Blog

Water Management

RAIN WATER HARVESTING AND GROUND WATER RECHARGE AT HOME LEVEL

Every year, India gets monsoon rains but we capture less than 10% of it. This is one of the main reasons why more than 70% of our country’s groundwater aquifers have run dry as we are only extracting water from the ground but not putting anything back. This water crisis is impacting more than 60 crore people across India. By 2030, India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply. Water crisis in Cape Town in South Africa and Chennai in South India are warning signs of what lies ahead unless every Indian becomes water wise.

Environment problems are best sorted if they are tackled at source. We need to respect the rain that falls on our roof top and not let it flow into the gutter. This film shows how an independent house in any city, town or village in India can save lakhs of litres of water during the rainy season every year by a very simple and cost effective way of storing rain water in an underground tank and redirecting the overflow into a ground water recharge pit.

Disrespecting water by not using rain water which we get as a free gift from nature every year and simply allowing it to flow into the drain is criminal when India is facing it’s biggest water crisis. Doing both rain water harvesting (collecting and storing rainwater) and groundwater recharge in every rural and urban house in India will ensure that our country’s ground water levels go up and we do not see day zero conditions when our taps will run dry.

Steps for Rain Water Storage and Ground Water Recharge in an Independent House: 

  • Slope of the rooftop in your house should be towards the drain outlet on the roof so the rain water falling on the roof easily flows to this outlet.
  • There should be a steel wire mesh put on this outlet which provides the first level of filtration before this rain water goes into the pipe.
  • Rooftop surface must be kept relatively clean so the water does not collect too many impurities.
  • A filter should ideally be put to clean this rain water before storing it. You might have to break the wall a little to trace the pipe carrying the roof top rain water down.
  • Make an underground tank to store the rain water. After the storage tank gets full, the excess rain water can be re-routed to the ground water recharge pit in your house.
  • Recharge pit can be made by using sand, gravel, pebbles as filtration media.

“We installed the rainy filter in our house and got a 10,000 litre tank constructed to store the rainwater. With the kind of rains we get in Jaipur (in the desert state of Rajasthan), we are able to collect 1,00,000 plus litres of rain water every monsoon which we use for all our household chores during the rainy season (for our drinking water needs after filtering it in the kitchen, cooking, washing, mopping, gardening etc) instead of using municipal piped water or the ground water. This helps to reduce our water footprint in a big way and improve the ground water levels in our neighbourhood,” says Sunil Pachar. For more details, Mr. Pachar can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in

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Water filter installed in Mr Pachar’s house to filter the rain water coming down from the roof 
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A 10,000 litre underground storage tank built in Mr Pachar’s home to store filtered rain water

For more information on rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge, please visit the following links:

https://www.indiawaterportal.org/questions/frequently-asked-questions-faqs-rainwater-harvesting-rwh

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/rooftop-rainwater-harvesting-to-empower-individual-home-owners/articleshow/57447707.cms?from=mdr

Feedback

For any comments, feedback or clarifications on this blog, please write to the author Neelam Ahluwalia at this email id: healingourcities1@gmail.com

Other Water Blogs & Films on this Website

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/14/impact-of-ro-water-filters-on-human-health-and-indias-water-crisis/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/recycling-grey-water-in-homes-natures-way/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/water-aerators-reduce-water-use-substantially/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/06/water-rich-homes/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/02/23/water-rich-communities/

https://healingourcities.org/water-management/

Water Management

GROUND WATER RECHARGE USING NATURALLY PURIFIED GREY WATER

Greywater is water from the bathroom and kitchen sinks, bathing area and washing machines. While greywater may look ‘dirty’, it is a safe source of water (after natural purification) for watering your home garden. Letting it mix with the sewage water from your toilets and go into the drain is a criminal waste of water when India is in the midst of a huge water crisis

WHY IS REUSING GREY WATER IMPORTANT?

According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), more than 70% of water supplied per household per day in India is consumed in the kitchen, in the bathing area  and for washing clothes. Treating this grey water, reusing the purified grey water for watering your home garden and then channelising it into the ground will result in:

  • Huge saving of water and reduction in your water bill.
  • Keeping the grey water out of the sewer system, thereby not allowing it to pollute the local water bodies.
  • Improving the ground water table in your neighbourhood.

This film and blog explains how grey water from your home can be treated and purified naturally in a simple and cost effective way and be directed into the ground to recharge the ground water table where you live. With 70% of India’s water aquifers having dried up and India facing a huge water crisis, every urban and rural family having an independent house can contribute towards improving our nation’s rapidly depleting ground water levels by implementing grey water management in this natural way.

STEPS FOR PURIFYING GREY WATER AND DIRECTING IT INTO THE GROUND

Re-route Grey Water from the House to the Garden Area 

The first step is to re-route the pipes from your bathroom (carrying the water from the washbasins and the bathing area), area where the clothes are washed and the kitchen sink in your house to your garden area such that they do not mix with the pipe carrying the sewage water from the toilet flushes. This would require some plumbing work but is easily doable in an individual house either at the stage where the house is being constructed or even later. Mrs Savargaonkar did some plumbing work in her house much after it was built in such a way that the 3 pipes carrying water from her rooftop garden, washing machine area and kitchen sink drain at 3 different places in the garden patch outside her house. 

