Tag Archives: Water

Plant them quick and soon

Plant them quick and soonIt was a rare outing for students of Government Higher Primary School at Kanminike to the south of Bangalore. Accompanied by five teachers, over 100 students walked into the Global Eco Club (GEC) farm on Mysore Road. They went around in a line, enjoying the fresh air on a sunny day. Some of them chased butterflies, while others curiously watched honeybees at work.

Finally, they assembled at a place where they were told that each of them could pick up a plant of their choice. Their faces lit up, as their eyes reached for their favourite ones. As they walked away with their favourite pick, after a refreshment of biscuits and water, Arun Kumar, who runs GEC, broke into a broad grin.

Nurturing love for the environment in young ones is one of the many activities of GEC, which is striving for a greener Bangalore. Arun gave up his eight-year franchise of Reliance Infocomm to pursue his passion. “I felt I should do something on the green front,” says Arun, who came up with the idea of Project Gandhadagudi to plant sandalwood saplings in educational institutions. He first approached the management of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and planted medicinal and sandalwood saplings on its sprawling campus.

“In one year, I planted over 2,000 saplings across Bangalore. PES University gave me a 20-acre land where I grew saplings of medicinal, fruit and flowering plants, besides vegetables,” says Arun. He was inspired by Salumarada Thimmakka [Thimmakka of the saal trees], the environmentalist who planted and tended to nearly 300 trees along a 4-km road in Magadi taluk of Ramanagaram district. “If you have the passion and idea to do some service, support will come your way,” he feels. “My policy is to sell and serve. Initially, I executed all works of GEC with my personal savings. Now I sell saplings to corporates, estates and other individuals to raise funds for initiatives like planting saplings in educational institutions and giving saplings for free to school students. My aim is a garden in every house of the city. I want to build a strong community to protect the environment,” he adds.

The farm is also a model of how rainwater can be properly utilized. It is sustained by just one borewell, which is recharged with rainwater collected in pits dug at four different spots. The farm, with around 20 fruit and several medicinal trees, has a separate section for indoor plants apart from special species to attract butterflies and bees. “I’m aiming to make Karnataka the fruit capital of India,” adds Arun, who helps out farmers in association with the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR). “GEC exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs action and support,” he signs off.

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Baroda gets a taste of ZED insights

Picture 156President – ZED Communities, B.S. Harikrishna made a presentation in late November in Baroda to a very discerning audience of architects, urban planners, and students of engineering and architecture. It was at an IGBC event in the once royal city of Vadodara.

He received a standing ovation. At the end of his presentation, Karan Grover, a well-known architect in practice from the town, who is also the chapter chairman for the city, picked up the mike in a moment of enthusiasm at the deep impact that the presentation had made and said, “I make a commitment to get Harikrishna to meet Modi, the Chief Minister.
Let me see how the government can help his company secure a land where they can demonstrate these ZED approaches to energy, water, and waste.” We haven’t yet heard from Karan or the Gujarat Govt. But let’s hope someday there’ll be the opportunity to push such frontiers.
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Are your plants getting the right amount of water?

watering-can-old-manTending to a garden is a liberating experience and lets you bring out the eco-philic side of you. Although looking after a garden is not rocket science, care must be given to all aspects to ensure your plants look healthy and fresh. One such aspect that is generally overlooked by most of us is watering the plants. Although it appears to be a simple activity, it is in fact one of the most misinterpreted, often with disastrous consequences for the plant. When understood and carried out properly, it is capable of significantly influencing the relationship with the garden.

So let’s start at the very beginning. While we say “we’re watering the plants”, we don’t water plants, we actually water the soil.

Yes, that’s right. Plants take in their required amount of water from the soil so watering the soil around the root zone (away from the stem) is most beneficial to the soil micro-organisms, and therefore the plant.

Equally critical is knowing that plants need moist soil rather than wet or submerged soil. Moist soil enables the water to break down necessary components in the soil into a small enough size to be absorbed through the plant’s root system. Over watering can lead to loss of nutrients and minerals and also decrease aeration.

Plants should be watered early in the morning and not late in the evening. Plant diseases are known to spread in wet, dark conditions and when we water in the late evening, water tends to stay on the leaves, making the plant more susceptible to catch mildew (a fungal disease). In daytime, if water does get on the leaves, it has a chance to dry out in the sunlight. Also, plants need water mainly during daylight to produce food, so watering early morning would ensure that they are able to carry out their activity.

