Silveron’s Exceptional Approach Towards Rain Water Harvesting

Rain water harvesting is an interesting field for people who have passion for water, who are inquisitive, who have imagination, who are keen observers, who like to learn, who love experimentation, who are not afraid of failure, who have perseverance and who have innovative minds.

Rain water harvesting is different from other disciplines of science and engineering because it is not a standard formula based subject. Every factor involved is a variable, like for example the rain fall quantum, its intensity and days are unpredictable while an important factor like soil formation is variable from location to location.

Interestingly, we at Silveron have come across situations where the results of the same rain water harvesting efforts differ astonishingly at different locations even though all factors and conditions seem identical at both locations. This is what makes rain water harvesting so challenging.

At Silveron, we value the wisdom of the old residents of any village where we plan to work and to begin with our experienced team interacts with the village elders and tries to evaluate what the situation was like in that area, may be a decade ago and what the situation is in the present time and their opinion about the factors which have resulted in the difference.

Team Silveron, thereafter uses regular tools and data to draw their own inferences but at no stage ever we ignore the experience and wisdom of the local village elders. There have been occasions where we ignored the instrumental data & inferences and in favor of  the observations and advise of the local elders and we never had reason to regret.

Study of the strata deep below
Study of the strata deep below

Like every child is different for the parents, every shaft is different for us. Even today, every Silveron recharge shaft constructed is treated as the first shaft. Every aspect is examined including intake capacity and speed. Nothing is taken for granted on the basis of our years of experience in the field of water conservation.

Test and Trial of Shaft
Test and Trial of Shaft

Where ever possible, especially where the roof top water is diverted through pipe towards the recharge shaft, Silveron places meter in the flow path of water to measure the quantum of water actually recharged by the structure during the monsoon/year.

Field trials for Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Field trials for Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Very often team Silveron can be seen conducting field trials in order to create rain water harvesting designs which are easy to built and maintain while being of top grade in performance and cost effective so that the rain water ‘harvesting movement’ can be sped up with the participation of more and more people and our planet be saved from water starvation.

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Rain Water Harvesting – The Ultimate Charity

In India, there is an unending list of activities being undertaken by business houses and industries towards the fulfillment of their social responsibility while every individual also keeps doing some act of charity on his own.

There is no argument on the fact that water is one of the most essential natural resource needed by all living beings on earth. There is no denying of the fact that ground water levels are fast declining.

Water scarce land
Water scarce land

Rain water harvesting if done properly, is the most sustainable long lasting and beneficial act which can be done for the society at large.

We at SILVERON consider rain water harvesting as the ultimate Corporate Social Responsibility and charity which any individuals as well as corporates can do. In rain water harvesting, the harvester does not know who shall be the beneficiary and the beneficiaries do not know whose action has benefited them. This is why we consider Rainwater Harvesting as the ultimate charity.

We wish that all individuals and industries commit to make more rain water harvesting structures each year. These will add on to the already existing structures and hence each year the quantum of water recharged will keep increasing and a time will come when the recharge quantum will match the water withdrawal quantum and this will lead to the arrest of the decline in ground water table. The subsequent year may see improvement in ground water levels and increased quantum of available water.

The water situation in India has already reached an alarming level and we are already late for taking remedial action. It high time the Government spell out loudly to the people about the crisis and how it plans to deal with it. There is no time to play hide and seek on this subject and those in authority must stop trying short term remedies to manage the water crisis by transporting water from one location to the other. We have seen enough of water trains on the rail tracks and water tankers on the roads.

The water policy has to be re-looked into and redesigned. Who takes responsibility for water crisis – State or Central Government? Who takes responsibility for remedial planning? Who takes exclusive responsibility of formulating rules and ensuring monitoring of implementation?

Existing policies like, in a notified area the government will not give permission to anybody to dig a fresh tube well irrespective of all the Rainwater Harvesting efforts and structures he makes in that area while those who already have old operative running tube wells are permitted to continue to draw water even if they have done no effort to harvest rain water.

What difference will it make on the load on ground water if one person who can withdraw water starts selling water to the person who does not have permission to withdraw water?

With this regulation in place, who will make rain water harvesting efforts in notified area? Who will deposit money in that bank from which withdrawal is not permitted? This policy will surely squeeze every notified area dry and make it uninhabitable and lead to exodus of residents. The shifting population will generate additional load on the ground water resource of that area where they go.

Ultimately, will the situation drive us back to the same river banks from where our early civilization started?

Sincere Rainwater Harvesting effort is the only solution in hand which can help reverse the ground water shortage and declining water table issue. It is the need of the hour that all stake holders act immediately and that too on a large scale.

It is time for the government to motivate people and industries to go for rain water harvesting projects by giving them subsidy and tax exemption for all rain water harvesting works they do.

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Water Wisdom – Step well (Bawari)

Hundreds of years ago, the only way to travel was on foot or ride on animal back or animal drawn carts. Traveling from one place to another would be taking days or weeks or may be months hence the step well (Bawari) became an important landmark site for the traveler since it had water as well as rooms/corridors to cook food and rest during the night.

Centuries ago the ground water extraction was only from open wells manually or with help of animals. Even the quantity of water withdrawal was much less than the natural recharge of rain water hence the water table was high and water was available just a few feet below the ground. In such circumstances if a big diameter well was dug to even a depth of 30 to 50 ft, it naturally got filled with water, thereafter steps were constructed from ground level till the depth of the well so that the traveler could walk down till the water level and draw water. Corridors and rooms were constructed around the water body as resting space for the travelers.

Every step well also had an open well connected to it and naturally the water level in the open well was the same as that in the step well and those travelers who had bucket etc. could draw water from the well too and even farming was done using water from these open wells.