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Make Pits to Treat and Purify Grey Water in a Natural Way

Mrs Savargaonkar got 3 pits dug in her garden for treating the grey water coming out of the 3 pipes. Size of each pit is 1 metre by 1 metre by 1 metre. Each pit has been given a 4 to 6 inch slope at the bottom in the direction of the natural flow of water on the road next to the garden. At the bottom of each pit, gravel has been put for about 6 inches. Above that sand has been put for 12 inches. Whatever place was left at the top, dry leaves were put. Dry leaves act as natural carbon material which is a very important part of the grey water purification process.

“When I started doing the grey water filtering process, I realised that with water going into the pits, the dry leaves would get compacted. I simply put more dry leaves on the top of the pits. In addition to dry leaves, you can also use wood husk, dry tree branches, tree barks, crop husk, plant residues (any of these or in combination) as carbon material in the grey water purification pits,” says Poornima Savargaonkar. 

Put Naturally Water Purifying Plants around the Grey Water Pits

After 3 months, Mrs Savargaonkar planted naturally water purifying plants such as Kaina, Banana, Syngonium, Umbrella Palm and Spider Lily around the 3 grey water pits in her garden.

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I do not use non-chemical based natural detergents for washing utensils and clothes in my home but use commercially available soaps and detergents. This soapy grey water is filtered through the layers of carbon rich dry leaves, sand and gravel in the pits before it reaches the ground. These water purifying plants do the job of  soaking the leftover chemicals in the grey water. This ensures that the water going down into the ground is pure, chemical free water. Banana plant has been specifically put next to the water outlet pipe from the kitchen which has only the non-soapy water that drains out after washing vegetables, grains and pulses. This nutrient rich water helps in getting good quality bananas for consumption by my family members,” says Mrs Savargaonkar. 

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Use Natural Insecticide to keep Mosquitoes & Bugs Away from the Grey Water Pits

Twice a year and specifically once before or after the monsoon rains, Mrs Savargaonkar puts a handful of Rakh (powder obtained from burning of wood) or Choona (lime used in construction of houses) in the grey water pits as this acts as a very effective natural insecticide to keep mosquitoes and bugs away. 

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I personally found no smell or saw any stagnation or any mosquitoes or bugs around Poornima Savargaonkar’s grey water pits and can personally vouch for how happy the plants in her garden looked! If every family who has an independent house in India (in every village, every town and every big city) implements grey water management like Mrs. Savargaonkar, we as citizens can make a huge difference in improving the depleting ground water levels of our country and avoiding day zero scenarios when our taps will run dry.

Feedback

For any comments, feedback or clarifications on this blog, please write to the author Neelam Ahluwalia at this email id: healingourcities1@gmail.com

For any further clarifications on grey water treatment talked about in this blog, reach out to poornima.skar@gmail.com

Links to Other Water Blogs & Films on this Website

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/14/impact-of-ro-water-filters-on-human-health-and-indias-water-crisis/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/water-aerators-reduce-water-use-substantially/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/28/rain-water-harvesting-and-recharge-at-home-level/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/06/water-rich-homes/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/02/23/water-rich-communities/

https://healingourcities.org/water-management/

Water Management

WATER AERATORS REDUCE WATER USE SUBSTANTIALLY

There is nothing more essential to life on earth than water. From Cape Town in South Africa to Asia’s teeming mega cities, the world is in the midst of a huge water crisis. This film and blog talks about how putting water aerators in taps helps to reduce water use by almost 60 percent per tap. In these water stressed times, this simple and cost effective solution should be implemented in every home, institution and office complex across the globe.

Key Attributes of Water Aerators

Size: They mostly come in 3 sizes (16 mm, 20 mm, 24 mm).

Shape: They mostly come in round shape but some designer faucets are rectangular and square too.

Type: They help dispense water in 3 forms (mist, spray, foam).

Flow rate: They have varied flow rates ranging from 2 litres per minute to 30 litres per minute.

How Does One Know Which Type of Aerator to Buy?

Sunil Pachar, Sustainability Consultant who supplies water aerators to individuals, residential communities, corporates and institutions says that aerators must be chosen on the basis of the purpose for which the tap is used. Aerators for wash basins, kitchen sinks, showers are all different. Size of the aerator can be measured by measuring the dimension of the outlet of the tap which your local plumber can help you with. The most common size in case of the bathroom wash basin and the kitchen sink is 24 mm.

People can easily save 20-25% of fresh water in their homes or places of work just by using aerators as per the below recommended specifications:

Wash basins: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 1-4 litres per minute (lpm) as hands can be comfortably washed at this speed.

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Dish washing: Foam type aerator with flow rate of 5-10 litres per minute as washing utensils needs more water as compared to washing hands.

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Bath showers: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 9-10 litres per minute.

Jet sprays: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 2-5 litres per minute.

Gardening: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 2-5 litres per minute.

