Introduction

Background

There are 15 lakes in the Watershed 4C1C8H2a to 4C1C8H2h . Department of Minor Irrigation, Panchayats as well as the BBMP are the regulating authorities for each of these lakes. Some of these lakes are currently being rejuvenated. The institutions as well as local citizen groups are involved to different extents in the restoration works on these lakes. One of the main issues confronting lakes in Bangalore is to do with the water inflow - both in terms of quality and quantity (current as well as anticipated in the future). While the main channels bring rainwater to these lakes they also carry with them significant amounts of solid waste and sewage.

Over a period of time untreated sewage leads to the eutrophication of the lakes. The changes in the topography of the lake catchments (due to urban development) has also led to significant reduction in the runoff from upstream lakes thereby rendering the lakes dry. It is required that any proposed solution evaluates the role of each particular lake - as a wetland for treatment of waste water, structure for groundwater recharge, biodiversity enabler etc. Any solution that is adopted has to ensure appropriate water (in terms of quality and quantity) inlet to the lakes. The solutions lie in either redirecting the sewage to a drainage line which will in turn take this sewage to an STP and from where the treated sewage water will be discharged into a stream or lake further downstream or to treat the sewage and allow for it to enter the nearest water body.

The watershed of 35 sq. km in the Sarjapur- Bellandur area is devoid of any underground drainage network thus, working solutions would be seeking latter options of treating the sewage on the site (lake site) and allow it to enter the nearest water body. The project thus, focuses on evaluating each of the lakes in the watershed in its current form and evaluate the sewage treatment systems suitable for couple of lakes. The technologies in consideration include both conventional treatment systems and natural/bioremediation systems. With an intent to explore solutions to treat the incoming water before it enters the lake, we try to understand the parameters important in identifying a lake for restoration and then coming up with a suitable framework to evaluate the multiple technologies to facilitate bio remediation.

Government Engagement

Ensuring the sustainability of the project is more often than not the most difficult task in the overall project agenda. However, as they say, working within the existing institutional framework has its own advantages for sustainability of the project.In tandem with this thought, the project partners realized that throughout the project duration engagement with the concerned government agencies would be ensured. The plurality of law meant that there would be different agencies governing the groundwater-surface water space. The agencies engaged with include Central Groundwater Board (CGWB), Geological Society of India (GSI), Karnataka State Remote Sensing and Applications Center (KSRSAC), Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), Department of Mines and Geology (DMG), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BBMP), Lake Development Authority (LDA), etc.

The association with agencies involved general interaction about the governance structure, the laws governing this space, the data monitoring framework, collecting available information, etc. Moreover, the most significant involvement with such agencies is also to suggest and recommend the improvements in the existing framework for better management. The process is ongoing and you can read about previous interaction.
Citizen dialogue with KSPCB

Community engagement

It has been suggested through numerous studies that participatory approach allows multiple stakeholders to have a say which fits in the framework of democratic approach. It is observed that being a democratic approach there is high potential for successful outcome. An important beneficiary of the project is the community itself, which is struggling for managing the lakes, groundwater in the area. The community in the project context implies- resident welfare associations, house owners, local small businesses, local citizen groups, as well as the service providers like tanker owners, borewell agencies, camera inspection people, and the academia also. The basis of involving the community in the urban context emanated from studies supporting the importance of farmer involvement in rural areas. Taking a clue from rural groundwater management, where farmers, the local community is indeed knowledgeable about the groundwater, it was observed that the local community in urban area also has knowledge about it. The only difference is that the farmers in rural areas are replaced by borewell drillers, borewell drilling agencies, builders, house owners, and the community itself. The involvement with the community has been for different aspects; data collection, feedback on the progress, recommendations for further improvement, etc.