Water Management


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.


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.


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. 


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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%.


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.


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 


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: 


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:


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Water filter installed in Mr Pachar’s house to filter the rain water coming down from the roof 
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:



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.


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










Water Management


India is one of the most water stressed countries in the world. Niti Aayog (a prominent Government of India think tank) report of 2018 states that 21 major cities in India (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing towards reaching zero groundwater levels affecting access of water for more than 100 million urban Indians. The report also states that by 2030, India’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for millions of people. If we want to prevent the water crisis that Cape Town in South Africa witnessed, a decentralised collective approach to water management is the key.

Watch this film to see 15+ practical solutions that different residential communities in Gurgaon city in the water starved National Capital Region have implemented to conserve water. These water saving measures can be adopted by any residential condominium, township, office complex or institution anywhere in India.


How to be Water Rich:

Respecting water by following the 4 Rs of water conservation is the only way forward if we do not want to experience day zero conditions when our taps will run dry. This blog details some water smart solutions that residential communities / office complexes / institutions can adopt under each of the below heads:

  • Reduce Consumption
  • Reduce Wastage
  • Case Study showing how a community reduced its water use by 20%
  • Recycle Grey Water & Sewage Water
  • Recharge Ground Water (a short video where a water expert talks about how to design community level ground water recharge structures efficiently and a detailed write up on implementation of  Swales, a permaculture based ground water recharge technique)


Water Meters – “What cannot be measured, cannot be improved.” It is critical to install water meters to determine the amount of water being used on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.

Waterless Urinals – As shown in the Water Rich Communities film, Richmond Park residential complex in Gurgaon has been using waterless urinals in their high usage public areas – club house and common area toilets for the past few years.

Waterless urinals cost approximately INR 5500 per urinal to retrofit but save huge quantities of water from being flushed down the drain.

See these links below and explore using waterless urinals for the men’s common area toilets in your residential community and office complex.



Sprinklers and Shower Handles – Horticulture uses a lot of water. Using sprinklers and shower handles attached to pipes to water green spaces reduces water use by 50%.

Sprinklers which rotate 360 degrees are effective for watering big lawns. The amount of distance and pressure can be adjusted in these sprinklers.
Pop up sprinklers are effective for watering smaller green spaces.


Mulching – Putting dry leaves in plant beds and around trees significantly reduces amount of water used for horticulture as dry leaves act as a natural barrier preventing the soil from losing moisture as a result of exposure to the wind and the sun.


Planting Native Species –  Planting has to be thought through very well keeping in mind the ecology of the region. In a semi arid or arid landscape, if you plant species which are water thirsty i.e those belonging to a moisture rich climate ecology, then these plants will require more water which is criminal in these water stressed times. For example, in Gurgaon city, it is not water wise to plant Bengali Kadam which is a tree species from the moisture rich Bengal area and thus will require more water. This short film presents the views of Vijay Dhasmana, an ecologist and rewilder who talks about why planting native species of the right ecology is critical from the water availability point of view and how native plantation helps to create more biodiversity rich habitats in urban areas.


Water Audit – This is an essential tool which helps to determine where all the water is being used in the complex, points of water wastage etc. Conducting periodic water audits and addressing the following questions helps in reducing wastage of water:

  • What is the kind of water wastage happening in our residential / office complex?
  • Are there any leaking taps, pipes and toilet cisterns?
  • Do our water tanks overflow at any time?
  • What mechanisms can we put in place to prevent different kinds of water wastage?

Installing Water Aerators in all the Taps – This simple solution helps to reduce water use by more than 60% per tap. 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. Mr. Pachar can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in

20-25% of fresh water can be saved in homes / offices just by using aerators as per the below recommended specifications:

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.

Dish washing: Foam type aerator with flow rate of 5-10 litres per minute.

Wash basins: Spray type aerator with flow rate of 1-4 litres per minute.

Foam type of aerators having a 5-6 litres per minute of water dispensing rate are ideal for kitchen sinks as washing utensils requires more water compared to washing hands.
Spray type of aerators should be installed in all bathroom sinks, as water coming out at the rate of 1 to 2 litres per minute is sufficient to wash hands.

Fixing Sensors in Overhead Water Tanks – Veena Padmanabhan, RWA member, Richmond Park complex in Gurgaon shares, “Earlier, there used to be a lot of water wastage in our condominium from overflowing water tanks on the roof tops. Now, after we have installed sensors, when the water tanks are getting full, the indication comes on a panel kept in our maintenance room. Even if the plumbers are busy, any staff member goes and shuts the valve which avoids any water from overflowing in the overhead tanks.”


Reducing Number of Common Area Taps and Switching to Push Taps –Regulating water use is the key to reducing wastage of water. We figured that there were a lot of non-monitored taps in our condominium which could be opened by anyone (RWA staff members, drivers, part time helpers) at any point of time. We realised that quite often a lot of water would overflow because of some tap being left open by someone, somewhere by mistake. To address this problem of water wastage, we closed 3-4 of the common area taps. In the 2 existing common area taps, we have changed the system to ‘push taps’ to avoid water overflowing from buckets while people get busy chatting with each other,” shares Veena Padmanabhan, RWA member, Richmond Park complex in Gurgaon.