Gardens are completely dependent on our watering and so it needs to be planned and regular. Erratic watering stresses the plants. Allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering is not a good idea and works only for specific plants. Most plants require consistently moist soil conditions.

How do you water plants?

For an urban home garden, there are several ways to water from the simple bucket and mug or rose-can (can with a shower-head nozzle) to the more planned drip irrigation mechanism.

Adopt a method that is best suited for you and one that does not waste water. As far as possible, try to harvest rainwater. Reuse grey water – i.e. water used for washing clothes or vessels for use in the garden. But remember this is only if we avoid synthetic detergents and use natural alternatives or other powders.

Mulched soil has greater water retention capacity and also provides nutrients. It is best suited for a garden. If you have a rooftop garden, ensure windbreaks to prevent uprooting of plants.

Paying attention to the health of the soil is the most important aspect of a plant’s health. Ensuring a well-proportioned mix of sand, red earth, compost and soil-building material (like cocopeat) is essential to make the soil loose, porous and to increase its water retention capacity.

The needs of each plant are different and so plan your gardening activity accordingly taking care of each plant to have a healthy and lively garden.

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WaterBangalore is largely dependent on groundwater. The largest source of water in Bangalore apart from Cauvery water is from borewells.

We are pulling water that has been down there for hundreds of years, that is somebody else’s right as much as it is ours. And the breach of this right can be clearly seen with unequal resource allocation.

How do we get Ground water?

We all live above spaces between soil particles and cracks, fissures and faults in the rocks, which are known as aquifers. Water in these aquifers is rainwater that has trickled down and percolated into the earth. The aquifers are spread independent of property or administrative boundaries. Each time we pull out water from the ground, we are possibly denying someone else of their source of water.

The geology of Bangalore, and most of the Deccan plateau, is hard-rock geology. This type of geological setting is composed of three layers- the top soil where the plants grow, the weathered zone below the top soil and the hard rock. The weathered zone is actually crushed version of the hard rock which holds water in the pores and spaces in between the particles.

When it rains and water percolates down, it passes through the weathered zone and then into the hard rock fissures. A large connected set of fissures, in effect one single body of water under the ground, is called an aquifer. Aquifers in the hard rock are called ‘confined aquifers’ as they are under pressure. Water in the weathered zone is shallow and is referred to as shallow unconfined aquifer and they can travel laterally into the soil. Open wells up to depths of around 80 feet in Bangalore were meant to access water in the shallow unconfined aquifers. Over time these have been dried out, except in certain parts of Bangalore. After open wells started drying, people started digging borewells which were going deeper and picking up water from the fissures in rocks – or from confined aquifers. It is important to note that confined aquifers take more time to recharge the unconfined aquifers.

It’s difficult to predict where you get water in deeper confined aquifers.  At depths of 100 to 650 feet, there are a lot of fissures through which water trickles in. There is no way to predict, other than testing each site.

When you dig a borewell and start pulling water out, you are emptying the water in the aquifers which is a finite amount. The process by which water enters into these fissures is called recharge. This can be natural or artificial. Since there is only a finite amount of water underneath, we cannot endlessly keep pumping out water.

As a city, we need to understand how much water is available. This is not an easy task. All the residents in an area need to share where they have dug the bore well, how deep did it go, at what depth did they get water, etc. The data collected across the city can help get a better picture of the city’s aquifers.

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The precious pitter-patter

rainboyWe are sensitive about sharing a river. We gregariously welcome home water-tankers. We are the lifestyle-conscious Bangaloreans, who understand the water problem of this ever-expanding city like never before. But are we being tunnel-visioned in meeting our immediate water requirements and not looking at the dire dry future?

Here’s a fact. The average water consumption of a Bangalorean per day is 140 litres. The overall supply of water from the Cauvery as well as ground water sources to the city is at 1023 million litres/day (MLD). The total demand for water in Bangalore is 1342 MLD. That means 319 MLD less than the requirement or over 22 lakh people without their average quota of water.

The sudden realization is that you are one among the two million and that’s not a small number to get out of. So, how do we tackle this?

Here’s another fact. Despite a regulation from the governing authorities to set-up rainwater harvesting systems, many Bangaloreans are still ignorant about it.

