An idea to recharge water pits with rainwater to tackle water shortage

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The pilot project by Anisha, Arjun and Iraj showed that a community with 10 households in Patan has been able to conserve water worth Rs. 1 lakh 70 thousand per year, which is a great thing considering the water shortage that we face every year. 

Anisha and Arjun, both from Environment background and the participants of UYC are working on developing a recharge system to replenish the water resources. 

Read on to know more about पुन:भरण, their project and how it will be helping the society!

1. Can you please give a brief introduction of your idea?
Anisha: We will be collecting and storing the surplus rainwater that is left after consumption. People in Nepal, especially inside the valley, face the problem of water scarcity during summers on one hand and overflow of water during the monsoons on other. So, to tackle this, the water that is collected from our courtyard terraces during the rainy seasons is reserved in storage tanks, surplus water of which is diverted  into the manmade recharge pit to replenish underground water tables. This results in water balance in our environment and of course,  availability in coming seasons.
Arjun: पुन:भरण basically means recharging. What happens is that when we need water, we generally face shortage but when not required there is excessive water which is wasted. So, our idea revolves around this concept. We store the excessive water and make it available during the time of shortage creating a balance. For this we will have a treatment imposed recharge system where the excessive water will be stored. 

2. Who will be your target market?
Arjun: Our project targets three major segments- household, institutions and local/ municipal bodies. These three segments may have differing demands. The individual households and institutions may harvest the rainwater for daily usage and they can recharge only the excess. Similarly, in case of local and municipal bodies, there may be a slight difference. They will be focused on recharging the storm water and maintaining the balance to make it available for the future use.
Basically, the households and the institutions will be only the point source of recharge whereas the local and municipal bodies will help us meet our vision and mission for creating water sustainability as we will be doing so on a large scale.  

3. Do you think the government will be supportive?
Arjun: In the past, everything was centralized so things took time. But now I personally think that things have become easier with decentralization. Managing drinking water, supply of drinking water and all are managed by local bodies now, so it wouldn’t be as tough as it was in the past to get their support. We did talk to 2 to 3 municipalities and they were quite positive with our idea.

4. What are challenges you might face?
Arjun: In the present scenario, I think the major challenge is the legal system. The laws are not clear on the replenishment of resources after their use which is one of the reasons why the public faces shortages but there is absence of well stated rules and regulations. So, that would be a barrier for our project.
Also, people tend to be hesitant of one time investment. When installing our system it will be costly initially but also from the experience from our pilot project we found out the Return on Investment would not be more than 3 years  and making people understand this would be another challenge that we may face because it may seem like one time huge investment but people are unaware how it could benefit shortly.
Anisha: Also, the result of our project is not immediate, it takes time because water has its own cycle, so making people understand this and encouraging them to use our system when there are a lot other alternatives like water jars, tanker water services, where the result is instantaneous would be a challenge. And yes like Arjun said people don’t think about long term, so changing that mindset won’t be easy.

5. What major social benefits will your project bring to society?
Anisha: Our system will be economically beneficial in the long run, that is one of the major benefits of our project to society. Similarly, water is a freely available natural resource, which means that all of us should be able to use it freely any time any where. But in reality we are actually paying for it no matter whether we get the water or not. So, if we are able to conserve and harvest the rainwater, which is considered to be the purer form of water,  then we can use it freely, which is another benefit.
And lastly the surplus which is recharged will flow to the nearby areas, that is by the movement of water underground , helping solve the water scarcity in a community as a whole.  So, these are the three major benefits from our project.  

6. How was your experience at UYC bootcamp and which session did you like the most?
Anisha: It was very motivating for me. I got an opportunity to know about 14 aspiring entrepreneurs who were equally innovative and encouraging. Similarly, all the trainers were really inspiring and knowledgeable. I had zero knowledge of the legal system so I found that particular session very productive. I learned a lot about the legal areas, more than I had expected. Also, Arjun and I are from science backgrounds so we have very little knowledge regarding business and the bootcamp helped us with that. So, it was really productive and really helped me with my confidence.
Arjun: The bootcamp was equally impactful for me too. I found the session on sustainability really important and meaningful for our project. Likewise, a session by Adhip was really inspiring, he mentioned how a small mishap and mismanagement can lead to a failure which I believe has made all of us more detail oriented. Like Anisha said we have very little knowledge  of the legal system, so I also found that session really useful. 

7. What additional session do you think can be added to make the bootcamp more effective?
Anisha: I think a session on pricing would be useful as most of us are not well aware in that area.
Arjun: Yes a session on pricing will be helpful. Likewise, a platform like a Facebook group to connect with the other participants will also be useful as it may lead to collaboration in future.

8. How has your business idea evolved post bootcamp?
Anisha: We are working out on our business idea, taking into consideration all the learning and insights from each session. The idea has remained the same but we are definitely re-planning how we will be moving forward with it.
Arjun: We are also working on making our team strong that will mutually benefit us and our potential team members. We have also been giving emphasis to the legal aspect of our business idea. Further we have been documenting all the processes.

To get more information about this idea, please connect with Anisha at anisha.green@gmail.com

Interviewed and Article by Trishna Shakya