Push taps help in reducing water wastage by water overflowing from buckets.

Prompt Fixing of Leaks – Leaking pipes, taps, toilet flushes are a big source of water wastage. System should be put into place to fix these immediately.

Mandating Designated Time for Car Cleaning – Instead of drivers and car cleaners having access to water taps all day long to clean cars, fixing car cleaning time for 2-3 hours in the morning helps to regulate water use.

Re-routing Water Dripping from Air Conditioners – Water dripping from the air conditioners in buildings is a big source of water wastage. This water can be easily rerouted to the water recharge pits using pipes.


Case Study: Water Management at Ireo Grand Arch Condo, Gurgaon

Water Use Reduced by 20% by following 2 Rs of Water Conservation

Raman Chawla, RWA President, Ireo Grand Arch, Gurgaon shares, “The builder handed over our residential complex to us without there being any piped water supply from HUDA – Haryana Urban Development Authority. The Grand Arch, located off Golf Course Extension Road in Gurgaon houses around 700 families and we have been dependent on getting water from tankers every day. HUDA water lines were connected to our condominium in June 2019 but they just meet about 10-40 percent of our total water needs as supply is very erratic. As a result, our dependence on water tankers remains high. 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.”

A Water Conservation Committee comprising of residents and RWA members was set up to study all possible aspects to reduce the huge water expenses being incurred by the residents. A detailed audit was carried out by the RWA and it was decided to monitor consumption patterns and plug-in wastages. Grand Arch has been helped by a Sustainability Consultant – Sunil Pachar, who helps RWAs, Corporates and Institutions to carry out water audits, suggests measures for water conservation and helps with the implementation of the same. Mr. Pachar can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in

Following water conservation measures based on reducing water wastage and consumption were implemented by Grand Arch RWA:

  1. Water aerators have been installed in all the sinks in the bathrooms and kitchens in all the flats using RWA funds. According to Sunil Pachar, Sustainability Consultant who supplied the water aerators to Grand Arch, “Every RWA should adopt this extremely effective water saving approach. This simple step of installing water aerators has helped to bring down overall water use per household by 20-25% in Grand Arch. Buying in bulk reduces the price of the aerators significantly. The RWA ended up paying INR 80-85 per water aerator for a leading German brand called NeoPerl. 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,”
  2. The water audit pointed out that leakages in the basement were major contributors to water being wasted in the complex. Steps were taken to plug in all the leakage points.
  3. All the gardeners in the complex have been trained to (a) use showers/sprinklers while watering the green spaces (b) stagger watering timing in summer to early morning/late evening to avoid wastage through evaporation.
  4. All defective garden sprinklers have been repaired or replaced.
  5. Members of the Water Conservation Committee have been sensitising the residents by sending e-mails/whatsapp messages, putting up posters on notice boards in different towers and the club house and by involving children who have been doing ‘Nukkad Nataks’ during cultural events and painting competitions on the critical importance of reducing wastage and consumption of water.
  6. House-maids have been trained to save water since they participate in all the cleaning chores like washing utensils, clothes, mopping floors etc.
  7. Measures were also taken to rectify the sewage treatment plant (STP) which was not working at the desired level of performance.

According to Raman Chawla, RWA President, Ireo Grand Arch, Gurgaon, “All these measures have translated to a tangible 20% i.e. 30 lakh litres of water saving within our condominium. There is however a definite scope of further improvement. Our RWA is currently in the process of exploring all available options to reduce water usage by installing smart metering systems which will help our residents to monitor and reduce water consumption at their home level. Another critical thing that we need to look into is ground water recharge.”


Can this water be given one more life? Can it be used one more time before it is finally drained out? These are powerful questions that help to flip our approach to the way we look at water management. All you need is some investment in piping or plumbing to reroute the water to reuse the same.

Reusing Swimming Pool Water for Horticulture –  “We do not let any drop of water go waste in our complex. Even the swimming pool water is re-routed every year at the end of the season to the community garden using a pump. This water is used by the gardeners for watering the green spaces instead of just being drained. Our plants have survived the chlorinated water without any problem!”, shares Veena Padmanabhan, RWA member, Richmond Park complex in Gurgaon.

Using Recycled Grey Water and Treated Sewage Water for Horticulture are 2 extremely water smart solutions as the water saving on an everyday basis is huge as your community or office complex or institution is not using thousands of litres of fresh water for this purpose. As water availability in Indian cities goes down over the next few years, using treated grey water (waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines) and black water (sewage water from toilet flushes) is the only way, residential and office complexes would be able to maintain their green spaces. According to Sunil Pachar, Sustainability Consultant, “Water recycling is very cost effective as the cost of water recycling works out to around 4-5 paisa per litre as compared to the huge cost of withdrawing water from the ground which is depleting at alarming levels in most Indian cities.”

Grey water recycling is really easy to implement as it just requires a tank to be built below the building to collect the water coming from the bathroom wash basins, shower areas and washing machines. This tank needs to be cleaned once in 15 days. A simple pre chamber can be built using small pebbles, carbon blocks and alum which helps in avoiding any smell issues.

