How to use rainwater harvesting to combat water scarcity in India

World Environment Day is on 5th June. This article discusses the concept of rainwater harvesting, which can go a long way to help towards storing of one of the elements precious to the environment, namely water. You will get information on how to install a rainwater harvesting system, its costs in India and its benefits.


As we all know, global warming and depletion of ground water levels has led to an acute shortage of water in India (& other parts of the world). This has created problems for both humans and the environment. Even in major town and cities, the burgeoning population is creating a serious pressure on the existing water resources. Everybody simply depends on the monsoon for filling up the natural reservoirs which supply the water to the town and cities. In order to reduce this dependency and utilize the existing water resources sensibly, it is imperative to start looking for solutions to dealing with water scarcity in our country. One of these solutions is to install and maintain a rainwater harvesting system, known as RWH in short.

Rainwater harvesting features

How is rainwater harvesting done?

Rainwater harvesting is a very simple method of storing rainwater which falls on the roofs of structures. Instead of letting this rainwater flow away into drains, it is collected and stored in a collection tank. The tank is connected to a pipeline (or taps are attached) which then recycles the water for non-potable use.

See the picture below (taken at an exhibition in Mumbai, Maharashtra). It shows the water from the roof flowing through a pipe into a large container. The water in this storage container can then be re-used - the water being removed from it via a tap into a bucket placed below it.
Rainwater harvesting system

As you can see, it is a very simple system!

In fact, why not look beyond roofs? Think of the sloping driveways which lead up to the entrance of posh homes and hotels. The rainwater falling on such & other sloping areas can also be captured instead of accumulating at the bottom of the slope and flowing away into a drainage system. There are also owners of farms who create small man-made lakes through the collection of rain water during the annual monsoon season.

What is the water from rainwater harvesting used for?

As mentioned earlier, water collected and stored through RWH can be used for non-potable purposes. This includes: use in the bathroom/toilet, irrigation systems, watering plants, washing vehicles, etc.

What are the benefits?

The primary advantage of rainwater harvesting is, of course, having a source of water supply in addition to the existing sources. Secondly, rainwater harvesting can conserve the environment's surface water as well as improve the existing level of ground water. The thirst of the environment is thus quenched and living beings too benefit.

What are the disadvantages?

As such there is no disadvantage to rain water harvesting. The disadvantage lies in installing the system in terms of space. You do need proper space to install a collection tank to capture the rainwater. Problems can also arise if it is not managed properly. When people get together to install the rainwater harvesting system to get additional water supply, they need to have an efficient person in charge. This person should ensure that required papers are in order to submit to the local municipality authorities for getting permission to install the RWH. If there is a lot of dithering about taking decisions to install it and for applying for the permission, the installation cannot take place in time before the monsoon season sets in.

What is the cost of rainwater harvesting in India?

Offhand one cannot say what would be the exact cost of installing a RWH because it depends mainly on the location and the catchment area. Approximately, though, it could start at a little less than Rs. 3lakh and go up to Rs.5lakh or even more. Remember, though, that even though the installation cost can be high, it is a great long term investment because the maintenance costs are very low.


We can all do our bit collectively and save the precious element of Mother Nature, namely water, by being proactive. Anywhere in India, by installing the RWH not just in places where we stay, but also at our work places, we can take concrete steps towards this goal.

The problem is in the lack of awareness about rain water harvesting. Most of us think it is too difficult to implement and too expensive. What we don't realise is that by buying large bottles of drinking water and paying lakhs to hire water tankers, we are actually spending far more! By contrast, if we consider the long term benefits of rainwater harvesting, we will be creating a buffer against water scarcity – and thereby securing our own future. After all, without water can we survive?

So let's make the World Environment Day (5th June) more meaningful than just a date on a calendar by taking the initiative to save water, one of the many steps we can take towards saving the environment. In fact, this should not be the only day to save water. Make it part of your daily routine and help conserve earth's water resources.

Article by Vandana
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.

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Author: dipak08 Jun 2013 Member Level: Silver   Points : 2

Life without water is impossible and so we can say that water is life and among total water 1% of water is suitable for drinking and it is very huge amount, but today humans are wasting water and that may affect human life. Thus, safe water safe life.

Author: Sarojha15 Jun 2013 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

Yes this is good article on rain water harvesting. In Tamil Nadu in acute drought, the government has insisted each and every building to have a rain water harvesting system which proves to be a good store of ground water but as time goes, the scheme got vanished. But every individual should feel that it is our first priority to save water which is going as a real waste and this system is proved its worthiness.

Author: Dhananjeyan04 Jul 2013 Member Level: Gold   Points : 4

The scarcity of water is one of the major concerns in the present scenario. Many people just make rain water harvesting platform in fake manner to escape from government laws. Many organization and even in many Television advertisements the importance has been stressed but none changed the minds of people. I accept a handful of builders do it sincerely and perfectly, but it cannot be a solution to the entire scenario. The seed must be sowed in the mind of people to enlighten them about the use of rain water harvesting.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao31 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 1

Good article about rain water harvesting. In this article a method of collecting water and using for non drinking purposes is described. It is good. Another way is to make a percolation tank at the low level of the ground and diverting all rain water into that pit will make the ground water level to increase. When there is a huge land, make way for the water to flow to low lying area from all the areas and make a very big pit like a lake. Water will stagnate there for more time slowly get absorbed by earth and ground water level will increase. This we have tried in a factory and found very good improvement in the ground water level and the next summer we never felt any water shortage in that factory.

Author: K Mohan05 Jun 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 0

The author made the right submission at the right time as the Monsoon are about to start across the country and those who have not dug up the rain harvesting pit, they must give a thought to do that and those who already has the harvesting pit, little maintenance has to be done to see that rain water makes good penetration into the pit. Nevertheless over the years there was great awareness among the public on the importance of rain water harvesting and most of them are benefited as this summer their borewell was functioning even during peak time and that was due to rain water harvesting.

Author: T.M.Sankaran17 Jan 2018 Member Level: Gold   Points : 10

Though the article had appeared four years back, I missed it, somehow. However, I think a simple method for rainwater harvesting widely used here may be brought to notice. It is almost the same but we can make it ourselves. If it is a terraced house rainwater falls on the terrace and through a pipe, this goes out to fall on earth. Instead, a tank can be fitted in between allowing to collect this water. At the lowest part of the tank, an outlet will be there to collect the water through a pipe for household uses.
However, the tank will be filled with granite metal (gravel), charcoal and sand as layers. The top layer will be gravel (10 cm), next 10 cm charcoal, next 25 cm sand and last 25 cm gravel. Water passes through these layers and gets cleaned. Rainwater may be stored after allowing the first or second rain to wash the terrace. After that the water can be directed through the filter system. This water can be used for all purposes except for direct drinking.

In places where the water falling on the terrace is more, that is for a large-sized terrace, the water can be collected after filtering in a large underground tank, made of fiber cement tank.

In addition, other filtering systems have been developed by different agencies.

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