July 26, 2021| Support a Pond|
Transformation from Gurgaon to Gurugram has been nothing short of a dreamy affair. But let’s face it, all love stories come to an end. With rapid urbanization, more than doubling population and heightened demand of land and water – the Gurugram story is nearing its end every day.
The cause of Gurugram’s end is well predicted and an expected one – Water Crisis. Gurugram depends heavily on groundwater for its daily water needs. As per the infamous CGWB report 2009, Gurugram has a groundwater extraction rate 308% higher than recharge rate. To simplify, Gurugram is using groundwater 308% faster than replenishing it. With the water table falling at such a pace, the millennium city of India is expected to be left high and dry by 2030!
Realizing the gravity of the situation, the District Administration of Gurugram along with Hero Moto Corp CSR formulated Gurujal – an integrated water management initiative. In addition to the challenge of falling groundwater levels, Gurujal deduced that 320 water bodies can be restored and rejuvenated by treating wastewater for daily use.
Under its Support a Pond initiative, Gurujal has till now restored 6 ponds and is working with various Government Departments and Corporates on 66 more ponds. The initiative has a potential to recharge 2,085 million liters of water which will be enough for 40, 620 people per year.
In addition to treating wastewater for use, the support a pond initiative also helps achieve some environmental and community goals. To understand this further, let’s understand the restoration process of Mozabad wastewater plant in Gurugram district.
40 KM from Gurugram, the Mozabad pond is situated in the Baba Syed Park, Block Pataudi. Of the 1.2 acres total area, 0.7 acres was pond area, and 0.5 acre was free land available. The Mozabad pond had become a wastewater dumping area for the village with a population of 1300+ people.
This resulted in contamination and formation of a silt base at the bottom of the pond, which further led to reduced percolation rate for groundwater table recharge. Before rejuvenation, the groundwater level was recorded at 35 mbgl.
GuruJal identified the location and followed a systematic approach for renovating and rejuvenating the pond. Over a period of 5 months, the entire water body was first dewatered of the polluted water, desilted to remove the deposited layers of polluted silt, with the simultaneous construction of a decentralised 100 KLD root bed system that was placed at the inlet to the pond. So that before the water reached the pond again, the wastewater would be treated through the decentralized treatment system. The root bed system is located in a strategic position that allowed the water to flow through the treatment system with gravity, and therefore no auxiliary equipment’s such as pumps were required for the system to be operated. The treated wastewater is now being released into the pond, with the treated wastewater being reused for irrigation purposes by the nearby farmlands. Currently, studies are being carried out by the GuruJal Team. Who are monitoring the water consumption patterns and changes in those patterns with the introduction of treated wastewater as a source of water in the community, especially in regard to water demand for irrigation.
The last and probably the most challenging part was landscaping the 0.5 acres of free land surrounding the pond. As aforementioned, the pond was situated in the Baba Syed Park and had community feelings attached to it. The site was also home to a religious building. Thus, the free land had to be revamped without hurting the sentiments of the locals living there. The team decided to landscape the free land catering to the needs of all age-groups – children, adults, and elderly members of the village.
A pavement was constructed, and tiles were laid with grass in between. The open ground on the left of the pond, once barren, now includes an herbal garden, a play area for kids, open gym, seating area under tree shade, and a small open kitchen for hosting events and community building. All the materials used for landscaping were made locally available within 30km of range.
Native plants such as sacred fig, jatropha and neem were planted in the herbal garden to promote growth of native species and create a naturally cooler environment. The garden also invites species of birds and butterflies such as Plain Tiger, Common Grass Yellow and Lime Butterflies.
After the project was completed, an Automatic Water Level Recorder that is based on a sensor system to measure the groundwater levels had been installed in the premises of the pond periphery. The AWLR has recorded since its installation on the 14th of February 2021, the water level has increased over 6 ft. or 2.5 meters in the driest seasons of February to June.
As per experts, the pond will recharge 15,300 kilo liters of fresh water per year, which is sufficient for 320 people for 365 days apart for many other co-benefits.
Along with water recharge, a decentralized wastewater system such as Mozabad pond also helps in maintaining the microclimates. Some of the known benefits of microclimates created by ponds include their impact on evaporative cooling and decreasing temperature of surrounding urban space. Taking the holistic approach to decentralised treatment and overall community development, the adjacent area near the pond that had previously been acting as the dumping ground for all the solid waste, was removed, and the area was landscaped with plantation of native species, and with the addition of elements such as Nakshatra Gardens, erecting a kid zone area, and various seating’s scattered across the area, to encourage the community to accept and understand the importance of their water body in the local community. Now, regular Jagratas take place near the pond site, and has now completely been transformed with the power of community.
Similar successes stories have been dotted around the district, with human lives being impacted and ecological restoration taking place through decentralised wastewater treatment. While it is hard to put a number on all the intangible benefits of treated wastewater as a resource, the estimated ground water conservation potential through the restoration and rejuvenation of these 72 ponds is approximately 1983 ML within a year, that would be able to serve a population of approximately 40,200 people in a year.