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RAiN Forum Newsletter
November' 2012 Edition

It has been a tradition of human nature to adapt to changing conditions of mother earth and making way for it in their own life. Nature has been changing from ages to ages without quite considering how the creatures would cope with that, leaving signs of their realm in different places in diverse manner. People who have grown up with one culture often wonders how things have changed in his/her lifetime. But there are still few matters that have hardly changed in this world from its beginning to date. Counting those things will be daunting task and it was not intended to introduce them here. Among those necessities, or mandatories we could rather say, SAFE WATER can be considered as the base for developing any sort of civilization anywhere. All the civilizations that have flourished in the history evolved around sources of fresh water, though the source might not had the resource to fulfill all the needs. But no society can overlook the necessity of fresh water in their life and never will. As a result, it has been a responsibility of the concerned society to look after the smooth supply of fresh water in daily life. In the present culture of compartmentalization, a certain group of people, from both Government and Non-Government are carrying this responsibility rather than leaving all the people to concern about it. For developed countries and also where the fresh water resources are abundant, it is not a major challenge to supply water and keeping the citizens happy with that. As long as the water is supplied to the demand and the quality is not objectionable, people who are responsible are not under any sort of pressure. But when it comes to a developing country like Bangladesh of South Asia, it has been a major task to optimize the resources and also keeping the quality of that water with the limited financial resources and technology. So water of sound quality and in adequate quantity has become an issue all over Bangladesh. The escalation of this problem of water scarcity have been identified by the people. But the approach towards mitigation of the crisis is still a concern from overall perspective. The sensitization of consumers are not practiced well and the lack of importance given to using the already limited resource is causing shortfall in many places. Apart from that, a proper planning to supply all types of users to their demand, which varies from place to places and user to user, is still not in the scenario. Addressing these issues are very important as the rate of urbanization have been adding to the current shortfall and if the approach of leaving it all to the government does not change soon, people might have to abandon the place that they have aiming to live for their life due to the shortage of this fundamental element of life.

The ideal or suitable way of managing water resources in Bangladesh may bring forth many discordant noises. It has been not so long that many of the professionals in this sector are buoyant to adopt the modern technologies to overcome the shortfall or crisis across different geographical areas of Bangladesh. There is something very appealing about these modern technologies, though a lot of times it has been overlooked how irrational or ecologically destructive it might be on occasions. It is not intended to stop using these modern technologies while many cities and municipalities are being served by them. As long as the system runs fine and meet the demand of people, everyone is content with that. But when problems like salinity, chemical contamination, groundwater depletion along with the increasing demand in expanding cities have already appeared in the horizon, it is getting difficult to manage the demand day by day. For proving ourselves modern by following the western technologies and adopting them, policy makers can go for the sophisticated ways or stick to the current systems, no matter how costly or unsustainable the system is. If the government is willing to prove their intent, they can even bring water on airplanes in modern era. But considering the adaptive capability and available resources, it is of major importance that approaches are taken to help the condition in a manner that will reduce the burden on current economy and also the the system itself is sustainable. Therefore, sensitization on prudent use of water resources and also for adopting the right kind of technology, starting from ancient indigenous rainwater harvesting to the expensive surface water treatment, are necessary to ensure a sound, safe and economically viable practice for future generation.

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Safe drinking water is a pre-requisite for development of any society. All the known civilizations have flourished with water source as the base and it is true in the present context too. Availability of safe drinking water is one of the basic minimum requirements for healthy living. Despite the advancements of technology in recent pasts, the global scenario still remains grim, as all the inhabitants of the world do not have access to safe water.

water-collecting-queue

In the face of increasing scarcity of water resources, there is a need for every user to think about the possible solution to cope with the crisis. Like many other developing countries, public water supply in Bangladesh evidently provides a shortfall in demand. Towards sustainable management of freshwater with respect to the physical alternatives, the possible solutions could be finding alternate or additional water resources using conventional centralized approaches; or utilizing the limited amount of water resources available in a more efficient way.

Among the various technologies to augment freshwater resources in order to reduce the scarcity of safe water, Rainwater Harvesting and its utilization could be an environmentally sound solution, which can avoid many environmental problems often caused by conventional large-scale projects using centralized approaches.

Rainwater is an important water source in many areas with significant rainfall like Bangladesh. It is also a good option in areas where good quality fresh surface water or ground water is lacking or difficult to avail. It is said that nature's renewable sources will probably never end. But these resources are not usually explored enough to mitigate the crisis. Rainwater is one of those resources available from nature which is abundant in almost all parts of Bangladesh.
Rainwater harvesting, in its broadest sense, is a technology used for collecting and storing rainwater for human use from rooftops, land surfaces or rock catchments using simple techniques such as jars and pots as well as engineered techniques.

rwh-urban

Rainwater harvesting is a good alternative in areas where there is sufficient rain but the ground water supply and surface water resources are either lacking or insufficient. It could also be thought as a long term answer to the problem of water scarcity. Rainwater harvesting system is particularly useful in remote and hard-to-reach areas as it can be maintained independently.
There are a number of ways in which water harvesting can benefit a community –rwh-rural

  •  Rainwater harvesting enables efficient collection and storage of rainwater makes it accessible and substitutes for poor quality water.
  •  While traditional sources are located away from the community particularly in peri-urban areas, collecting and storing water close to households, villages or pastures greatly enhances the accessibility and convenience of water supplies.
  •  The rainwater collected can be stored for direct use or can be recharged into the ground water to improve the quality of ground water.
  •  Rainwater harvesting is an ideal solution to water problems in areas having inadequate water resources and helpful in mitigation of the effects of drought.

 

Rainwater is also the cheapest form of raw water. The rainwater harvesting systems can be both individual and community/utility operated and managed. Rainwater collected using various methods has less negative environmental impacts compared to other technologies for water resources development. The physical and chemical properties of rainwater are usually superior to sources of ground water that may have been subjected to contamination. Rainwater is relatively clean and the quality is usually acceptable for many purposes with little or even no treatment. Rainwater harvesting technologies are flexible and can be built to meet almost any requirements. Construction, operation, and maintenance are not labor intensive. The role of rainwater harvesting systems as sources of supplementary, back-up, or emergency water supply will become more important especially in view of increased climate variability and the possibility of greater frequencies of droughts and floods in many areas. This will particularly be the case in areas where increasing pressure is put on existing water resources.

Groundwater has now become a major natural resource contributing the water supply system in many areas of Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka. Due to urbanization, surface infiltration has been vastly reduced while consumption of groundwater is increasing. In addition, the over exploitation through excessive extraction of groundwater have been exceeding its replenishment capacity. This has lead to searching for deeper aquifers and making the whole process more costly. As surface water is very costly and inadequate to meet our demand in many places and due to rapid urbanization, infiltration of rainwater into the sub-soil has decreased drastically, artificial recharge through rainwater harvesting is essential to replenish the groundwater. The mechanism is very simple and requires little space. Artificial recharge to ground water is a process by which the groundwater reservoir is augmented at a rate exceeding that obtaining under natural conditions of replenishment.

In addition to its potential to generate considerable quantities of water, rainwater harvesting results in a process of collecting water that is decentralized and therefore, relatively less vulnerable than conventional public water supplies to natural disasters. Another advantage of rainwater harvesting is that its systems are generally cost-competitive with well drilling and it provides water that is naturally soft, eliminating the need for water softeners. Considering the adaptive capability and available resources, rainwater harvesting can be considered as a sustainable option in water resource management.

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