Neoperl and Eco 365 are good quality aerator brands. You can order the aerators online keeping in mind the above specifications. Other brands can be sourced online and in local markets as well but quality could be an issue. I personally bought Neopearl water aerators (German based leading global brand) for all the taps in my home and they are working very efficiently. For those who use showers for bathing, please buy aerators for your showers as well. Sunil Pachar, Sustainability Consultant can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in for help in sourcing the water aerators.

Installing Water Aerators – Effective Water Saving Solution at the Community and Institution Level

You can convince your office management and community resident welfare organisation (RWA) to install water aerators in all the bathroom and kitchen sinks of your office and all the homes in your condominium / township respectively. Raman Chawla, RWA President of Ireo Grand Arch in Gurgaon city says, “Ireo Grand Arch condominium, located off Golf Course Extension Road in Gurgaon is home to 700 families. We have been dependent on getting water from tankers every day as the municipality water lines only meet about 10-40 percent of our total water needs as supply is very erratic. At current consumption levels, residents pay a sum of INR 0.52 per sq ft for water use which works out to about INR 1200 per month for an average size 3 bedroom apartment. As part of the strategy that we devised to reduce our condominium’s water use, our RWA decided to use funds from our corpus to install water aerators in the kitchen and bathroom sinks of all the flats. This simple step of installing water aerators has helped to bring down overall water use per household by 20-25% in Ireo Grand Arch. Buying in bulk reduces the price of the aerators significantly. Our RWA paid INR 80-85 per water aerator for a leading German brand called NeoPearl that we purchased from Mr. Sunil Pachar, Sustainability Consultant who helps condominiums and institutions in doing a water audit and then helps them devise a strategy to reduce their water footprint, build ground water recharge structures etc.”

Feedback

For any comments, feedback or clarifications on this blog, please write to the author Neelam Ahluwalia at this email id: healingourcities1@gmail.com

Other Water Blogs & Films on this Website

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/14/impact-of-ro-water-filters-on-human-health-and-indias-water-crisis/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/recycling-grey-water-in-homes-natures-way/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/28/rain-water-harvesting-and-recharge-at-home-level/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/06/water-rich-homes/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/02/23/water-rich-communities/

https://healingourcities.org/water-management/

 

 

 

 

Water Management

RO WATER FILTERS – IMPACT ON HUMAN HEALTH AND INDIA’S WATER CRISIS

India is one of the most water stressed countries in the world. Irresponsible water behaviour and the collective mismanagement of our finite water resources is responsible for our nation’s water crisis. If you use a Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filter in your home or institution or office or you are planning to buy one; this blog is a must read.

HIGH WASTAGE OF WATER FROM RO FILTERS 

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a water treatment process that wastes 3 times water for every one unit of water it purifies. So for every 1 litre of water purified, 3 litres of water goes waste. This high water wastage is the reason the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in May 2019 banned the use of RO filters where the Total Dissolved Solids (essential minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Fluoride etc) in the water are less than 500 milligram/litre (mg/l). In these water stressed times where most Indian cities are racing towards day zero scenario when water will stop coming from our taps, this kind of insane water wastage from RO filters is criminal when many other smarter water purifying technologies are available.

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MISINFORMATION SPREAD BY RO MANUFACTURERS 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) order is based on the reasoning that Reverse Osmosis (RO) as a technology is only meant to treat very high levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in drinking water. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specification, drinking water is considered below par only if the TDS level of the water is above 500 milligram/litre (mg/l). National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and IIT-Delhi submitted a joint report to the NGT. This report has come down heavily on the ‘misinformation campaign’ run by RO manufacturers in India. The report trashes claims by leading RO manufacturers in India about RO technology being able to treat water having high arsenic and fluoride contamination. It states that in areas where water source has heavy metal contamination, appropriate contaminant specific technologies should be used so to bring down concentration of these contaminants. “Application of RO in developed countries is limited to desalination i.e. producing drinking water from sea water which is very saline and has an extremely high level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). RO companies in India have created a lot of fear and myths among the masses because of which the growing use of RO technology in treating low TDS water has been the new normal when the application of RO should only be ‘limited’ to removal of high TDS water,” the report says. 

HEALTH RISK OF DRINKING LOW MINERALISED WATER 

TDS i.e the minerals dissolved in water are extremely important for human health. Drinking water with TDS level of less than 150 mg/l is not considered healthy. “Where the TDS level of your tap water is less than 500 mg/l and you put a RO purifier, it reduces the TDS level of the purified water to an extremely low level which is very detrimental for the health of your family. It is like drinking distilled water without any minerals and health benefits,” says Dr. K. Vijaya Lakshmi, Water Quality Scientist and Vice President, Development Alternatives Group in Delhi. 

