Dreams Of The Water Turtle And The Indian Moorhen

As part of its year-end special, Eartha asked sustainability professionals working across the green economy to share their hopes and dreams for a better world and the changes they would like to see in 2017.

In the second of a three-part series, S. Vishwanath, director of Biome Solutions, co-founder of the Rainwater Club, tireless water activist and urban planner, and better known to most as zenrainman shares his water vision for the new year.

It’s the time of the year when we close a calendar and open another. New Year wish lists are always fun and here is one on water for 2017.

Let us together create a water literate society. Where we understand where the water we consume comes from and what happens to it after we use it. Where we take action to protect, preserve and rejuvenate. Lakes, wells, spring, streams and rivers need our help in being clean, in their ability to harbour life, to flow and to provide.

My plan for this year works at three levels:

At the individual level, I will try my best to conserve water and use it as less as is possible. Every time I pick up a glass of water I will thank the miracle liquid and marvel at its life giving ability.

I will connect with the rain at my place and promise to get drenched in the first rain of the season.

I will set up a small rain gauge on the terrace of my house and make sure I measure the rainfall daily whenever it rains and marvel at the Indian ocean landing at my doorstep. I will harvest rainwater and make sure that it is collected and reused or recharged into the ground.

I will make sure that all the water that I use is treated and reused. The waste that I generate, I will make sure to compost the bio-degradables and ensure that the recyclables are recycled. The toxic waste such as batteries and electronic equipment are sent to the right place for safe containment. These waste can harm and pollute water no end.

I will make sure to bring in millets into my diet and minimise water intensive crops. Local fruits, local crops and if possible home grown vegetables will become part of the food I consume.

I will visit at least one source of a river this year and clean up the place leaving it better than it was. I am lucky because close to my city is the Nandi Hills range, the birthplace of six rivers. Rivers are the lifeblood of civilization and my duty this year will be to learn more about them and the creatures that inhabit them.

The river otter and the ‘mahseer’ are but two species I am fond of and I will make sure I will try and spot them this year.

I will make sure that I will plant at least ten trees and take care of them so that they grow to be tall and full of fruits.

In summer times a fresh bowl of water kept outside will provide for birds. A bowl of sand kept wet will provide for bees and other insects.

                                                                 Image by author

                                                                 Image by author

At the community level people are gathering in their localities, in their villages and towns and cities and lakes and river banks to engage in preserving and protecting these water bodies. I will join these community groups or create one if none exists and makes sure that some of my Sundays and just a few hours at that, are given to community action to understand and protect our water bodies.

In the village of Doddiganhalli in Kolar District in Karnataka, villagers came together to clean up two old village wells. After removing 24 feet of silt and making sure that a percolation pond was built nearby they waited for the rains. Surely enough when the rains came the wells filled up and the village has enough drinking water for the next three years.

In the city of Salem activists and volunteers have come together to clean up the lakes in the town and the situation has dramatically improved.

Farmers in drought prone Bundelkhand have built farm ponds which thanks to the water harvesting done have drought proofed the villages.

As the famous saying goes – We are the ones we have been waiting for.

At the government level, I will make sure to find out the officers in charge of water supply. If I spot a leak I will report to the officer and ensure that the leak is stopped.

I will find out the authority responsible for lakes and engage with them pro-actively to ensure that the lake is kept clean. If I see overflowing manholes or sewage pipes leaking or garbage being dumped I will make sure to complain to the right authority.

What are your water resolutions for the new year?

Vishwanath Srikantaiah is a well-known water activist, educator and founder of the Rainwater Club that works on water conservation and sustainable sanitation. He posts as @zenrainman on Instagram and Twitter, and can be followed on Facebook.