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Lessons on water conservation from this community in Vizag

At a time when major Indian cities are being warned about an impending water crisis in the coming years as erratic rainfall and shrinking ground water table are making it worse, a community in Visakhapatnam is showing the way for water conservation in a big way. The JR Nagar Resident’s Welfare Association (RWA) has set an example by adopting various conservation measures.
 
In recognition of its efforts to recharge the water table, the association has won the National Water Award instituted by the Union Ministry of Water Resources for the 2018-19 fiscal year. It was adjudged the third best in the country in the RWA category. JR Nagar RWA president K.S.R. Murthy received the award, along with a cash prize of ₹1 lakh, from Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Mehghwal at a function held in New Delhi on February 25.
 
Community effort 
 
The JR Nagar RWA has set up eight water harvesting structures in the colony, with the latest one being rectangular with three inlets. The other seven, all round in shape with a diameter of three feet, were built in 2014. Situated in the foothills in nearly 10 acres, the colony has an advantage as water flows down copiously.
 
The apartments and houses in the colony have rainwater harvesting pits. Some residents also have second recharge pit to collect the roof-top water. An apartment complex built in 2014 has the arrangements to gather the water at one point through pipes. The residents have complied with the instructions issued by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) that has made recharge pits compulsory in early 2,000. All of these have come as a blessing in disguise,” RWA secretary B. Perumallu Raju says.
 
Explaining about the award, Mr. Murthy says 50 % of the marks are for creation of rainwater harvesting structures while the remaining is for its impact. Experts from the Central Groundwater Department who came for the assessment measured the groundwater level. Water is available at about 50 feet while in the other stressed areas, it is as deep as 300 feet, Mr. Murthy explains.
 
“We are happy that our efforts have paid off. We never felt the need of buying a bucket of water from outside in the last several years,” he adds. Residents having a well with removable slabs are also reaping benefits. “After the Cyclone Hudhud, power failed and there was no water supply. The well in my house stood in a good stead, catering to the needs of the colony,” RWA executive member K. Devendra Varma recalls.
 
“The experts have suggested some improvements on the water conservation methods. The award money will be spent on the implementation of the suggestions,” Mr. Murthy says. They told us to ensure that all rainwater harvesting structures should be in rectangular shape with three inlets.
 
“Now, we want to explore the possibility of deepening the abandoned wells and converting them into recharge pits. To improve the maintenance, all recharge pits will now be fitted with removable lids,” he adds.

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