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‘Rainwater harvesting is need of the hour’

... say water warriors from Chennai ahead of World Water Day on March 22. According to them, it is the only successful solution to the city’s never-ending water crisis

‘Rainwater harvesting is need of the hour’
Abilash Haridass; Sekhar Raghavan,Rain Man of Chennai


Over the years, Chennai has been reeling under water crisis and the city almost ran out of water last year. We constantly hear about issues like water pollution, prolonged droughts, dipping water tables, lack of access to proper drinking water, etc. But despite water struggle, people aren’t bothered about saving water for the future. Ahead of World Water Day on March 22, water warriors from Chennai talk about the need to save water and share solutions to the city’s water crisis.

Sekhar Raghavan, who was instrumental in setting up the country’s first Rain Centre in Chennai, opines that rainwater harvesting (RWH) is the only keyword to any sustainable water management. “But people are neglecting the procedure. In Chennai, it rains only for a few days. Unless you catch that, we will run out of water. That is precisely what happened last year. We took rainwater harvesting casually and we suffered. RWH is the only option and it should be carried out by individuals (at respective houses) and by the state as well. The state should do it in public spaces both in rural and urban areas. We should also find ways to reuse greywater. Like how we take care of our children, we need to save water,” says Sekhar, who is known as the Rain Man of Chennai.

The theme for this year’s World Water Day is about water and climate change. “Climate change is complicating things and we should be prepared. Earlier, we had two monsoons and used to get rain only during that period. But now, rains are quite erratic. For eg, New Delhi received rains a couple of weeks ago which is unheard of. Also, London was flooded last month. Both intensity and rainfall patterns are changing. So, we need to be prepared throughout the year,” he adds.

VP Amarnath, a social activist from Valsaravakkam, has been actively creating awareness on RWH. His team had planned some interesting activities for World Water Day but had to cancel due to new regulations. “In Chennai, we don’t have many RWH structures in buildings and water gets wasted hugely. Through RWH, we can not only use water directly but also the stored water can be utilised to revitalise the ground level water and improve its quality. This also helps to raise the level of groundwater,” says Amarnath.

Only a few companies are encouraging a shift in people’s attitudes when it comes to conserving water as a resource. One such water management start-up is WEGoT that is aiming to put India at the forefront of water conservation and sustainable development.

“WEGoT’s sensor-based Internet of Things (IoT) device and software platform Aqua helps to reduce the demand for water by more than 50 per cent by tracking real-time flow. Sensors installed in individual apartments track water usage to give daily reports. These granular data collected from various installations are analysed and the insights are shared with the end-users on a mobile app. The software further tracks usage patterns, which helps the building owners know the water required to be stored in tanks. This also detects leakages, abnormal water usage and inefficient water infrastructure, and informs users and facility managers in real-time. The app even notifies people of leakages and enables them to remotely shut off the power supply. Monthly water bills to the association can be paid from the mobile app and it also provides trends and history of consumption. As part of the process, people become more accountable and decrease their consumption by making real-timedecisions,” says Abilash Haridass, co-founder of WEGoT Technologies.

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