We may not have abundant ground-water, but we have good god-sent monsoons. Let’s collect the rain. It’s a simple solution to a serious problem. Just like the lesson we taught the kids to put a bucket under a leaking tap; a lesson to save water and to replenish it. The rainwater harvesting system is a one-time set-up that may cost around Rs.40K for a 60X40 site/house. On a rainy day, this would accumulate 54K litres! You can save a part of this and let the rest to percolate and replenish the ground-water. This, against the cost of water-tankers at Rs.3000 for a month, is very economical. Plus, it consumes no electricity. What’s more? A water-sustained future for you and the city.

Rain rain, come again. People here are in vain.

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ZED-Personal Filter

Filter‘Water water everywhere not a drop to drink’, but what if we give you a mobile personal water filter to instantly filter water on the go from virtually any water source? That is exactly what the revolutionary ZED Personal Water filter is all about. It filters 700 liters of water, enough for one person for one year. Removes 99% of bacteria, protozoan parasites, filters particles of approximately 0.2 microns. Plus, this filtration doesn’t even require chemicals, electrical power, batteries or replacement parts. The only maintenance involved is a simple hose-wash of the filter once every 700 liters.Want to know more? Email us at zed@zed.in

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ZED-Magic Water

ZED-Magic Water

Water from air?! The US army first got it in war-time Iraq as Saddam’s forces poisoned wells on the retreat. It’s a system like any water dispenser. It’s dinky and takes little as space.  “It’s a combination of a dryer, a pressure cooker and a chiller, all three mechanisms imbibed into one,’ says Dinesh, who designed it. In coastal towns like Chennai, Mumbai or Kochi, when humidity is over 80%, it offers 32 liters as it converts moisture into water. In dry cities like Bangalore, Ahmedabad or Hyderabad, it offers up to 22-24 liters for every 12 hours. It uses a mere 200 watts on a 5 amp socket, saves you 85% energy and at least Rs.250 a month. The catch is that it costs up to 50,000. But can money buy clean, pure, potable water drawn from the skies?
Want to know more? Email us at zed@zed.in

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Power & water crisis-I: Get your home in order, will you?

Wind turbines (Vendsyssel, Denmark, 2004)

Image via Wikipedia

This is a four-part series titled ‘Get your home in order, will you?’ If we stopped fretting over what the government has not done on energy and water, and sort some things at home, more than half the solution will spring before us.

Part 1

The power scene at home

Have you looked at your energy bill recently? What is the amount you pay every month for power? For water? Have you asked yourself what the break up of power used in your house is? Do you realize how much of the power bill is coming out of use of your geysers? How much is consumed by fans, your lighting, your TV set, the grinder and mixer in the kitchen, or worse that electric oven that your mother gifted you on your last birthday? How much of the power is used in your kitchen by the refrigerator, the heating plate, and such other appliances that didn’t even exist 30 years ago? Continue reading

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Drumsticks don’t just make for great taste in cooking…

Drumstick grows widely in India. The potential somehow remains unrealized of using the seed to clarify water.

Just two of a drumstick’s seeds can clean a liter of turbid water. Its beans and twigs are almost magical. You can extract oil, provide nutrition when you eat and when you can serve as a useful medicine.

The seeds have an inherent ability to purify water. The dried beans when ground to a powder, work as natural flocculation agents.

Flocculation is the first step in water purification and the plant’s seeds provide an alternative to alum, iron salts, and even synthetic polymers. These chemicals harm both environment and health. Alum salts have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

A drumstick seeds is an efficient coagulating agent when extracted. In parts of Botswana, water purification has been done with the seeds for many centuries.

It’s not as if the government is not aware of its potential. The department of drinking water supply in India compiled a two-volume compendium of rural water supply and sanitation research projects. One of the sanitation studies tested the efficacy of drumstick seeds as a purification agent in a Tamil Nadu village some years ago. Three villages along the River Bhavani were selected as they were drinking the river’s low-quality water.

Drumstick seed power significantly reduces water turbidity and bacterial count.

It’s not a complete solution, however. It cannot guarantee potable water and some additional treatment will be needed. But the important thing is that it reduces turbidity of water with bacterial reduction of above 90 per cent.

Before doing it at a village tank, a simple jar test can be conducted with seed powder with 100, 200, and 400 mg per liter of water. The jar should be stirred vigorously for a minute, followed by a gentle steering. The sample is allowed to settle for 60 minutes. The lowest and best clarification dose is chosen by the village health workers.

The government is not willing to accept it yet. It remains a viable local low-cost alternative, but outside of the government’s schemes.

(Pic source: food1.com)

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