Pakistan is a water scarce country. That is, it has 1000 m3 of water availability per person. This is because of mismanagement, ignorance, poor governance and absentee landlords masquerading as leaders.
The good news is that we have about 140 MAF (Million acre- Foot) of water available to us every year that theoretically we can use. The 14 MAF we do store is not enough for our water-intensive economy and bunny rabbit population — as we are also the highest water users per person, in the world. We also don’t take the tax on water being used in the agriculture sector. The rest of the water, we drain into the Arabian Sea. This situation is no more sustainable as there is not enough water to go around, in the cities anymore.
Severe environment damage like deforestation, pollution, unregulated subsoil water use, overpopulation and poor irrigation techniques are rapidly taking us to a self-created drought.
With unpredictable rains and monsoons’, Mother Nature is not getting us out of this ditch.
As the water in our limited large dams cannot be brought to every citizen’s doorstep, each household has to fend for itself.
It’s about time we ourselves do something about it.
I have a solution for this and that is Rainwater harvesting in the cities to meet some of our daily needs. These are the steps that we need to take to enjoy God’s bounty of freshwater:-
Block all exits of rainwater out of your property. Just make sure the water doesn’t seep into your foundations or your basement.
Build holding ditches and embankments to slow down rainwater running outside into drains. The idea is to pool water in your lawn or backyard to help the earth absorb some of it.
Underground aquifer, wells, and water bores can be replenished by directing rainwater into pits around your property. The idea is not to let a single drop of rainwater flush out into the street.
For that, we need to dig a 4 ft. x 4 ft. ditch at the lowest point in your property, line it with a mix of cement gravel, sand, topped with a polythene cover. A ditch lined with gravel, sand, and charcoal can clear out most of the contaminants of rainwater. The total cost of this effort would be Rs 1500 tops.
Now place holding container, barrels or water tanks right beneath roof drains. A better idea would be to collect the drain water splashing around your tank with a polythene sheet placed on top, like an inverted umbrella. One 1000 liter Plastic tank costs Rs 9000. There are cheaper ones too. A nylon net over the neck of the tank would keep out physical contaminants like leave and twigs. A more dense net can even clear out sand from entering the tank.
Statistics say a 1000 square foot roof would collect 600 gallons in a one-inch rainfall. This is a lot, considering average rainfall per year is between 50-100 inches.
Several tanks can be filled by interconnecting them with pipes on the top half.
You can also have aqua ducts installed all around the corners of the slanting roof to route water into your storage tanks. PVC pipes used forth this purpose cost around Rs 100 per meter.
As Pakistan’s average temperatures are forecasted to rise 5 0 Centigrade, by the next decade, that means the existing surface water has to be protected with shrubs, trees, and bushes. So plant more shady trees.
While you are at it, it’s not a bad idea to divert all the used water from the sinks and bathtub into your toilet flushes, plants, and lawns.
Coming to uses of rainwater…
Rainwater can be used to wash cars, feed animals, clean clothes, water plants and wash floors — the same job you’d need to pay for with water tankers.
Rainwater can be also be consumed by boiling it and filtering out sand.
One water tanker hired to fill in your ground tank at home costs Rs 1500 per 2000 liters. So, in comparison with this, you’d be profitable with your rainwater harvesting equipment after the sixth rainfall.
On top of that, the additional water in the aquifers’ that you replenished would be a bonus.
As predicted, this year’s monsoon would be short and less intense. So, now is the right time to install your rain harvesting equipment to enjoy in comfort for the rest of the year.