Water Scarcity & Solutions for Apartments Complex

Lots of news of the scarcity of water flowing in at IT and Intellectual capital, Bengaluru of India.

Some of the very posh apartment complexes are under severe shortages to the extent that there is no water for even basics, Like, toilet etc. Scarcity of water is not new or first time at Bengaluru and Many experts have predicted the scarcity years ago which is worsening over time. It happens in every summer however this time, it started in March itself hence it is more alarming. 

Even a 20 ltr drinking water bottle is in shortage which is lifeline for almost all bachelors. It amazes any outsiders that how can Bengaluru (pride of India) gets into such situations every year and still continues to grow.

Read the news here:  https://www.deccanherald.com/india/karnataka/bengaluru/bengaluru-apartment-owners-struggle-as-water-crisis-leaves-them-high-and-dry-2927943

Why such a situation?

Successive governments and authorities have failed to plan as per exponential growth of city and constant construction over lake beds and drying of borewells. Citizens also have not taken water saving measures seriously and many talk about it during summer and once crisis is over, we go back to our routine life.

Got a joke on Whatsapp which beautifully explains the dilemma of Bengalurians..

Is there a solution?

Yes, there are many without depending on Government and Authorities. I live in Suncity Apartments at Ibblur consists of 1300+ flats and we have not faced any water issue from last few years due to multiple sources of water, which are, Cauvery (BWSSB), Borewells, STP treated water, RWH (naturally when rain comes) and tankers.

Same time, we have invested in building an infrastructure over the years which includes installing water meters, reuse of RO water, RWH, additional capacity to store water, separate tanks for STP treated water and educating residents of water usage etc.

How bad it was some years back in our apartments?

I remember those dreaded days when we were on roads against builder many times between year 2010 to 2011 due to no water in our flats. Many volunteers worked full time taking 3-4 days of leaves from work to get some drops of water so that kids can go to school.

Many nearby apartment complexes helped us and we were at the mercy of the water tanker mafia because many of them refused to supply us due to a vendor who bullied us to not let other tankers vendors come in. Finally, we worked many different ways to get entries of 3-4 tanker vendors and signed yearly contracts.

The moment they came in, life became normal and we got breathing time to look at borewells, STP water, RWH and to get BWSSB water connection.

So, What was the learning?

We learnt that we need multiple sources of water, an infrastructure to support it, a culture of saving water and ensure accountability for using water.

How it all started?

We introduced a few posts in our Executive Committee (EC) to bring focus, e.g, RWH director, STP director, a committee to work with BWSSB, and board members to work with tanker vendors etc.

Now, due to the sheer size of complex and varying opinions, it was tough to build infrastructure which required huge investments hence we took it in phases. Many volunteers (Executive Committee) in successive years worked towards building an infrastructure so that such a situation NEVER repeats.

How we built multiple sources of water?

We did many initiatives together where EC worked on a plan to raise funds from residents in phases, got subject matter experts and vendors to execute them. Needless to mention, many volunteers came forward and did it with passion.

  1. Rain Water Harvesting (RWH)

We were one of the first large societies to implement Roof Top RWH in year 2012-2013 and connections with sumps etc. This also needed investment on roofs and pipelines etc which were done in a very professional manner as it became a case study.

  1. Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) treated water reuse:

It required big infrastructure where we had to lay down separate tanks, pipelines in each building and common areas and finally to each bathroom of flats. 3000+ Bathrooms of 1300+ flats were connected with STP water starting from 2017 till 2019 in phases. Our EC had tough time in convincing to residents because some of them did not want treated water from STP in their urinals or cisterns.

We also invested in infrastructure to ensure that all greeneries get water from STP only. It took the hard work of many volunteers in each building and a few years and we ensured no one had to suffer with the very basics of life. 

Our EC also explored Boom Tube Resonator technology which can provide potable water from STP however it could not be taken due to emotional outburst of some residents. 

  1. Upkeep of existing borewells

We looked in to existing borewells and revived few of them. Some of them had gone very deep and became non-operational. We realised that borewells also come with an end date and it is not endless water and we have to use it judiciously. We decided to not dig new borewells and use existing ones in limited way to keep it as reservoir for future. We also recharged the borewells..

  1. Cauvery Water from BWSSB

This was one of the toughest task and builder was supposed to provide it by year 2009 itself when almost all buildings got ready. We paid BWSSB charges to the builder but he failed to deliver Cauvery water to us.

Finally, we realised that builder is not going to help us or give money for BWSSB water connection. It became a matter of survival to get additional source of water even if we had to pay double money now. It took effort from 3-4 successive ECs and help from our MLA and MP to finally get BWSSB water in Oct-2020.

Collecting money from 1300+ flats itself was a big challenge but this secured our future.

  1. Tankers

Now, we come to tanker vendors. In year 2011, we understood that we cannot survive without tankers water and even if we get multiple sources of water, we would still need them if Cauvery water supply or yield from other sources is not enough. We learnt that we must have min 4 vendors at any given time for such a huge society. As of now, we have 6 vendors from last 5-6 yrs who provide certain pre-defined quantity on daily basis, 365 days a year.

Over years, we have reduced our tanker water consumption to 25% and we continue to get them as these vendors have also helped us in worst of crisis at Bengaluru.

Accountability and culture of saving water

Unless there is accountability, people may not feel urge to save water hence it was felt from long time that we must have water meter installed to know the consumption. It was not easy because there were many inlets in the house. Few months went in planning and negotiation and finally we got it done in most building between year 2021 to 2022. This brought water usage down by 10-20% and also, water charges were billed as per usage.

Conclusion

It is critical that we give utmost importance to availability of water through out the year. It needs proper planning and leadership by residents of apartment complex. In individual house, one must get RWH implemented. STP treated water is a boon which reduces water consumption by 30% and even with technology, one can use it for bathing also.

If you are facing water crisis then let’s not worry about money but implement all above practices. If you are busy still take out some time to do it. Do not go on vacation until continuity of water is assured.

~ Hariprakash Agrawal

About Author

Hariprakash (Hari) is the Founder and CEO of RideAlly Travels (Started in 2015), a company that is transforming commutes by providing safe, secure, and GUARANTEED CABS services in multiple cities in India.

He is an active volunteer, social worker and have served many NGOs, like, Rotary Club, BSPIN, Suncity Apartments Associations (1300+ flats), ASCI, Alumni Association, Orphanages etc. You may connect with him at LinkedIn, in.linkedin.com/in/hariprakash/

One thought on “Water Scarcity & Solutions for Apartments Complex

  1. Uma Shankar Prasad says:

    This is such great example of managing resources. Suncity being one of the oldest apartments in Bangalore is living by example. Where more than 70% of the Bangalore doesn’t have sufficient water and this apartment has not seen a single hr of dry tap. The practices followed here should be used as a case study and same should be implemented across multiple apartments in Bangalore

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