DECIDING WHICH WATER FILTER TO BUY 

Dr. K. Vijaya Lakshmi, Water Quality Scientist and Vice President, Development Alternatives Group recommends:

  • Before deciding on which filter to buy for your home or institution, always get the TDS level of the tap water and other essential parameters such as bacterial contamination, iron, arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals etc tested from a reliable lab in your town.
  • If the test done on your tap water shows presence of any pathogenic bacteria or traces of one or more heavy metals, there are water purifying technologies available in the market to deal with this depending on what pollutants are present in the water.
  • RO as a water purifying technology should not be considered as a first option by anyone as it wastes too much fresh water and drinking low mineralised RO water is not good for anybody’s health.
  • There is no need of using RO unless your source water is highly saline and the TDS exceeds 500 mg/l.
  • As a consumer, do not be gullible and keep in mind that sales folks from the water purifying companies try their best to convince you to buy RO purifiers as these cost a lot more than the non RO filters both in terms of capital and recurring costs (of changing RO filter membranes from time to time).

After researching on different water treatment technologies available in the urban market, I personally think that for dealing with biological contamination in water where the TDS level of your tap water is less than 500 mg/l, a water filter with Ultra Filtration (UF) or Ultra Violet Rays (UV) and a carbon block pre filter (that removes chlorine, volatile organic compounds, odours and unpleasant tastes from water) is an effective option. Unlike RO filters, UF or UV filters do not waste water, retain essential minerals in the water (as they do not reduce the TDS level of the water) but filter out bacteria, viruses and parasites efficiently. 

You can check out the following blogs, sites for more information on different kinds of water filtration technologies available for urban and rural areas:

https://www.freshwatersystems.com/blogs/blog/how-an-ultrafiltration-membrane-works

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13201-016-0455-7

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/barcs-nano-filtration-tech-can-help-punjab-get-heavy-metal-free-drinking-water/articleshow/70636331.cms

http://www.taraenviro.com/water-segment.aspx (Jal Tara Water Filters)

http://www.nrhmorissa.gov.in/writereaddata/Upload/Documents/30.%20%20Innovative%20Techniques%20and%20Technology.pdf

TAP WATER TESTING KITS 

TARA, the social enterprise wing of the Development Alternatives Group has a highly reliable, economical and simple to use product called TARA Aquacheck that can be used by any home owner or institution to test the presence of pathogenic bacteria in water which cause common water borne diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, gastroenteritis etc. This product has been prepared as per the quality control guidelines of UNICEF, New Delhi. You can visit the following website for more details on this product and other kinds of water testing kits sold by TARA (to test Dissolved Oxygen, Alkalinity, Hardness, Sulphates, Iron, Fluoride, Arsenic & other water related parameters): http://www.taraenviro.com/products.aspx

CHANGING EXISTING RO FILTER TO A NON RO UNIT 

If the TDS level of your tap water is less than 500 and you have a RO water filter installed in your home or institution, you can get your RO water purifying servicing engineer to help convert your existing RO filter into a normal filter unit. 

  • You should first get the water quality of your tap water checked for bacteria and traces of heavy metal from any reputed lab in your city.
  • If your tap water has any bacteria present in it, you should get your RO water purifying servicing engineer to check if your existing RO system has UV and UF filters (which help to remove bacterial contamination) installed in the unit. If not, these filters can be easily added to your existing unit.
  • The water purifying servicing engineer will take out the RO membrane from your existing RO filter and then your RO can work as a normal water filter which purifies your water without reducing the TDS level of the water and without wasting huge quantities of water in the purification process.

“In October 2019, I had the RO mechanic come to my house for a regular servicing visit and I was talking to him about buying a new non RO filter as the TDS of my tap water was under 250 milligram/litre (mg/l) and I was feeling guilty about wasting so much water in my household as a result of using the RO and giving nearly dead water devoid of essential minerals to my family. He suggested to me that he could just take out the RO membrane from my existing RO system that made it function as a RO unit such that it would then just function as a normal non-RO type of water filter. He told me that my filter unit had a pre existing UV filter so I did not have to worry about bacterial contamination. I agreed. It took my family members 2-3 days to adjust to the new taste of the water which now had more total dissolved solids in it as the RO membrane which was reducing the TDS level to a ridiculously low level (below 100 mg/l) was not present in the water purifier anymore. I am so glad I did this. Every family who has a RO filter should get this done immediately if the TDS of your tap water is less than 500 mg/l,” says Supriya Mohan, a resident of Gurgaon city in India’s water starved National Capital Region.

Dr. K. Vijaya Lakshmi, Water Quality Scientist and Vice President, Development Alternatives Group cautions, “It is extremely critical to keep getting your water filter serviced regularly to ensure efficacy of the filtration process. If you ever see muddy water coming from your kitchen tap, you must immediately switch to boiling of water till you get a technician to come and sort the problem. Boiling water is one of the easiest ways to deal with bacterial contamination in drinking water at home. Ensure that you keep the flame on for 15 minutes after the water starts boiling.” 

REUSING RO REJECT WATER 

If you do need to use the RO filter in case the TDS of your tap water is above 500 mg/l, please ensure that you collect the RO waste water in a drum and reuse it for any or all of the following purposes:

  • Mopping the floors
  • Washing clothes 
  • Cleaning utensils
  • Flushing toilets instead of using fresh water
  • Diluting with normal tap water and using for watering plants

This film talks about how home makers reuse the reject water from their RO water purifiers and other ways in which families can save water.

