Catch Every Drop: Save, harvest, recycle, and refresh water in Bangalore

22 Feb 2013
0 mins read

22 lakh people in Bangalore are currently suffering from water scarcity. If we collected all of the water that is being wasted down stormwater drains, and if we treated our sewage water, we could serve the water needs of 53% of Bangalore's population. Catch Every Drop is aimed at conserving and harvesting water in Bangalore because now is the right time to talk about saving every drop while we can.

How can you get involved?

The worth of water: Send your best photos describing the worth of water to Winners get a chance to showcase their work in a photo exhibition on 23 March and to be a part of the photo camp at the Koovagam festival (20-21 April), organized by Korkai. See all the entries on The Alternative's Facebook page.

The Water Warrior Contest: Tell us what method, practice, or tip you are using to save water in your residence, school, or workplace - you'll help others save water as well. Others have submitted, for example, sink showerhead attachments, how lotus seeds can save lakesstoring vegetable wash water in a bucket, and rainwater harvesting as seen by a five-year-old.

Not yet a Water Warrior? Want to learn more about how you can save water in your apartment, house, college, corporate office, or factory? Read the articles from our campaign, browse through the linked resources, and get in touch with us if you have questions or comments. Write on our Facebook wall, catch us on Twitter (using the hashtag #catcheverydrop), or post a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

WWD poster

How did we do it?

A visit to Embassy Tranquil: Ashish Patel has championed rainwater harvesting in his Koramangala apartment complex.

Recharging bore-wells: When bore-wells across Hubli ran dry, farmers looked to the skies and then to Sikandar Meeranayak. Meet North Karnataka’s water man, who has brought water to bore-wells running dry for the last eighteen years.

Kennametal: The Tumkur Road facility of Kennametal is a model sustainable campus – it is self-sufficient with water, has reduced energy bills by 60%, and is close to zero-waste.

Lake Warriors: While the City of Thousand Lakes is destroyed in the name of development and just 180 lakes remain, Lakshmi Rebecca of Chai with Lakshmi interviews citizens such as Usha Rajagopalan and Arbind Gupta who have taken it upon themselves to start a revolution.

KaikondrahalliVibhutipura, Arekere, Sarakki, Lalbagh, Somasundarapalya, and Puttenahalli lakes: Learn about Bangalore's success stories in saving the city's dying lakes - but there are still battles to be won.

Water and the corporate: Lakshmi Rebecca of Chai with Lakshmi interviews Madhu Menon, CFO of Tesco HSC in Whitefield, and Shubha Ramachandran of Biome to understand aquifers, the capacity of various water sources, the impact of high consumption, and engaging at a community level within and outside the campus.

Shriram Sanskruti, Sobha Quartz, Ferns Paradise, Embassy Tranquil, Prestige Aster, Brigade Millenium, SJR Redwoods, and Rainbow Drive: Explore how gated communities are installing rainwater harvesting systems, recharging groundwater, charging for water based on usage, and revamping their sewage treatment plants, as well as what the next steps are. Also read about Life is Beautiful, a society in which rainwater harvesting was not so successful.

Water ranger: V. Balasubramanian tells us how he saves on water and electricity in his Coimbature home.

Simple ways to reduce your water and electricity usage: G. V. Dasarathi, a mechanical engineer passionate about sustainable transportation and solid waste management, describes the rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, and solar power systems he has built into his home.

How can you do it?

Dial M for Muniyappa: Call +91 94485 70684 to reach Muniyappa and his team, Bangalore’s star well diggers, who have dug over 1500 wells to bring water to this city and beyond!

How to save a lake: Balasubramanian Thirunavukkarasu lists ten steps that can help save each of Bangalore's dying water bodies.

Be water wise in your home and in your life: The Alternative gives us simple tips to save water.

Living without detergent: Maybe that ek chammach of detergent for safedi laundry isn’t so harmless after all.

Sewage treatment begins at home: Learn about a simple sewage treatment plant (STP) that can be installed at your house and about segregating greywater and black water.

A shopping list for a water-saving home: Don't know where to start? Check out some of these gadgets that can help you save water with minimal effort.

How to be a water smart traveler: Holiday is a time for excesses, but water use need not be one of them. Lower your water footprint, and be a responsible traveler.

Conserving water in the kitchen: Here are seven simple rules that can help you do more with less water in your own kitchen.

Rainwater harvesting in a nutshell: Read about simple ways to collect rain, whether it's through a rain barrel, harvesting system, or recharge well.

Rain barrels and recharge wells: Learn how to make a simple rain barrel with this easy DIY project and discover how to put water back into the ground.

How can society do it?

Open wells and the Jakkur well story: That neglected well in our neighbourhood is not just a hole in the ground. For years, wells have been a symbol of our social and cultural history.

Looking to the skies: Traditionally, Bengaluru would catch much of its rain in a series of lakes, but we have not taken care of them. What do we do now?

The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance: The Blue Schools project works across India on rainwater harvesting, toilet renovation, and sanitation improvement to maximize the use of rainwater.

Lakes and groundwater: If only we had understood traditional architecture and water harvesting systems, we might not have experienced the big water shortage we currently face.

