Vikas Pawar, a student of Class X, was so impressed by the Wise Water Management efforts being implemented in his Madhya Pradesh school by Unicef that he made it part of a science project.
He built a cardboard and plaster model showing how water could be conserved and recycled effectively to avoid a shortage. His Government Scheduled Caste Residential School is in Katara Hills near Bhopal, capital of the state which sees acute water shortage in summer.
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'There are two ways by which water is being conserved in my school hostel. One is by collecting rain water during the monsoons in a Ferro Cement tank with a 50,000 litre capacity,' he explained. 'Collected rain water can be used for drinking and cooking purposes during the summer months when there is a shortage of water. 'The other method is by recycling grey water for flushing toilets,' Pawar said.
'Grey water' is that which has been used once for bathing and washing clothes. On an average, a student in the school hostel uses 30 litre of water per day in the bathroom. This water could be reused for toilet flushing and kitchen gardening. The school has 209 residential students.
'Used water from bathrooms is passed through a sponge filter,' said Nagmati Malviya, a Class XII student, pointing to a large pipe emerging from the outer wall of the bathrooms.
'Materials like plastic sachets of shampoo, soap wrappers get filtered as the water passes through this filter. The water is guided into a reservoir which is divided into five sedimentation tanks.'
Suspended particles are settled in the first tank before the water is passed on to the adjoining segment and subsequently gets filtered while passing through the various chambers.
The second, third and fourth tanks have boulders of different sizes. As water passes in an up-flow, down-flow current through the filters, it leaves behind all perceptible impurities. Filtered water then flows down a series of 'aeration steps' that resemble a flight of stairs.
'The purpose of running the water in the open is to bring it in contact with oxygen from the atmosphere to reduce the odour of filtered greywater if any,' Nagmati said, giving a demonstration.
'The fifth tank collects the filtered water which is pumped by a motor to the tank placed on the roof of the hostel from where it goes to the cistern in the toilets and the remaining water is used for kitchen gardening.'
To combat the shortage of drinking water during summer, the school collects rain water from July to September every year.
'The school being located on a hill, there is acute water shortage during summers. The soil is rocky and the water level is far below,' said Mamta Ahirwar, scout training teacher. 'During the monsoons, all the water would flow down the hill slope and was wasted.'
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But for the last one year, this school collects rain water, stores it in a reservoir with 50,000 litre capacity. The water is filtered, treated and then used for drinking and cooking.
The Wise Water Management (WWM) concept was developed by Unicef, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and Public Health Engineering Department, government of Madhya Pradesh. It was demonstrated in eight tribal residential schools of Dhar and Jhabua districts of Madhya Pradesh.
The WWM scheme was also demonstrated in two scheduled caste residential schools in Bhopal. The department of Tribal Welfare in Madhya Pradesh is now replicating this model in 400 tribal residential schools across the state.
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'This will improve the quality of life for children and also have a positive effect on the environment. This is just a beginning. I hope this model will be replicated across the state for the benefit of all children and families of Madhya Pradesh,' says Tania Goldner, chief of Unicef field office for Madhya Pradesh.'