Lack of understanding is the reason for lack of involvement on rainwater harvesting of the government and the public.

This is a summary adapted from a brief prepared by Dr Sekar Raghavan which was shared during a Round Table Discussion in India on the 11th of May 2021.

Most people, particularly those living in urban areas, have not understood rainwater harvesting (RWH) clearly. This is also true of officials representing the various Government departments. Some of them tend to think that rainwater harvesting is an alternative to other sources of water. While there are others who think that rainwater harvesting is a new technology.

All this is not only true but also incorrect. This lack of understanding has resulted in a lack of involvement and importance of rainwater harvesting by both the state and the public. This is probably the reason that rainwater harvesting has not become a people’s movement even after twenty years of intense campaigning by a few individuals and organizations.

The earth gets water either from melting of ice or precipitation (rainfall). Therefore, glaciers and rainfall are considered as “Primary sources of freshwater on earth”. This in turn flows into rivers, gets collected in surface water bodies such as irrigation tanks, lakes, ponds etc and / or infiltrates into the soil & remains there as groundwater. Let us call them the “Secondary sources of freshwater on earth”. Some of the secondary sources such as rivers and natural depressions could be natural and the others man-made.

The transition from primary sources to secondary sources has come to be known as “rainwater harvesting” (RWH). This once again can happen naturally (without human intervention) or with human intervention.

Surface water, found above the soil in rivers, ponds and lakes and ground water (found below the soil) should be thought of as the two children of rainwater. Rainwater is the mother that gave birth to these two children. Therefore, we should not think separately of the children from the mother, always keeping in mind that mother will take care of the children. There should not be any efforts y to separate the children from the mother lest they become orphans.

Both the mother, which is rainwater as well as the children (surface and groundwater) should be taken care of during the present as well as in the future. These children unlike the normal ones, continue to be children for ever and will have to be taken care of all the time.

Water experts often talk about the relationship between surface and ground water. Isn’t that obvious? They are blood relatives.

With climate change coming into play, in future, floods & droughts will not only be unpredictable but also more severe than the previous ones. Both can be mitigated only by making sincere attempts to harvest rain.

Some of the slogans that have been framed are given below.

  1. Catch Rain It’s Free.
  2. Making not only Water Everybody’s Business but also Rainwater Harvesting Everybody’s Business.
  3. No More Lip Service to Water & Rainwater Harvesting
  4. Water and Rainwater Harvesting will have to be understood beyond words.
  5. Love Water and Rain the way we love our Children.

Prepared by, Dr Sekhar Raghavan, Director, Rain Center, Chennai, May 13, 2021

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