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A wetland and a golden opportunity

S. VISHWANATH

Old stone-lined open wells dot the Jakkur wetland area, and BDA's restoration work at Jakkur tank could help revive these water bodies, says our water expert S. Vishwanath

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 could be replicated across much of the city. For a city suffering from water shortages the need for recycling waste-water, using rainwater, preserving tanks and managing the surface water and groundwater interface sustainably is crucial to ensuring water availability. Added to this is the need for meeting the ecological requirements of water for birds, plants and bio-diversity 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 10 million litres per day capacity sewage treatment plant to treat all waste water entering the tank. Downstream of the tank of what once was the command area, layouts and housing 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 the 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.

Excellent water source

These wells, if preserved by the BDA, 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.

About 20,000 households can be provided water after due treatment, considering a steady 10 million litres per day availability and a demand of about 500 litres per day per house.

This could also be the cheapest water available since the groundwater is available at very low depths and therefore pumping energy requirement would be very less.

By integrating rainwater harvesting systems in the houses and apartments likely 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 would 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 bio-diversity spot as it attracts 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. Primarily it is a challenge for the BDA and the BWSSB.

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 harmoniously and sustainably. Opportunity knocks.

www.rainwaterclub.org
zenrainman@gmail.com

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