Metropolis officials yet to make policies on harvesting rainwater

- GAURAV THAPA, Kathmandu
Metropolis officials yet to make policies on harvesting rainwater

Apr 15, 2015-

Though rainfall in the Valley often makes the roads muddy and leads to overflowing of drains, Niraj Chudal of Balaju takes it as an opportunity for he has installed a rainwater harvesting system at his rooftop.

“The rains will replenish my water tank at the cost of having to tread wet roads,” he said. “I will take that bargain any day.”

Chronic shortage of water in the Capital is worse than muddy roads for people like Chudal. The Valley’s water supply authority, Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL), supplies only around 90 million litres of water per day in dry season and around 150 million litres in the rainy season while the demand is for over 350 million litres. Hence, people have no alternative other than buying water from tankers or heavily economising on using water.

The concept of harvesting rainwater for drinking, cooking and other domestic uses is gradually attracting Valley residents. Meteorological data show that the Valley, on average, receives 1,600 millimetres of rainfall annually. Experts say a house with a roof area of about 1,000 square feet (about three and a half annas) has the potential to collect 160,000 litres of water. This can go a long way towards solving the water woes.

“The rainwater collected over a year is sufficient for a family of four for six to eight months,” Bijay Sharma, general manager of water solutions company Smart Paani, said. “Water problems will be close to non-existent as a result.” According to Sharma, a rainwater harvesting system can be installed at a building with minimum investment of Rs 35,000 and close-to-none maintenance expenses. The water that falls on the roof is channelled towards a filtration system and then to a reservoir. The end product is drinkable water.

Despite overwhelming promises, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is yet to come with a concrete policy in favour of the system. Four years ago, the metropolis council had directed the officials at the local body to formulate required criteria to encourage homeowners to make rainwater harvesting arrangements. Providing concession in building permit fees for newly-built houses with the system in place was envisioned. “No progress has been made towards that end,” Archana Shrestha, head of the KMC’s Urban Development Department, said. She, however, said the city authority will come up with an effective policy by the end of the current fiscal year as budget for the purpose has already allocated.

KMC’s Environment Division chief Rabin Man Shrestha said the metropolis collaborated with the NGO Forum for Urban Water & Sanitation to promote the rainwater harvesting system in the city but their efforts have not very successful due to the lack of public interest.

Nevertheless, Sharma of Smart Paani said the demand for rainwater harvesting system is increasing by the day as people are being more aware of its potential to make them self-reliant. Till date, his company has catered to about 300 clients. Local people in Kathmandu were really hopeful when the government started the Melamchi Drinking Water Project with a view to supplying 170 million litres of water per day. The project began in 2001 but its sluggish work has delayed completion. The KUKL’s target of bringing Melamchi water to Kathmandu by the first half of 2016 has to be revised for the umpteenth time as reports are surfacing that works are not moving ahead as planned.

“Everybody was counting on Melamchi but I could wait no longer,” Chudal said. “Now my house rarely faces water crunch. Even neighbours borrow water from me.”

Published: 16-04-2015 09:48

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