Reducing water wastage and respecting every drop of water is the  key to solving India’s water crisis and avoid day zero scenarios when our taps will run dry. 

FEEDBACK 

For any comments, feedback or clarifications on this blog, please write to the author Neelam Ahluwalia at this email: healingourcities1@gmail.com

OTHER WATER BLOGS & FILMS ON THIS WEBSITE 

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/recycling-grey-water-in-homes-natures-way/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/water-aerators-reduce-water-use-substantially/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/28/rain-water-harvesting-and-recharge-at-home-level/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/06/water-rich-homes/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/02/23/water-rich-communities/

https://healingourcities.org/water-management/

 

Water Management

WATER RICH HOMES

India is one of the most water stressed countries in the world. With global warming, the Himalayan glaciers are melting fast which is resulting in many perennial streams that feed our rivers to run dry. Demand for water is huge but our limited resources are highly polluted and mismanaged. We have extracted so much water from the ground without putting anything back that more than 70% of our nation’s groundwater aquifers have dried up. The result of our collective mismanagement is that more than 600 million Indians face acute water shortage. Water crisis in Cape Town in South Africa and Chennai in South India are warning signs of day zero scenarios unless each and every family learns to respect water and becomes water wise.

HIGHLIGHTS  OF THE BLOG

This blog showcases 4 short films that highlight the different Rs of water conservation at the home level based on tried and tested solutions: reducing wastage & consumption, reusing water by giving it extra life, naturally purifying grey water & redirecting it back into the earth and storing rain water & recharging ground water. 

This film presents more than 12 practical solutions that individuals and families can easily implement in their homes to prevent day zero conditions when our taps will run dry.

SAVING WATER BY REDUCING WASTAGE OF WATER

Installing Water Aerators in Taps 

This film shows a live experiment which shows that putting a water aerator reduces water use by at least 60 percent from the tap.

Key attributes of water aerators

Size: They mostly come in 3 sizes (16 mm, 20 mm, 24 mm).

Shape: They mostly come in round shape but some designer faucets are rectangular and square too.

Type: They help dispense water in 3 forms (mist, spray, foam).

Flow rate: They have varied flow rates ranging from 2 litres per minute to 30 litres per minute.

How does a home owner decide & know which type of aerator to buy?

Sunil Pachar, Sustainability Consultant who supplies water aerators to individuals, residential communities, corporates and institutions says that aerators must be chosen on the basis of the purpose for which the tap is used. Aerators for wash basins, kitchen sinks, showers are all different. Size of the aerator can be measured by measuring the dimension of the outlet of the tap which your local plumber can help you with. The most common size in case of the wash basin and kitchen sink is 24 mm. 

People can easily save 20-25% of fresh water in their homes just by using aerators as per the below recommended specifications:  

Wash basins: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 1-4 litres per minute (lpm) as we can comfortably wash hands at this speed. 

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Dish washing: Foam type aerator with flow rate of 5-10 litres per minute as washing utensils needs more water than washing hands.

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Bath showers: Spray type aerator with flow rate of  9-10 lpm. 

Jet sprays: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 2-5 lpm.

Gardening: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 2-5 lpm.  

Sunil Pachar can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in for help in buying the right size and model of water aerators. I personally bought Neoperl water aerators (German based leading global brand) for all the taps in my home from Mr. Pachar and they are working much better than the ones I had bought online earlier. “Neoperl (www.neoperl.net) is the market leader with about 70% of the market share. The other players are too small and do not offer the diversity of water aerators that Neoperl provides. Moreover, the quality of Neoperl aerators is far superior as compared to other brands”, says Sunil Pachar.

Changing Your Existing RO Filter to a Non RO Unit

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a water treatment process that wastes 3 times water for every one unit of water it purifies. This high water wastage is the reason the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in May 2019 banned the use of RO filters where the Total Dissolved Solids (essential minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Fluoride etc) in the water are less than 500 mg/l.

vlcsnap-2020-02-19-17h21m55s649

If the TDS level of your tap water is less than 500 mg/l and you have a RO water filter installed in your home, you can get your RO water purifying servicing engineer to help convert your existing RO filter into a normal filter unit so you stop wasting precious water. 

  • You should first get the water quality of your tap water checked for bacteria and traces of heavy metal from any reputed lab in your city.
  • If your tap water has any bacteria present in it, you should get your RO water purifying servicing engineer to check if your existing RO system has UV and UF filters (which help to remove bacterial contamination) installed in the unit. If not, these filters can be easily added to your existing unit.
  • The water purifying servicing engineer will take out the RO membrane from your existing filter and then your RO can work as a normal water filter which purifies your water without reducing the TDS level of the water and without wasting huge quantities of water in the purification process.

Read this blog for more details. https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/14/impact-of-ro-water-filters-on-human-health-and-indias-water-crisis/

Fixing Leaks Promptly

One drip per second equates to 19 litres of water per day wasted. It is critical to call a plumber and fix leaking toilet flushes, pipes and taps immediately to save huge quantities of water going down the drain. Visit https://wateruseitwisely.com/water-detective-finding-fixing-leaks-save-thousands-gallons-year/ for more information & videos on how to fix leaks on your own at home. 