Centering groundwater: The survival of a river or a lake cannot be the peripheral activity of many institutions; it has to be the core activity of one institution.

Indigenous water stories, including the eris of Tamil Nadu: How have we traditionally stored and used water, and how have these methods changed or been lost with modernization?

A city-wide rainwater harvesting movement: Sekhar Raghavan of the Chennai Rain Centre tells us how his city raised its water table by 20 feet after one monsoon, as well as the pitfalls of such a quick implementation.

Sewage and urban planning: Vice President Hamid Ansari speaks about the need to manage wastewater at the 2nd Anil Agarwal Dialogue Seminar, "Excreta Does Matter," by the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi on March 4-5.

Tanks can save the cityBangalore's own Zen RainmanS. Vishwanath, writes about how tanks can be used to receive treated wastewater, recharging groundwater and saving us from water shortages.

The true cost of water: Avinash Krishnamurthy of Biome tells us how we can move past simple water subsidies and understand the ecological, technical, and social costs of water use through water tariffs.

Using water wisely and equitably: S. Vishwanath envisions nine water measures we will all adopt in 2013, including active engagement, universal coverage, cleaning stormwater drains, special attention to schools and hospitals, and planting trees instead of water-guzzling grass.

Want to learn more?

Everyday green wisdom: Growing its own organic vegetables and fruits with recycled wastewater is just one of the efforts made by Prakriya Green Wisdom School to become a sustainable campus.

Sewage and the city: The only way solve the looming water crisis is to start thinking about how to stop sewage from contaminating fresh water, and how best to reuse and recycle it close to the homes and apartments where it is produced.

Birding in Bangalore: Here are ten common species of birds that can be found in Bangalore's lakes.

The story of Bangalore's water: This infographic shows us how water travels across our city.

How to kill a river: Mahesh Bhat tells us how we managed to choke Arkavathy River, which once supplied water to Bangalore.

Temple tanks: Meera Iyer of INTACH Bangalore writes about how temple tanks maintained ground water levels, in addition to playing a role in religious rituals.

Selfish or selfless? Shubha Ramachandran of Biome explores the balance between storing harvested rainwater and using it to recharge groundwater.

Water in movies: Priya Desai explores the role of water in mainstream media and popular culture.

Colours of Ulsoor Lake: Raw, untreated sewage flows into one of Bangalore's main water bodies.

What's your water footprint? Urban India’s daily per capita water consumption is around 135 litres. How much water do you spend on your daily activities?

Water wisdom, from nature: S. Vishwanath shows us how to re-learn to look to the sky for a bounty of water and to the soil for its storage.

Aabid Surti, Mumbai's water saver: 77-year old Aabid Surti, author, artist, cartoonist and playwright, spends his Sundays searching Mumbai for leaky taps to fix - for free.

How did our sacred water get so dirty? Leo Saldanha of the Environmental Support Group gives us the history of Bangalore's polluted water.

Water privatization: How do we balance viewing access to water as a fundamental human right and as an economic good?

Rejuvenating Bangalore's lakes: A biotechnology company has developed a product that promotes the growth of beneficial algae and re-oxygenates polluted lakes.

What is an aquifer? Learn more about nature's underground reservoirs.

Wat'er we doing? The Children's Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) conducted a two-day workshop with Biome to get children excited about water, covering topics like the importance of water, simple rainwater harvesting solutions, recyling greywater, and conserving lakes. Click through to watch a video.

Facing Bangalore's water crisis: Ayyappa M. Masagi of the Water Literacy Foundation gives us an overview of how our current behaviors around water are wasteful and unsustainable.

A few facts about water scarcity: S. S. Ranganathan, water expert, tells us the details about water scarcity in Bangalore, India, and the world.

Catch every drop while you can! Read an introduction to the campaign to learn why water conservation in Bangalore is becoming increasingly crucial.


Self reliance in water, by Indukanth Ragade, is a one-stop compendium for every aspect of water and its management. It is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in urban water issues.

Overwhelmed? Biome has put together checklists of best practices on water to start with; one is for household-level water management in a layout (but is relevant to any household), and one is for the whole layout itself.

Catch Water Where It Falls: The Centre for Science and Environment is selling a toolkit on urban rainwater harvesting.

The BWSSB Rainwater Harvesting Park in Jayanagar 5th Block, Bangalore, has produced illustrated DIY manuals on topics like rain barrels (PDF) and recharge wells (PDF).

The Rainwater Club has supplied us a technical manual for rainwater harvesting which covers topics like rain barrels, directing rainwater into a sump, recharge pits, and filtration.

We have put together FAQs for reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration units, wastewater treatment and sewage treatment plants (STPs), groundwater, and bore-wells.

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has a guide to designing, operating, and maintaining STPs. This is a very clear, well-written document that should be at the top of every homeowner and apartment manager's reading list.

Citizen Matters has a comprehensive four-part series on rainwater harvesting in a layout, gated community, or apartment complex:

Bangalore's own Zen Rainman, S. Vishwanath, has a series of video tutorials on rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, and general water management. We have covered some of his most-watched posts previously.

Catch Every Drop is being run by The Alternative in partnership with India Water Portal and with sponsorship from Arghyam.

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