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Sunday , 26th September 2021

Restoration and rejuvenation of water bodies

Section: Rainwater Harvesting pages are not under access control

Tanks and water bodies form important surface water storage. The existing ponds and tanks available in the Urban Local Bodies have been silted over the years and thereby make the water bodies less functional for recharge. Under this restoration project, the water bodies will be de-silted, inlet and outlet will be cleaned from obstruction and the bunds will be strengthened. A recharge well or shaft within water bodies may be taken up wherever necessary depending upon the geological nature of terrain.

Apart from available rainwater and reuse of treated wastewater, waterbodies (lakes, ponds) especially in urban areas have enormous value in terms of resource provision (for drinking or irrigation), regulating services (climate mediation, flood and drought management) and cultural service (religious, historic value). However, these lakes and ponds are extremely sensitive to environmental stress caused by anthropogenic activities in the basin or catchment, which reduces the natural capacity of the waterbody to restore itself and results in its deterioration.

The Benefits of rejuvenating the Water bodies

  • Comprehensive improvement and restoration of water bodies thereby increasing tank storage capacity.
  • Groundwater recharge.
  • Increased availability of drinking water.
  • Improvement in catchment areas of tank commands.
  • Environmental benefits through improved water use efficiency by promotion of conjunctive use of surface and groundwater.
  • Community participation and self-supporting system for sustainable management for each water body.
  • Capacity building of communities, in better water management.
  • Development of tourism, cultural activities etc.,

Selection of water body

  • ULBs may undertake census of lakes/ponds and prepare a complete list of water bodies along with unique code in the first stage.
  • All public and community owned water bodies may be taken up.
  • Priority should be given to the water bodies which having minimum water spread area from 2 hectare to 10 hectares.
  • Details of present status of the water bodies ie., in use/partially used/not in use with reasons for deterioration.
  • Rainfall during last ten years, groundwater level, land use pattern, soil characteristics, climate conditions, availability of water in the catchment area for channelization into water body, water quality situation in the water body and adjoining areas.
  • Creation of storm water storage ponds in the flow accumulation points

Activities to be taken up/Methods

  • Removal of encroachments in the water body boundary/spread area.
  • In situ measures of water body cleaning such as de-silting, de-weeding, bioremediation, aeration, bio-manipulation or any other successfully tested eco-technologies suitable to the local condition, may be applied.
  • Strengthening of bund, fencing/re-fencing of water bodies.
  • The inlet and outlet of the water body should be identified and need to be monitored at a frequent interval. Any obstruction in the inlet and outlet should be recorded and be removed.
  • Catchment area treatment like afforestation, storm water drainage management, silt traps, etc., may be undertaken.
  • Any outfall of domestic/industrial sewage into the water body should be prevented and only treated effluent, as per effluent standard of the state pollution control board, may be allowed to dispose into the water bodies.
  • Trees may be planted along the sides of the water bodies to create bird habitation and maintain natural flora and fauna.
  • Wetland plantations may be created near the inlet to further filter water naturally as soon as it enters into the water body/lake.
  • The existing legal standards for the STP should be maintained by the ULBs.
  • A walking track may be constructed around the water body to increase public awareness.
  • Land around the lake and at a certain distance from its shore-perimeter should be declared as eco-sensitive area and dumping of any solid waste into these areas should be made a punishable offence. For collection of solid waste, collection-bins need to be placed around the Water Body and regular cleaning of solid waste should be undertaken.
  • The water quality of the Water Body needs to be monitored on weekly basis by the concerned ULB. If any parameters are found to be beyond the limit of designated use, proper action should be taken up to maintain the quality of lake water.
  • Impose a ban on uses of ‘potable water’ for purposes other than drinking and introduce a new workable system to restrict use of potable water for drinking only. Uses of water for all other remaining purposes, to the extent feasible and not detrimental to human health and wellbeing, has to be made available through re-cycling and re-use process and should be augmented in a big way to meet existing/growing needs of urban clusters.
  • Most Lakes receive storm-water during monsoon season to meet annual requirement of water in their bed; the first flush brings in incalculable organic load and silt in to the lake, which are most hazardous and alter their water chemistry beyond easy solutions. Such storm water loads must be arrested prior to entry points by using bio-approach like creation of a ‘sedimentation basin’ at space prior to entry point, or at the entry-point or around.
  • To create awareness among people, notice boards should be displayed in the surrounding areas of the lake, informing Do’s and Don’ts, etc.
  • If the water body is highly degraded and cannot put into its traditional use primarily because of discharge of domestic and industrial waste water into the lake, dumping of municipal solid waste, flow of heavy silt loads from the catchment, the conservation of water body should ensure that the water quality after implementation is restored to the bathing quality as given by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shall be the target for lake water quality. (Table-1)
  • After implementation, regular monitoring at an interval of five years, to maintain the water bodies involving planting and weed control.
  • A separate tank may be built for religious/cultural festivities that require immersion into t waterbody. Ex. Ganesh Chaturthi.

Existing Acts/Rules

The Lakes & Wetlands are presently not covered by any specific legal statute but several legislations enacted till date have relevance & provisions for conservation of lakes. Some of these are:

The ‘Forest Conservation Act’ 1980, ‘The Wildlife Act’ 1972, ‘The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act’ 1974, and ‘the Environment (Protection) Act’ 1986. Besides these, some of the States have individual State level legislations for protection & conservation of their lakes & water bodies. ‘The National Environment Policy’ (NEP) 2006 also seeks for setting up of a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism for lakes & wetlands to prevent their degradation and enhance their conservation. Till any specific regulatory framework for lakes & wetlands is formulated, the Lake Conservation may be covered under the provisions of existing Central and State Legislations are as under:

  • ‘The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act’ 1974 as amended deals comprehensively with water issues. It empowers the Government to maintain the wholesomeness of National Water Bodies. The Act also provides for prohibition on use of stream (includes inland water whether natural & artificial) or well for disposal of polluting matter etc. It enables the Government through Central & State Pollution Control Boards to prescribe standards and has provisions for monitoring & compliance and penal provisions against the violators of the Act.
  • ‘The Environment (Protection) Act’ 1986 defines the power of the Central Government to take measures to protect and improve environment which includes water, air and land and the inter relationship which exists among and between water, air and land and human beings, other living creatures, plants, microorganisms and property.
  • ‘The National Environment Policy’ (NEP), 2006, recognises the ecological services rendered by the water bodies like lakes & wetlands. The NEP states that wetlands including lakes are under threat from drainage and conversion for agriculture & human settlements besides pollution. The reduction in economic value of their environmental services due to pollution, as well as the health costs of the pollution itself, are not taken into account while using them as a waste dump. The NEP identifies an Action Plan for these water bodies which importantly include formulation of conservation & prudent use strategies, integration of wetland and lake conservation into sectoral development plans for poverty alleviation and livelihood improvement, formulation of eco-tourismstrategies prove multi stakeholders partnership and above all setting up of a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism for these water bodies.