A wetland and a golden opportunity
The sprawling 50-hectare Jakkur wetland is offering a unique opportunity for the city of Bangalore to demonstrate a small-scale integrated urban water management idea which can be replicated across much of the city. For a city suffering from water shortage, the need for recycling waste water, using rainwater, preserving tanks, and managing surface water and groundwater sustainably is crucial to ensuring water availability. Added to this is the need for meeting the ecological requirements of water for birds, plants, and biodiversity plus preserving the cultural heritage of water represented through old wells.
Tank area fenced
The Bangalore Development Authority has taken up the restoration of Jakkur tank at a cost of nearly Rs.22 crore as a board on the site informs us. The entire tank area has been fenced, an earthen bund created all around and an island developed in the centre for birds to nest. Upstream of the tank, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has built a sewage treatment plant with capacity to treat 10 million litres per day of waste water entering the tank.
Downstream of the tank of what once was the command area, housing layouts will spring up sooner or later.
Magnificent old stone-lined open wells dot the area.
These represent a water heritage of the city as much as the tanks do. Some are in use but most are abandoned.
These wells have water, thanks to tank rejuvenation. If the treated wastewater from the sewage treatment plant and the rainwater from the catchment could well fill the wetland of Jakkur, these beautiful old open wells will continue to have water.
These wells, if preserved, can represent an excellent source of water to the downstream area of the tank. A detailed hydro-geological survey will reveal the potential of the groundwater available.
Nearly 20,000 households can be provided water after treatment, considering a steady 10 million litres per day availability and a demand of about 500 litres per day per house.
This may also be the cheapest water available since the groundwater is available at very low depths.
By integrating rainwater harvesting systems in the houses and apartments to come up, it should be possible to meet the water requirements of about one lakh people.
The sewage treatment plant may need to be upgraded to tertiary levels and the treatment capacity of the wetland and the aquifer will also need to be established, which represents a unique opportunity for the city to learn and manage ecological water treatment, recharge and reuse.
The Jakkur wetland can also be a great biodiversity spot as it attracts a large numbers of birds; only it will need to be ensured that they are not disturbed by the visitor inflow into the area.
The challenge is one of developing an integrated plant which respects all needs, bringing institutional coordination and ensuring that the plan is implemented well. After all the nice work done so far it is only a small further step which can bring large benefits and supplement Bangalore's water and ecological requirement sustainably.
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