Constructing a step well was considered a great act of charity hence step wells were constructed in large numbers not only by the ruling king as a social benefit project but also by rich traders from share of their business profits.

We observed that some step wells were ground water level dependent and were dug in alluvium and their base was permeable. Such water bodies had visible water till the ground water level was higher than the depth of the step well but as the water table declined below the base level of the step well these step wells became dry and devoid of water, as they  stand today.

Some step wells were dug only till a level where natural hard rock was encountered hence these step wells have uneven hard rock non permeable base.  SaraI Bawari and Kale Hanuman ki Bawari are two such historical 15th century Step wells (Bawari) at Amber, Jaipur. Restored & rejuvenated by SILVERON from 2005 and thereafter and it will be interesting to note that both these step wells hold good quantity of water even today.

To be able to do any restoration and rejuvenation work, team Silveron had to empty the water from the step well. This task was difficult since there was regular inflow of water and streams of water could be seen gushing in from the side walls at various levels from 5 to 40 ft. below the ground surface. Multiple dewatering engines were deployed day and night during the entire work to keep the water level low in order to be able to work.

These step wells are surrounded by multiple rocky hills and rain water which collects in large pockets at higher levels forms minute channels just under the surface of the ground at various levels and flows towards the step well.

As the step well fills with water, the collected water in the step well tries to go back from the same inlet points and this works as a plug to stop the in-flowing water, hence Bawari does not over flow and when water is withdrawn the same quantity is replenished.

Sarai Bawari - Restoration work in progress.
Sarai Bawari – Restoration work in progress.
kalehanumanji-bawari-restoration
Kale Hanuman Ji ki Bawari – Restoration work in progress.

Though the current times of fast pace travel and water supply pumped directly into the home may have made the Bawari (step well) irrelevant but they will always remain a heritage site and will continue to speaks volumes about the wisdom and caliber of our ancestors.

 

restored-bawaris
Restored 15th Century Stepwells – Sarai Bawari & Kale Hanuman Ji ki Bawari

 

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Rain Water Harvesting

Team SILVERON, on the basis of their experimentation, experience and analysis conclude that for rain water harvesting, ‘diameter has very little meaning and it is the depth which is more important’.

In simple terms, since the strata keeps changing as we drill down the earth, we are likely to encounter some soil strata which absorb more water, some which absorb less and some which absorb none.

The idea of only digging a rain water collection pond for recharge purpose is partly successful  since the base of the freshly dug pond will permit percolation of rain water but in due course of time it will become hard and non permeable. The diameter of the pond will increase the water holding volume of the pond but will also at the same time increase surface area from where water will evaporate. The depth of this pond may be say  5 to 10 ft so at the edges of the pond we get exposed ground strata of only 5 to 10 ft. and this is too less.

On the basis of these observations, SILVERON excavates and develops ponds in the low lying area and simultaneously constructs recharge shafts in appropriate numbers to allow rain water to flow into the pond during rains and find passage to percolate into the ground and enrich the ground water. 

Shafts in pond to recharge water
Shafts in pond to recharge water and check overflow
rainwater harvesting pond during monsoon
Same pond during monsoon

This makes recharge through pond a 100% successful project and SILVERON a premier solution provider for rain water harvesting.

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Rain Water Harvesting – a work of art with scientific sense

Our knowledge about outer space is much more than our knowledge about the inside of our own earth.

Water is absorbed as soon as it is poured on the ground, so like most people, we also thought that soil and water are great friends. It was only after years of experimentation that team SILVERON realized the fact that water and soil are not friends.

We noticed that the flowing water carries suspended silt and dissolved salts from the soil and collects at the base of the low-lying area. After the collected water has evaporated the silt and salts remain deposited at the base of the low-lying area.

View of hardened non-permeable low-lying land
View of hardened non-permeable low-lying land

The repetition of this process, monsoon after monsoon gradually makes the base of the low-lying area hard and non permeable hence we observed that the soil gradually creates its own resistance to percolation of water. This is the reason for formation of water bodies in low lying areas where rain water flows and stands for months even after the monsoon.

In India these water bodies are called by different names like Nadi or Johad, etc.

View of water filled during monsoon in the same low-lying land
View of water filled during monsoon in the same low-lying land

It is interesting to note that each time when the farmer waters his crop, the soil and water interaction leads to the same natural phenomenon of formation and deposition of film on the soil surface and this is one of the reasons why the farmer is required to till his land in order to break this film before planting the next crop. The tilling of soil is required even in potted plants as you must have observed.

Such natural phenomenons make sustainable rain water harvesting a tricky subject and hence it needs to be appreciated that though rain water harvesting may not be rocket science but it is not as simple as it appears. Investigative tools provide some help but still at the end of the day one has to execute the work in unknown terrain deep inside the ground.

Rain water harvesting is not just about digging a hole in the ground and releasing water into it. Rain water harvesting work calls for passion, imagination and experience as it is no less than doing a work of fine art.

Artificial Ground water recharge as some people prefer to address rain water harvesting as, is actually the most site specific work hence type of work and scope of work varies from location to location and the harvester who is experienced and who understands the subject has to often modify his design if he observes some new conditions even if his work in progress has reached an advanced stage since he understands that any compromise will lead to poor performance or holding of water in the structure.

Experts at SILVERON understand that earth cannot be forced to absorb water like an injection can force the antibiotic into human body hence they take all natural factors into account and design the rain water harvesting structure in accordance to the ground formation/strata of that area.This makes SILVERON a premier rain water harvesting solution provider and reflects performance of SILVERON recharge structures.

Supporting nature – a sure path to success                                                                 Going against nature – a recipe for failure 
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