Silver Oaks complex in water starved Gurgaon recycles 50,000 litres of grey water every day & so doesn’t use any fresh water to maintain its green areas spread over 14 acres.

Surbhi Iyer, Eco Team Member from Silver Oaks shares, “Total cost of setting up 9 grey water recycling tanks with a capacity of 5000 litres per tank came to approximately INR 3,60,000 (INR 40,000 per tank x 9 tanks). We built 9 tanks over a period of 5 years so it was not a drain on the RWAs financial resources.”

Researchers from Bangalore have shown that recycling and reusing grey water for gardening, flushing, cleaning cars etc in a residential complex reduces almost 70% of the total fresh water requirement. The study was carried out at ‘T-Zed Homes’ residential complex which saved almost Rs 10 lakh per annum in fresh water bills and reduced its groundwater withdrawal.

Grey water recycling is an eco-friendly, economical and effective way of providing water security to every residential and office complex in India. Countries such as Japan are using grey water recycling extensively to overcome their water deficit.  Using small treatment plants and closed-loop water supply system at the building level, Japan reuses more than 53 million litres of water every single day.

Garden Estate, Gurgaon set up a 75,000 litres per day sewage treatment plant (STP) in 2010 at a cost of INR 20 lakhs. This treated sewage water is used to water 23 acres of green area.

While using STP water, an important precaution that needs to be taken is to use the treated water within 24 hours. If it is stored for longer, issues of smell can come in. In such a situation, it is best to re-filter the water before using it for horticulture,” shares Keshav Jaini, Eco Team Member from Garden Estate.


 ‘Will our children and future generations get water to drink’ is the thought that should motivate every community, office complex and institution to invest in constructing rain water recharge structures. Currently in India, we barely recharge 10% of the rain water. In urban areas, rain water recharge is negligible. With so much concretisation in our cities, there is hardly any place for the rain water to sink in and it leads to water logging in all our streets across urban India every monsoon. This needs to change. Ground water recharge needs to be taken up on war footing in all our towns and cities if we do not want to face ground zero situation when our taps will run dry.

Ground Water Recharge StructuresFrom a community / office / institution perspective, what are the things to keep in mind while designing an efficient rain water recharge structure that will allow maximum percolation of rain water into the ground? This video presents the views of Sunil Pachar, a Sustainability Expert working in the area of providing water management solutions to RWAs, corporates and institutions. Mr. Pachar can be reached at sunil.pachar@ecolive.in

Swales as shown in the Water Rich Communities film are trenches dug on gently sloping land / natural drains / storm water drains (nallahs) to capture rain water so that it is absorbed in the ground rather than let it flow out of the area which would then be lost in drainage.

Swales are typically 2 feet wide X 2 feet deep in a continuous S shape which helps to slow, spread and sink the water in the soil.

The permaculture principles at work in swales are called the 3S: Slow it, Spread it and Sink it. The swale is blocked at every 10 feet or so using wooden logs or sand filled bags to further slow and collect the rain water thereby allowing only the overflow to go to the next trench. Soil holding, filtration plants can be planted in the swale to help more water to sink in. Organic brown material in the form of dry leaves and wooden branches from the horticulture waste can be added to make the soil more porous. The worms and microbes start acting on this carbon material. As it decomposes and becomes mulch in the ground, it helps to open the soil below, thereby making it easier for the water to seep into the ground.

Adding carbon material in the swale helps to increase the porosity of the soil thereby sinking more water into the ground.

Typically, the site where you want to dig the swale has to be assessed and studied for soil, slope, erosion, porosity and the flow, volume and speed of water. It is important to study the water coming in. If the water is too polluted, a natural filtration process using plants or filtration media (stones, pebbles) should be created. Please note that soil is a natural filter and will clean the water as it gets absorbed.

Keshav Jaini, Eco Team Member, Garden Estate, Gurgaon shares, “In our residential complex, we already had several rain water recharge structures made in 2002. We implemented the swales project to capture the rain water flowing out of our estate in the storm water drain. We have created individual trenches of 2ft X 2ft over a length of 150 feet. The total holding capacity of the entire swale is 600 cubic feet which can hold about 17000 litres of water. Initially, when it starts raining, the soil is dry and so the rain water seeps in very quickly. Once the soil absorbs the initial rush of water, the absorption rate becomes slower. In one normal 30 minutes rain, we collect and sink about 25000 litres of water in the complete swale. Time taken for the water to sink in ranges from 1 hour to 3 hours. If it rains again after 3 or 4 hours, the swale is again ready to absorb another 25000 litres. We calculated that in the month of August 2019, when we had 12 rounds of monsoon rains, our swale helped us recharge about 300,000 litres of water (25000 litres x 12 rains) into the ground. This is a very economical, ground water recharge solution. All we spent was INR 5000 as labour cost for digging the swale. The whole project is completely natural helping to regenerate mother earth in multiple ways.”

For queries and guidance on implementation of swales technique as a ground water recharge solution, please contact: Mr. Keshav Jaini, Garden Estate, Gurgaon at this email: keshavcj@gmail.com


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