Drinking Water Directly from a Bottle 

In my home, everyone drinks water directly from his or her own water bottle so no water is wasted while sipping from the glass and leaving some water in the glass each time which is eventually thrown down the drain while washing the glass.

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Running Washing Machine & Dishwasher only when Full 

Don’t waste water by running loads that are not full. This will save water, time and electricity by cutting down on the number of loads you do in a week.

SAVING WATER BY REDUCING WATER CONSUMPTION 

Regularly Checking Your Water Meter Readings

National average of water consumption in urban India for a family of 2 adults and 2 children is 500 litres of water per day i.e. 15000 litres per month. It is important to keep your water consumption less than the national average and try to figure ways of reducing your household water footprint every month. The monthly readings on your water meter should be your guide.

Putting a Weighted Bottle in your Toilet Tank

This helps to reduce the amount of water being flushed each time. We have 4 toilets in my home. I have put a 1 litre bottle full of water in each of the toilet flush tanks. The capacity of each toilet flush is 7 litres. Thanks to the 1 litre bottle of water, each time the toilet flush is used, instead of 7 litres going down, only 6 litres of water is flushed down. On an average each toilet in our home is used about 5 times a day. This easy to implement zero cost solution helps to save at least 20 litres of water everyday in my bathrooms!

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Taking Bucket Bath instead of Using a Shower

This saves a lot of water as you know exactly how much water you are using. My daughter and me have disciplined ourselves to use only 3/4 th of a bucket everyday for bathing.

Adjusting the Settings in your Washing Machine

By running your washing machine on manual setting instead of automatic, you can  reduce the number of rinse cycles. This helps reduce water use significantly. 

Using a Sprinkler to Water your Garden Plants

This saves 50% water as compared to using a hose pipe or watering directly from a can.

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Using Mulching to Retain Moisture in the Soil

You can put dry leaves in all your pots and plant beds in your home garden as they form a natural barrier to prevent the soil from losing moisture as a result of exposure to the wind and the sun. This will help reduce water use in your garden by 50%.

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Buying Products that Use Less Water to be Made 

While working with farmers in the drought prone Bundelkhand region in Central India  in 2012 and helping them shift to growing less water intensive crops, I learnt that barley as a grain uses half the water to be produced as compared to wheat. So in my household, we shifted to eating barley rotis for dinner everyday. They are made just like normal Wheat rotis and are actually lighter for the stomach and more easily digestible. Including more of barley and other millets like jwar, ragi, bajra, makki in your family’s daily eating habits will help reduce your family’s water footprint as millets use less water to be grown as compared to wheat and rice. Millets are also nutritionally more healthier grains!As consumers, we need to be water wise in the choices we make vis-a-vis the products we buy and the services we use.

When it comes to clothes, it takes 2700 litres of water to make the average t-shirt and 7600 litres to make one jean. Avoid purchasing new clothes and re-use, re-purpose, re-fashion, up-cycle clothes as much as possible to save water.

When you send your car for servicing, ensure that the company / garage does not wash the car using gallons of fresh water. As consumers, we need to be water wise in the choices we make vis-a-vis the products we buy and the services we use.

SAVING WATER BY REUSING TO GIVE IT EXTRA LIFE

Collecting and Reusing Water Dripping from Air Conditioners

The water dripping from the ACs can be collected in a pot in your balconies and used for feeding birds or watering plants. 

Reusing Reject Water from your RO Filter

If you do need to need to use the RO filter in case the TDS of your tap water is above 500 mg/l, please ensure that you collect the RO waste water in a drum and reuse it for any or all of the following purposes:

  • Mopping the floors
  • Washing clothes
  • Cleaning utensils
  • Flushing toilets instead of using fresh water
  • Diluting with normal tap water and using for watering plants

Collecting and Reusing Water Used in the Kitchen 

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Reusing the water for watering plants

I have personally kept a small bucket in my kitchen which is used to collect the extra water that is drained after cooking rice or pasta, left over water after grains, pulses, green leafy vegetables are washed and any water that is left in glasses or water bottles before they are washed. This is nutrient rich water. I use it to water my home plants. 

Reusing the water for mopping the house

Rolly Jain, a homemaker from Gurgaon washes fruits and vegetables using a home made natural cleanser made by mixing bio enzyme, soda and a little salt. Since this water contains soda and salt, it cannot be used for watering the plants. Rolly reuses the left-over water for mopping her home floors.

To learn how to make bio enzyme at home and understand the importance of using non chemical based cleansers at home, see this Facebook post of Monika Khanna Gulati, co-founder of NCR Waste Matters, a citizen’s awareness and action group in the National Capital Region: 

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10153220661372997&id=533017996

Reusing Water Draining out of the Washing Machine 

Giving this water one extra life

This is simple. Just put the drain pipe of the washing machine in a big size bucket to collect the water. If you are using a market based detergent, then you can reuse this water coming out of the washing machine for mopping the floors in your house. 

