Wetlands For A Sustainable Urban Future : Text from Face Book post by Vishwanath Srikantaiah on occasion of World Wetlands Day 2018.
Much grief, energy and monies can be saved if we imagine our ‘tanks’ as wetlands rather than water bodies in the city of Bengaluru.
World wetlands day is celebrated on the 2nd of February every year. For this year 2018 the theme is “Wetlands for a sustainable urban future”.
A simple definition for a wetland is that it is an area that tends to be saturated with water either permanently or seasonally and harbours a distinct type set of plants. Wetlands behave differently from a water body like a lake and need to be managed, if at all, completely differently.
Wetlands harbour bio-diversity much more than only water, have the ability to absorb pollutants and nutrients better, can manage floods, recharge groundwater, moderate temperature and area huge asset for a city.
In the city of Bengaluru itself the Karnataka State Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has sent a proposal to the central government that 176 tanks within the city be declared as wetlands. This would potentially protect these tanks better from encroachment and solid waste dumping as well as the construction of roads within.
The polluted stretches of the Vrishabhavati and the Dakshina Pinakini could also be brought under wetlands protection.
Wetlands, in combination with waste-water treatment plants, are a good way of reviving the tanks in the city. The example of Jakkur and Rachenahalli are possible starting points for an integrated approach to manage water in the city with wetlands playing an important role. Here waste-water treated to secondary standards are then allowed in to the wetlands which remove nitrates and reduce Total Suspended Solids, thus allowing for it to fill the water body. In turn , the lakes allow for fishing and recharge the surrounding aquifers.
Wetlands provide for a range of services including livelihoods for the poorer sections of society. Even now a range of fodder collectors pick up grass and alligator weed ( called Hongonney in Kannada ) for feeding their cattle almost all across the city.
Remedied waste-water from the city can be further treated in the wetlands and used for agricultural purpose. The proposal and project to transfer treated waste-water to the districts of Kolar and Chikballapur can also benefit substantially if wetlands are integrated in to the design at the first receiving tanks. This would also enhance flora and faunal biodiversity in the tanks of these drought prone rural districts at the same time benefiting agriculture there.
Integrating wetlands into the master plan and the urban fabric of cities is the need of the hour and that would be water wisdom.