Bengaluru – founded by Kempegowda, the crown jewel of the state of Karnataka, was gifted with beautiful lakes and gardens.
It is known for its weather. But years of urbanization, poor water management, pollution, and an accelerated population, the army town has become a city of traffic and concrete, with falling groundwater levels, and dry taps.
The poisoning of his beloved city and home pushed a Bangalorean, Uma Maheshwara to take a step towards a solution—rainwater harvesting.
A plumbing contractor working with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Uma has spent the last 13 years installing over a thousand Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) systems across the city, to save its future.
“I was born and brought up in Bengaluru and have seen the city change and transform with time. But infrastructural development has come with its own share of disadvantages and sacrifices. One such sacrifice has been that of the cities natural resources, especially water. With each year the condition is only depleting and owing to this trend many studies have also compared our cities future to be similar to that of Cape Town, South Africa. And, I could not have stood back and let the impending crisis unfold, not when I could be part of the solution,” says Uma.
Uma enrolled in a certificate course on RWH at Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru in 2007. He realized in a city with a population explosion and depleting sources of water, most people brought water tankers to meet their daily needs–a practice that was uneconomical and harmful.
“Rainwater Harvesting is a sustainable source of pure water, and the best solution for this problem,” he explains.
Aiming to solve one building at a time, Uma, shortly began work in the installation of RWH systems in various commercial and residential buildings and providing free consultancy services for RWH.
Leading by example he built an RWH system in 2007, with a one-time investment of Rs 10,000 at his house in Banaswadi.
That summer, he had enough water to not just fulfil their daily needs but also recharge the groundwater, thus setting a great precedent and positive impact both personally and environmentally. He earned back his initial investment of Rs 10,000 for installment, with the savings of the next 2 years.
Worked with several housing societies and commercial buildings in Bengaluru, Uma feels that there is still a lot to be done for people to realize the need for RWH.
Senthil Kumar, a resident of Golden Louts from Varthur approached Uma for the installation of RWH in his society says, “We have 108 flats in our society and would require to order at least 70 tankers every month. But, after the installation last year, it has considerably come down to 30-50 tankers a month depending on the rainfall. We have also saved Rs 1.3 lakh in a year and hope to recover back the entire investment cost of Rs 2.8 lakh by the end of this year.”
In conclusion, Uma says, “In my experience, there is still a lot of hesitation floating around especially among owners of independent houses. Gated societies and housing complexes on the other hand have been more receptive to this idea. If you are short-sighted and not see the long-term benefits of RWH, you will end up in the middle of a water crisis.”