Giving this water more than one life and not letting it go into the drain

Rolly Jain, home maker from Gurgaon says, “Earlier I used to use normal detergent in my washing machine. But as my level of eco-consciousness increased, I decided not to contribute to the horrible state of pollution of our groundwater and water bodies by using chemical based washing detergents. I started making an eco-friendly natural liquid detergent at home.”

Process of making natural environment friendly cleanser to wash clothes:

Make bio enzyme You can follow instructions given in this post https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10153220661372997&id=533017996

or follow this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg5uGfLqSKM

Make reetha liquid – Soak about 25 pieces of reetha in 1 litre of water for 24 hours. Then boil this mix for 30 minutes. Let it cool down. Strain the liquid from the reetha balls. The leftover reetha balls are biodegradable and can be easily composted so put them in your food waste bin.

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Make homemade natural liquid laundry detergent – Mix 1/3 rd portion of bio enzyme and 2/3 rd of the reetha liquid and store in a bottle.

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Storing the reetha and bio-enzyme natural liquid detergent

“This liquid detergent lasts for about 20 days. After I started washing clothes using this natural detergent, I stopped using the rinse cycle in my washing machine. So the water required to wash clothes everyday has reduced by 50%. My son used to have a skin allergy which improved after I switched to using this eco friendly detergent for washing clothes as it forms a protective layer on the clothes. Water collected from the washing machine is first used for mopping my house floors and then put in a bucket in my balcony. I reuse this micro nutrient (reetha and bioenzyme) rich water for watering my plants which is very good for their health,” says Rolly. For any clarifications, you can reach out to jainroly@gmail.com

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Rolly giving 2nd life to the water that was drained from her washing machine by watering her home plants with nutrient rich reetha + bio-enzyme water that has been left over after her home floors have been mopped with this water 

This is how Rolly is able to save 80 litres of fresh water from going down into the drain every single day:

  • From the washing machine everyday, about 25 litres of water is collected in the bucket. 
  • Since Rolly does not rinse the  clothes as she is using a natural detergent, 15 litres of fresh water is saved everyday which would otherwise have been used in the rinsing process.
  • Another 15 litres of fresh water is saved that would be used for mopping the floors if Rolly had not reused the washing machine water for cleaning the floor.
  • Additionally, 25 litres of fresh water is saved that would have been used for watering Rolly’s roof top garden plants if she had not reused the water used for mopping the floor.

“It is a very satisfying feeling to give extra life to every drop of water that we use in our home,” says Rolly proudly.

REUSING TREATED GREY WATER IN HOMES FOR GROUND WATER RECHARGE

Grey water is water from the bathroom and kitchen sinks, bathing area and washing machines. While greywater may look ‘dirty’, it is a safe source of water (after natural purification) to use for cleaning cars and watering your home garden.  

Reusing Grey Water is being Extremely Water Wise

According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), more than 70% of water supplied per household per day in India is consumed in the kitchen, in the bathing area  and for washing clothes. Treating this grey water, reusing the purified grey water for watering your home garden and then channelising it into the ground will result in:

  • Huge saving of water and reduction in your water bill.
  • Keeping the grey water out of the sewer system, thereby not allowing it to pollute the local water bodies.
  • Improving the ground water table in your neighbourhood.

With 70% of India’s water aquifers having dried up and India facing a huge water crisis, every urban and rural family having an independent house can contribute towards improving our nation’s rapidly depleting ground water levels by implementing grey water management in their homes. This video explains how grey water can be treated and purified naturally in a simple and cost effective way and be directed into the ground to recharge the ground water table where you live. 

Steps for Treating Grey Water & Directing it into the Ground 

Re-route grey water from the house to the garden 

The first step is to re-route the pipes from your bathroom (carrying the water from the washbasins and the bathing area), area where the clothes are washed and the kitchen sink in your house to your garden area such that they do not mix with the pipe carrying the sewage water from the toilet flushes. This would require some plumbing work but is easily doable in an individual house either at the stage where the house is being constructed or even later. Mrs Savargaonkar did some plumbing work in her house much after it was built in such a way that the 3 pipes carrying water from her rooftop garden, washing machine area and kitchen sink drain at 3 different places in the garden patch outside her house.

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Make pits to treat and purify grey water in a natural way

Mrs Savargaonkar has got 3 pits dug in her garden for treating the grey water coming out of the 3 pipes. Size of each pit is 1 metre by 1 metre by 1 metre. Each pit has been given a 4 to 6 inch slope at the bottom in the direction of the natural flow of water on the road next to the garden. At the bottom of each pit, gravel has been put for about 6 inches. Above that sand has been put for 12 inches. Whatever place was left at the top, dry leaves were put. Dry leaves act as natural carbon material which is a very important part of the grey water purification process.

“When I started doing the grey water filtering process, I realised that with water going into the pits, the dry leaves would get compacted. I simply put more dry leaves on the top of the pits. In addition to dry leaves, you can also use wood husk, dry tree branches, tree barks, crop husk, plant residues (any of these or in combination) as carbon material in the grey water purification pits,” says Poornima Savargaonkar.

