The government can identify various locations where a number of reservoirs can be built not only for drinking purposes but also for irrigation and recreation
Rainwater harvesting can be one of the best options to conserve water and maintain environment and ecosystem in a mountainous country like Nepal.
Nepal receives about 1500 mm rainfall throughout the year and more than 80 percent of it takes place during monsoon for four months beginning June to September. However, we have not been able to tap the monsoon rains which can be used for drinking and irrigation purposes during dry season.
With the access to piped drinking water even in rural and hilly areas over the years people have forgotten a traditional method of collecting water for drinking and irrigation by making small ponds at convenient locations of all villages.
Such ponds would serve the basic needs of the communities when there was no provision of piped water supported by the government and other agencies. Making ponds above villages was the best practice of collecting rainwater for its use in the future.
However the people in Tinpiple and Dapcha, the two remote villages of Kavre district, had been suffering from acute shortage of water even for drinking purposes. All the springs located around the villages had dried up due to overuse of the scarce resource.
The locals had to climb down a long distance to collect a bucket of water. Now, the locals with support from Nepal Water Conservation Foundation (NWCF) have built a number of ‘recharge ponds’ to revive the springs lost long ago.
After such recharge ponds were constructed the dried springs have been revived helping the locals use them for drinking and even for irrigation purposes. The villages now have their own water resources that have made their life easier.
A study conducted by NWCF showed that about one-third of the total 244 springs there had already dried up over the years for want of conservation.
These are just two instances how water can be conserved and springs revived with collective efforts of the communities. This approach can be replicated in other parts of the country, including the Kathmandu Valley, where water scarcity is very alarming.
This has been felt even more in hilly areas after the last year’s devastating earthquake that has led to the depletion of water level. Even the Melamchi Drinking Water Project which will bring in 170 mld to the Valley will not be able to meet the daily requirement after 2025/30 as per the projection.
Then the government will have to find other options to meet the water demand in the capital. One of the viable options to meet ever growing demand of water in the Valley is to harvest rainwater from foothills of the surrounding Valley.
The government can identify various locations where a number of reservoirs can be built not only for drinking purposes but also for irrigation and recreation.
The water so collected will not only help maintain the ground water level of the Valley but also help conserve forestry, environment and biodiversity as well as help revive the river system in the Valley.
It will be cost effective as all municipalities can be involved in the water management project. It is high time that the Valley learned lessons from Tinpiple and Dapcha.
Survey of lakes
It is a right decision that the government is going to conduct geophysical investigation of major glacial lakes in the country.
The threats of outbursts of glacial lakes are real and the government has been warned time and again by experts that any outburst of glacial lake would pose serious environmental and other problems.
Not long ago, the outburst-threatened Imja Lake in Solukhumbu had been drained by 3.5 metres, thus saving downstream villages from the floods that would otherwise have occurred.
The country’s glacial lakes not only add to its beauty but promote the environment and serve the needs of people and wildlife. They are great pullers of tourists, too.
The results of such examination of the glacial lakes will provide inputs for their conservation and for the adoption of other beneficial measures. Climate change has caused a number of changes to happen, and Nepal is ranked the fourth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change.
Among the 1,466 glacial lakes identified in Nepal, 21 are labelled as potentially dangerous, and six of them have been put at high risk. In this context, the geological investigation is expected to prove fruitful.
A version of this article appears in print on December 20, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.