Murli Mohan Sharma opted out.
Standing in his private water reservoir—the quality doesn’t seem to need any certification— is a man who doesn’t have to wake up at odd hours when the municipality supplies water. He doesn’t need to deepen his borewell every year.
His tryst with water independence began in 1995, when supply to his house in Hyderabad’s Hastinapur locality was erratic, meagre. He drew from a 55-metre-deep borewell—failing borewells are common here due to the hard basalt underneath.
His family is from Rajasthan, which has the richest water harvesting traditions. He knew freedom from the vagaries of municipal supply is possible.
He began by tapping rainwater on his roof, storing it in an underground sump. His reliance on the borewell decreased and stopped entirely in 2003.
A family of three, the Sharmas need 300-350 litres of water each day. Rainwater meets all household needs like drinking, cooking and washing.
The municipal water supply is now used only for gardening and flushing toilets.
COMMON SENSE IN ACTION
Sharma has designed his water supply and storage system himself.
The water for drinking is filtered through a simple filtering system.
Rainwater from the roof is led into one outlet. From here, a PVC pipe takes it to a filtration tank. This tank has three vertical mesh filters. It is half filled with gravel three-quarters of an inch in size.
A four-inch PVC pipe is fixed through the wall of the tank at its highest level of storage. Beyond this, water comes out through this overflow pipe. The house will never get flooded.
The filtered water goes to an underground sump of 100,000 litres. He initially planned for 60,000 litres only, but decided on a bigger capacity to use years of good rainfall.
The roof can harvest about 105,000 litres in an average year.
The rainwater from the tank is pumped to a small overhead tank for use in the kitchen and toilets.
Sunlight needs to be blocked to keep out algae. Sharma’s tank does that. This prevents breeding of mosquitoes. The roof is always kept clean. Before the monsoon, the tank is emptied once for cleaning and repairs. Filters are cleaned once a year. A stairway from the storeroom goes down to the tank.
The cost of the system: Rs. 41,000 in 1995.