The delayed monsoon that has already pushed the rainfall deficiency for the month of June in the country to 45 per cent, underlines the need to undertake rainwater harvesting measures to meet the needs of the State during the dry summer months.
There are reports that the monsoon this year may not meet the average levels. Reports state that the deficiency could increase especially due to the sluggish pace of the monsoon and a weak El-Nino, that is associated with the heating of the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Added to this is the warning of a cyclone in the Arabian Sea that could further reduce the speed of the progress of the monsoon, that has already broken over Kerala.
Goa has not escaped the delayed monsoon arrival. After a brief spell of pre-monsoon showers that wet the dry earth, the onset of rains doesn’t appear to be near. According to data on the IMD website, Goa is facing a -146.1mm deficit rainfall. This has affected the water levels in the reservoirs in the State, and despite the government assuring that there is enough water to meets the needs of the people, this is a matter of concern. A week ago the water level at the Opa treatment plant had dropped. Earlier Selaulim had also seen a dip in its water levels. In May all the bandharas storing water for Opa had been opened to maintain a sufficient level of water, and water had even been drawn from mining pits by pumps to meet the needs.
Reports of water shortages in the State have been trickling in since the beginning of summer. They have increased in frequency in recent weeks, leading to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant assuring that there is enough water in the reservoirs and that there is no need to panic.
The demand for water is increasing, mainly due to the rising number of residential complex, population, industries and construction. The State will have to make it mandatory that mega residential complexes, industries have water harvesting measures in place, before licences are given. Currently the State offers susbisides to individual houses and residential complexes that have rainwater harvesting measures. The subsidies are an incentive, what is required will be rules that make it mandatory for the people to do water harvesting. In this regard, the State’s decision to write to the Centre for approval to convert mining pits into rainwater harvesting sites, is welcome. So is the decision to construct check dams on the rivers to increase the water reserves?
Rainwater harvesting is merely a question of redirecting rainwater into the ground, so as to recharge the ground water. Goa gets an average of 100 inches of rain in the four months of June to September. Much of this water flows into the sea. Harvesting this is merely collecting and storing the rainwater, preventing the loss of water through evaporation and seepage, and more technically aimed measures to conserve water. The water can be used either directly or recharged in the ground water level. Efforts made in the past towards rainwater harvesting have been sporadic and have not shown results.
The decisions taken by the government have, however, come on the verge of the monsoon hitting the State. It indicates the lack of planning, as had the same decisions been taken earlier, the departments concerned with the works could have prepared for the check dams in advance. As people, we are just not water wise and tuned in to saving water. The copious amount of rain that drenches the parched land is allowed to flow into the sea, without any efforts being made to store it for the future. Rainwater harvesting is a viable option for Goa as long as it is taken seriously.