What Rainwater Harvesting is? – Prospects and Challenges

What Rainwater Harvesting is? – Prospects and Challenges

Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of rainwater in the natural resources artificially designed to prevent water runoff. It also means fulfilling the lack of water in the future. One section of the society also asks – What Rainwater Harvesting is?

It is dependent on several factors-

  1. Frequency of rainfall
  2. The quantity of rainfall
  3. The way of collecting rainwater
  4. Size of resource to collect water 

Two ways of Rain water harvesting Methods-

  • Collecting rainwater to the surface for future use:   Collecting rainwater to the surface is a very effective and traditional technique. It can be done using small ponds, underground tanks, dams, weirs, etc. (For Rainwater Harvesting Tank See above image)
  • Recharging groundwater: However, the groundwater recharging technique is a new concept of harvesting. It can be done using dug wells, pits, hand pumps, recharge wells, recharge shafts, recharge lateral shafts with bore wells, spreading technique. The spreading technique broadly means the spread of water to the stream, Nala, etc. 

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  1. Helps in bringing up the groundwater water level
  2. It helps in maintaining the ecological flow of water. Which avoids any kind of disaster.
  3. It reduces soil erosion, stormwater runoff, flooding, and pollution of surface water with fertilizers, pesticides, metals, and other sediments.
  4. It is an excellent source of water for landscape irrigation with no chemicals and dissolved salts and fees from all minerals.
  5. The stored water can be used for irrigation practices in the farming region.
  6. The water can be used for daily use and help in reducing water bills in the towns and cities.
  7. It is a helpful way to tackle the scarcity of water in arid and dry regions.

Disadvantages of Rainwater Harvesting

  1. Regular Maintenance is required
  2. Requires some technical skills to install
  3. Limited and no rainfall can limit the supply of Rainwater
  4. If not installed correctly, it may attract mosquitoes and other waterborne diseases.
  5. One of the significant drawbacks of the rainwater harvesting system is storage limits

In Bangalore, the adoption of rainwater harvesting is mandatory for every owner or the occupier of a building with some floor area conditions.

Gradually conditions are improving as proper methods of conserving and harvesting rainwater is followed. But this has to be practiced nationwide to protect our country from the brink of desertification. The revival of the river has transformed the ecology of the place and consequently, of the people living there. If such efforts by the people are supplemented by proper plans and implementation by the government, water shortage in India can be sorted out.

Groundwater Recharge – The first step to be Taken

Of the total water on earth, only 3% constitutes freshwater. The rest is saline water in the oceans. 11% of the total freshwater on earth is groundwater available up to a depth of 800m which can be extracted for use.

Reasons for Depletion

  • Increased demand for water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs and limited surface water resources lead to the over-exploitation of groundwater resources.
  • There are limited storage facilities owing to the hard rock terrain, along with the added disadvantage of lack of rainfall, especially in central Indian states.
  • Green Revolution enabled water-intensive crops to be grown in drought-prone/ water deficit regions, leading to over-extraction of groundwater.
  • Frequent pumping of water from the ground without waiting for its replenishment leads to quick depletion.
  • Subsidies on electricity and high MSP for water-intensive crops is also leading reasons for deletion.
  • Water contamination as in the case of pollution by landfills, septic tanks, leaky underground gas tanks, and from overuse of fertilizers and pesticides leads to damage and depletion of groundwater resources.
  • Inadequate regulation of groundwater laws encourages the exhaustion of groundwater resources without any penalty.
  • Deforestation, unscientific methods of agriculture, chemical effluents from industries, lack of sanitation also lead to pollution of groundwater, making it unusable.


  • There should be restrictions to cut off the access to groundwater in areas identified as “critical” and “dark zones”, where the water table is overused or very low.
  • There is a need to treat water as a common resource rather than private property to prevent its overexploitation
  • Problems and issues such as waterlogging, salinity, agricultural toxins, and industrial effluents, all need to be properly looked into.
  • Research and scientific evaluations should be done before forming any policy.
  • Water depletion can be controlled by reducing electricity subsidies.
  • Another way of efficiently using groundwater is by encouraging farmers to adopt micro-irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers. The government has initiated schemes like the DRIP program, more drop per crop, Krishi Sinchai Yojana to ensure economical water use practices in agriculture.
  • Bottom-up approach by empowering the local community to become active participants in managing groundwater.
  • Creating regulatory options at the community level such as panchayat is also one of the feasible solutions.
  • Traditional methods of water conservation should be encouraged to minimize the depletion of water resources.
  • Technology should be used extensively for determining the relationship between surface hydrological units and hydrological units below the ground, identification of groundwater recharge areas, mapping of groundwater, etc.
  • Artificial recharge of tube wells, water reuse, afforestation, scientific methods of agriculture should also be done.
  • Imparting key hydrogeological skills to nonprofits and rural practitioners to improve decentralized water management in India.

The effective answer to the freshwater crisis is to integrate conservation and development activities – from water extraction to water management – at the local level; making communities aware and involving them fully is, therefore, critical for success.

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