might prove to be unbearable. With rapid climatic change, increasing in global temperature and population growth, there is a scarcity of potable water in many countries across the world. The gradual falling of water levels is a cause of serious concern not only because it leads to shortage of usable water but also because in coastal areas it causes imbalance in salinity of the area. Rapid industrialisation and disposing chemical waste into water bodies leads to pollution of rivers, lakes and water bodies. This is a global problem and so if we’re not prepared for the eventuality we must find ourselves between a rock and a hard place and therefore needs a speedy solution. The supply of fresh water in this planet cannot be increased. So an alternative method must be sought for. We all take water for granted. It is one of those natural resources that most people do not put a lot of thought into, but in order to continue enjoying that free supply of water for many years, changes must be made. One such method or change to be made is harvesting rainwater.

Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater from surfaces on which rain falls, filtering it and storing it for multiple uses. Rainwater harvesting puts the supply of water back to normal levels. Rainwater harvesting is an innovative technique utilised to harvest rainwater from roofs and other above surfaces to be stored for later use. Rain harvested water can be used for garden and crop irrigation, watering livestock, laundry and flushing toilets. However, we cannot use harvested rainwater for showering, bathroom sink or kitchen use because it’s not really fit for consumption. In normal scenario, the rainwater is collected from roof buildings and then stored inside of a special tank. Rainwater harvesting is an easy and economical way to deal with the water crisis. As men are becoming environment responsible, rainwater harvesting is gaining popularity leading to eco-conservation and constructive use of natural resource. Falling water tables are widespread and most people in urban areas are dependent on bottled water which is neither cost-effective nor dependable. The possibility of pollution cannot be completely ruled out. The question of water security is a major issue in many parts of the world.

Rainwater harvesting can be a permanent solution to the problem of water crisis in different parts of the world. This simple method can put forward a solution which will be workable in areas where there is sufficient rain but the groundwater supply is not sufficient on one hand and on the other surface water resource is insufficient. Although the earth is three-fourth water; very little of it is suitable for human consumption or agriculture. Rainfall is unpredictable and there is a constant shortage of water in countries which are agriculture dependent or generally drought prone. A bad monsoon means, low crop yield and shortage of food. Even animals suffer from scarcity of water. The farmers are the most affected because they do not get sufficient water for their yields. Rainwater harvesting, therefore is an ideal solution for farmers who depend on monsoon for consistent water supply. Unavailability of clean water compels the consumption of polluted water, giving rise to water-borne diseases and high rate of infant mortality. If rain water, which comes for free, can be collected and stored, instead of letting it run off, it could be an alternative to back up the main water supply especially during dry spells. The importance of rainwater harvesting lies in the fact that it can be stored for future use, it is cost effective, a source of water for landscape irrigation, it is a simple method and easy to practice, it reduces soil erosion and pollution of water bodies due to fertilizers and pesticides. In areas having sparse and irregular rainfall, scarcity of water is a persistent problem. It cannot be completely resolved but can be mitigated through rain water harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is an ideal solution to water problems in regions which receives inconsistent rainfall throughout the year. In addition to great advantages, the rainwater harvesting system has few disadvantages like unpredictable rainfall; unavailability of the proper storage system; if the system is not installed correctly, it may attract mosquitoes and other water-borne diseases.

The most common methods for rainwater harvesting are: surface runoff harvesting and rooftop rain water harvesting.  Surface runoff harvesting is most suitable in urban area. Here, rain water flows away as surface runoff and can be stored for future use. Surface runoff rainwater in ponds, tanks and reservoir built for this purpose. This can provide water for farming, for cattle and also for general domestic use. Rooftop water harvesting can be done in individual homes or in schools. Rooftop rainwater can be harvested through existing tube wells also recharged pits can be constructed to hold rain water. Some of the techniques of rain water harvesting are: Rainwater Barrels; Dry system; Green roof system; wet system etc. Effective water management is very essential for the growth and development of any country. Unless water problem is adequately addressed with sufficient planning and care, life on earth itself could be threatened in the years to come. Every drop of water should be judiciously utilised to increase productivity and its wastage must be minimised. Effective strategies should be made to harvest water for sustainable development. 

First Published:April 26, 2021, 12:56 p.m.

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