Put naturally water purifying plants around the grey water pits

After 3 months, Mrs Savargaonkar planted naturally water purifying plants such as Kaina, Banana, Syngonium, Umbrella Palm and Spider Lily around the 3 grey water pits in her garden.

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I do not use non-chemical based natural detergents for washing utensils and clothes in my home but use commercially available soaps and detergents. This soapy grey water is filtered through the layers of carbon rich dry leaves, sand and gravel in the pits before it reaches the ground. These water purifying plants do the job of  soaking the leftover chemicals in the grey water. This ensures that the water going down into the ground is pure, chemical free water. Banana plant has been specifically put next to the water outlet pipe from the kitchen which has only the non-soapy water that drains out after washing vegetables, grains and pulses. This nutrient rich water helps in getting good quality bananas for consumption by my family members,” says Mrs Savargaonkar.

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Use natural insecticide to keep mosquitoes & bugs away from the grey water pits

Twice a year and specifically once before or after the monsoon rains, Mrs Savargaonkar puts a handful of Rakh (powder obtained from burning of wood) or Choona (lime used in construction of houses) in the grey water pits as this acts as a very effective natural insecticide to keep mosquitoes and bugs away.

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I personally found no smell or saw any stagnation or any mosquitoes or bugs around Poornima Savargaonkar’s grey water pits and can personally vouch for how happy the plants in her garden looked! If every family who has an independent house in India (in every village, every town and every big city) implements grey water management like Mrs. Savargaonkar, we as citizens can make a huge difference in improving the depleting ground water levels of our country and avoiding day zero scenarios when our taps will run dry.

For any clarifications on grey water treatment talked about above, reach out to poornima.skar@gmail.com

STORING RAIN WATER & RECHARGING GROUND WATER

Every year, India gets monsoon rains but we capture less than 10% of it. This is one of the main reasons why more than 70% of our country’s groundwater aquifers have run dry as we are only extracting water from the ground but not putting anything back. Environment problems are best sorted if they are tackled at source. We need to respect the rain that falls on our roof top and not let it flow into the gutter. 

This film shows how an independent house can save lakhs of litres of water during the rainy season every year by a very simple way of storing the rain water in an underground tank and redirecting the overflow into a groundwater recharge pit. 

Steps for Rain Water Storage and Ground Water Recharge in an Independent House: 

  • Slope of the rooftop in your house should be towards the drain outlet on the roof so the rain water falling on the roof easily flows to this outlet.
  • There should be a steel wire mesh put on this outlet which provides the first level of filtration before this rain water goes into the pipe. 
  • Rooftop surface must be kept relatively clean so the water does not collect too many impurities.
  • A filter should ideally be put to clean this rain water before storing it. You might have to break the wall a little to trace the pipe carrying the roof top rain water down. 
  • Make an underground tank to store the rain water. After the storage tank gets full, the excess rain water can be re-routed to the ground water recharge pit in your house.
  • Recharge pit can be made by using sand, gravel, pebbles as filtration media. 

“We installed the rainy filter in our house and got a 10,000 litre tank constructed to store the rainwater. With the kind of rains we get in Jaipur (in the desert state of Rajasthan), we are able to collect 1,00,000 plus litres of rain water every monsoon which we use for all our household chores during the rainy season (for our drinking water needs after filtering it in the kitchen, cooking, washing, mopping, gardening etc) instead of using municipal piped water or the ground water. This helps to reduce our water footprint in a big way and improve the ground water levels in our neighbourhood,” says Sunil Pachar. Mr Pachar can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in for more details.

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Water filter installed in Mr Pachar’s house to filter the rain water coming down from the roof 
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A 10,000 litre underground storage tank built in Mr Pachar’s home to store filtered rain water

For more information on rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge, please visit the following links:

https://www.indiawaterportal.org/questions/frequently-asked-questions-faqs-rainwater-harvesting-rwh

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/rooftop-rainwater-harvesting-to-empower-individual-home-owners/articleshow/57447707.cms?from=mdr

India is one of the most water stressed countries in the world. This water crisis is impacting more than 60 crore people across the country. In this scenario, disrespecting water by not using rain water which is a free gift from nature that we get year after year and allowing it to flow into the drain is criminal. Doing both rain water harvesting (collecting and storing rainwater) and groundwater recharge in every house in India will ensure that our country’s ground water levels go up and we do not see day zero conditions when our taps will run dry.

FEEDBACK

For any comments, feedback or clarifications on this blog, please write to the author Neelam Ahluwalia at this email id: healingourcities1@gmail.com

OTHER WATER BLOGS & FILMS ON THIS WEBSITE

https://healingourcities.org/2020/02/23/water-rich-communities/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/14/impact-of-ro-water-filters-on-human-health-and-indias-water-crisis/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/recycling-grey-water-in-homes-natures-way/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/27/water-aerators-reduce-water-use-substantially/

https://healingourcities.org/2020/04/28/rain-water-harvesting-and-recharge-at-home-level/

https://healingourcities.org/water-management/