Global Grant Project:
Water body Rejuvenation R.I.District 3182
The project is to rejuvenate 11 selected water bodies in the 4 Revenue Districts : Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Udupi which cover the Rotary District 3182. and make them functional
Rejuvenation of water bodies include Lakes (Natural, Manmade, Deep & Shallow), reservoirs, tanks and ponds located in urban, semi urban and rural areas and to some extent addresses the drains, streams and nallahs that discharge in to these water bodies.
Public health and Environmental health are interlinked, As an old saying WATER IS LIFE, it is interpreted as water is important for our survival means that water contains life and therefore waterbodies are LIVING SYSTEMS.
India is facing its worst water crisis in last four decades. At least 54 percent of the sub-continent has turned into a water-stressed dust bowl with many water bodies rapidly drying up. Experts opine that by 2035, the country will be facing an acute water crisis if no preventive measures are taken today.
To mitigate the water crisis, there is an urgent need to revive lost water sources and other water bodies such as ponds, wells, canals and temple tanks in various places. The Water body Rejuvenation Project, is aimed at providing a long-term and lasting solution to the Water crisis. With meticulous planning and consistent efforts, results can be seen in several rivers, lakes, ponds and other smaller water bodies.
The average amount of rainfall has remained the same over the past 50 years. Despite that many rain- fed rivers have become dry. The main cause was traced to the mismanagement and unchecked overuse of this precious resource. Loss of green cover has resulted in water not percolating into the ground to recharge the water table below. This disruption of natural groundwater recharge mechanisms has disabled waterbodies from replenishing themselves. People dug bore wells indiscriminately aggravating the situation. Over the years, planting of water intensive crops has further worsened the situation resulting in insurmountable debts and farmer suicides. Veering away from our traditional cropping pattern and water harvesting techniques has cost the country very heavily.
Identification of water bodies for rejuvenation:
A detailed community assessment survey has been conducted in four revenue Districts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Udupi. [Area covering R.I.District 3182]. Based on the survey & report from localities a detailed strategy and plan of action is being worked out for Water Body rejuvenation of selected lakes in these four Districts.
A three-pronged approach for the District Water body Rejuvenation project will be adopted:
1. Comprehensive: Provide local solutions in a scientific manner that mimics natural systems for restoring water.
2. Sustainable: Solve the immediate needs of giving people access to safe water and also create systems that ensure reliable supplies in the future.
3. Community-driven: Empower local communities through capacity building frameworks.
Two key issues for the success of project are,
• Adoption of a structured, strategic planning process
• Steps to reach the goals to fulfill the 3 pronged criteria.
Steps to be adopted:
De-silting lake beds and water bodies: It deepens the water body bed, making it possible to collect more water. The silt can be used by farmers as it is rich in nutrients.
Tree plantation: The loss of tree cover has been, to a very large extent, one of the sole causes of the drying up of little streams that emerge from the hills and feed rivers.
Boulder checks: Made of local stones only, this is a local yet scientific solution to slow down the speed of water, in turn reducing soil erosion.
Recharge wells and bore wells: Sustainable, community driven solutions to recharge underground water. They are well like structures that are dug in the path of the water flow and lined with locally made cement rings. They allow water to percolate to the water table underground.
Water pools: Made at the conjunction of two streams, these pools have a specific layout - a smaller pond to trap silt and a larger pool for storing the overflow.
Change in the cropping pattern: The aim is to wean farmers away from water intensive crops and chemical farming to natural farming and crops that symbiotically nourish each other.
The Action Plan shall be presented to the Zilla Panchayat and the Gram Panchayats. Several meetings of farmers with Gram Panchayat members are to be held highlighting the importance of activities to rejuvenation.
Water body rejuvenation projects create a long-lasting and powerful impact, like
Rise in groundwater levels: The primary impact of the water body rejuvenation projects can be seen in improvements of depleting groundwater levels.
Increasing farmers' incomes: The consistency in water supply has augmented farmers' incomes through improved agricultural yields and increased the number of crops per year, directly reducing farmer multiple problems.
Creates habitat (wet lands) for aquatic biodiversity, water birds and aquatic plants
Prevention and removal of encroachment of tank.
Curbing water tanker mafia: This has helped to curb the water tanker mafia that has proliferated in the target regions during the past decade.
Community engagement and employment generation: A significant proportion of these water body rejuvenation projects can be executed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme of the Government of India to generate long days of direct rural employment.
The success of the projects undertaken in partnership with the governments shall be resulted in major changes to the water policy and current government structures.
What we learn?
We shall learn that in such projects, the key is not just investing funds. It is also incredibly important to develop a sense of ownership in the local community so that they take responsibility to make the change sustainable. Besides, continuous dialogue with Zilla and Gram Panchayats regarding the project and its progress, it is important to share the experiences with local farmers and village beneficiaries and to involve the local government bodies. Participating of communities and voluntary agencies can also launch public awareness programmes for tank conservation, preservation and protection.
Rotary Global Grant project focusses on the Lakes in District 3182
Functions of Lake:
Lakes collect and store rain water for non-rainy period usage. They act as flood control systems and prevent soil erosion in the agricultural fields. Apart from providing water for domestic needs they support irrigation to some extent. Even today, with all the mighty dams and elaborate canal network irrigation system, in India, the tank fed irrigation is still significant especially in the semi-arid tropical parts of south India. Considering the disastrous impacts of big dams like, submergence of land, forest, rehabilitation, silting, forest fragmentation etc., small water bodies like lakes and tanks are more sustainable when compared to huge dams and are easy to maintain. Lakes locally control the humidity and temperature, provide shelter for aquatic life and also birds and various types of flora. Lakes also work to replenish groundwater, positively influence water quality of downstream watercourses, and preserve the biodiversity and habitat of the area.
Current status of Lakes
It is estimated that, in the middle of 20th century there were around 13 lakh small and medium size manmade lakes in India. Currently, majority of these lakes are either abandoned or encroached upon for growing needs of civic amenities. The few lakes which hold water even today are polluted due the discharge of sewage water from nearby localities. Usage of pesticide and limit less application of chemical fertilizer for agriculture is another reason for the pollution of lakes. The eutrophication of lakes leads to decrease in oxygen content of water which results in the death of aquatic life. Even though the average rain fall data do not suggest any decrease in the recent times, the water crisis is becoming more and more severe due to mismanagement of our traditional water bodies.
In order to address the water crisis, the lake rejuvenation work is to be carried out in a war footing manner. The steps by step methodology of lake rejuvenation is
1. Mark the boundaries of lake as per the survey records and remove the encroachments.
2. Identify the catchment area for the given lake and repair the water draining system.
3. Either divert the sewage water entry or use phyto remediation system for biological treatment of polluted water before allowing it into lake.
4. Where ever necessary, use appropriated sustainable water treatment systems for removing pesticide and other contaminants.
5. Strengthen the bund and spillway of the lake
6. Desilt the lake to its original capacity
7. Allow local fish and aquatic life to grow by seeding
8. Establish a committee comprising of beneficiaries for proper maintenance of the lake.
The project is to rejuvenate the 11 water bodies in 4 revenue districts covering R.I.District 3182by undertaking Desilting and Forestation activities to prevent soil erosion and make the lake sustainable. Other activities will be undertaken by different cooperating organizations with the participation of local self-Government: