Karnataka: Bangalore-Making rain water harvesting mandatory

BANGALORE: The city recorded above-average rainfall in September. Yet, much of the water went down the drain or flooded low-lying areas. It’s been the same story almost every year. Rain water harvesting could have made such a big difference.

The November 1 ultimatum to start on mandatory rain water harvesting for new buildings is not the first. Building bye laws of 2004 had also made it mandatory but they weren’t implemented. The big question is: What’s taking a simple concept so many amendments, regulations and deadlines to implement? Till date, less than 3,000 houses in the city harvest rain water.

Most low-lying areas in the city that constitute 20% of the total area don’t prefer RWH as they fear floods. Interestingly, there is good response to ground water recharging but not to rain water harvesting, explain BWSSB officials. And, space constraints and lack of awareness deters others. Curiously, a few people feel that RWH could result in excess stock of water.

The recent amendment of the BWSSB Act that’s made rain water harvesting mandatory for new and bigger old buildings could bring about a change. Provided, citizens understand the law, get the system installed and also trained in handling it.


The outlines and specifications of the structure is available in the revised law currently posted on the BWSSB website. However, Avinash Krishnamurthy, a member of the Rainwater Club, feels people need professional help to design a system complying with the law. They also need trained plumbers and masons as well as money to invest in the structure. Some plumbers and masons well versed in this are listed on the BWSSB website. However, the number of houses needing these services will be huge once implementation starts. More plumbers need to be trained at a mass level. There also has to be a strong campaign to get people excited about the policy.


Currently, the city’s water demand is around 1500 MLD. The supply from Cauvery, Hesaraghatta and TG Halli is around 900 MLD. The Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal has also given a physical limit to how much Bangalore can access from Cauvery. On the other hand, rain water if captured can generate water equivalent to 3000 MLD, almost double the current demand. It can also reduce the massive problem of flooding in Bangalore to a great extent, say experts.


Depending on design, orientation and catchment area of the house, you could pay between Rs 8,000 and Rs 75,000 to set up the system.


Every owner or occupier who has constructed a building on a 2,400 sqft site and above for residential / non-residential/ government / commercial and any other purposes has to provide rain water harvesting structures within nine months from date of commencement of the amendment Act 2009. The area specified for new buildings is 1,200 sqft.


If you don’t have an RWH unit, your water and sanitary connections could be cut. However, there are rewards for installing one. After an assessment by the BWSSB in January 2010, five houses will be selected and rewarded Rs 10,000 each.


A recent public meeting in R T Nagar on RWH was quite helpful. We got most of our doubts cleared. Many of us plan to get into harvesting soon. More such awareness campaigns must be held. People wanting to go ahead should be guided.

T Vidyadhar, president, tri-ward federation of RWA


One Response to Karnataka: Bangalore-Making rain water harvesting mandatory

  1. Making rainwater harvesting systems a requirement is a good idea. I think it will not only help the communities that enforce it but it will aslo help bring awreness to other local communities and cities. Rain water harvesting systems are so benifitial but many people don’t even know about them and how much they can save by using them.

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