Strategy to Revitalize Urban Water Bodies: Case of Semi-arid Gujarat, India Strategy to Revitalize Urban Water Bodies: Case of Semi-arid Gujarat, India

Parth Shah, Parth Shah
2005 unpublished
Preface "One does not need elaborate criteria, cunning measurements, or probing analysis, to recognise raw shortage of water and to understand its antecedents. But the issue of water shortages are not so simple in their relationships nor are they transparent in their dealings. When it comes to causation and exploration of solutions, it is rather easy to get lost into academic and scientific exercises that contribute little to the amelioration or alleviation of the conditions of those deprived
more » ... of those deprived of even enough drinking water". Amartya Sen, 1981 Lack of fresh water is a naked fact for the people of the arid and semi-arid region. Many of the aspects of water supply and irrigation remain clouded by statistics, bureaucracy and other constructions. This work in no way boasts of finding all the answers, though it's a humble gesture in order to understand the water system as it exists today. In its small way, it tries to provide a ray of hope towards water self sufficiency. Citizens of Rajkot, Gujarat queue up for their drinking water supply. Abstract Rapid urbanisation coupled with industrial growth has made its adverse impacts on the physical quality of life in the city and on the natural environment. Natural patterns are distorted by human intervention to the extent that their inter-relationships are destroyed. The balance between resource consumption and generation is skewed. This has resulted in depletion and pollution of natural recourses. In terms of effect to the water system, the result is drying up of natural water bodies at alarming rates; flooding during the monsoon and rapidly declining water table. The study proposes a hypothesis, that by conserving local water body all of these three urban problems could be addressed simultaneously and effectively. The rainfall regime in semi arid regions of western India is one of abundance during the rainy season, however sporadic that is, and severe water scarcity during the hot summer months. Most of the cities in western India have large number of water bodies-some big enough to retain water through the year, others small village tanks, essentially the low areas that get water during the monsoon and are typically dry in the summer. As a part of an urban system, they are important urban open spaces, in the midst of dense city fabric. As the city expands, it engulfs the surrounding areas, thereby transforming the natural streams into urban streams. However, often roads block these natural streams thus severing the lakes from its natural catchment and in turn transport the runoff. From the point of view of water harvesting, this very valuable asset should not be wasted. Rather than adopting the approach of removing the runoff as quickly as possible from developed areas, the potential of capturing this water should be looked into. This can help reduce the water demands if not completely mitigate it. The study takes a case of a water body and a part of the city of Ahmedabad presently under the process of planned expansion by the so called Town Planning Schemes (TPS) and analyses it in a framework based on the notion that conserving/reviving the lake will eventually help mitigate the water needs of the region. TPS are the administrative units of urban design; any change to be brought about in the city can be effected better through the modification in the designing process of the TPS. The Rational Method of runoff estimation was used. Using GIS, runoff volume from each urban block was calculated to estimate the total water harvesting potential of the TPS. This was balanced against the water demands of fulfilling the lake and the household demands for cooking and drinking. From the results it was found that there is a distinct possibility to fill the lakes from rainfall runoff. This can help mitigate the problems of water logging during the monsoon. Using the surplus runoff for artificial recharge would help arrest the falling water tables. Thus, not only is there enough rainfall in the area to revive the water bodies but also to fulfil the drinking and cooking water needs of the people.