Second Batch of Training Programmes on Urban Rainwater Harvesting and Decentralised Wastewater Treatment including Recycle and Reuse, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Mr. Dinesh Gunawardane, Honorable Minister for Water Supply and Drainage, Sri Lanka speaking on the closing day of the workshop

The second batch of training programmes on “Urban Rainwater Harvesting” and “Decentralised Wastewater Treatment inluding Recycle and Reuse” were organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage (MWS&D), Sri Lanka and Colombo based NGO, Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum (LRWHF). Each training programme was for two days - Urban Rainwater Harvesting (held on December 6-7, 2011) and Decentralised Wastewater Treatment  inluding Recycle and Reuse (held on December 8-9, 2011) at Colombo.

The training programmes are part of activities conducted under a tripartite agreement signed between CSE, MWS&D and LRWHF in August 2010 to facilitate the establishment of a Rain Centre in Sri Lanka and promote sustainable water management practices in Sri Lanka.

To encourage rainwater harvesting in Sri Lanka, a policy on rainwater harvesting was formulated in 2005, this was followed by inclusion of provisions for rainwater harvesting in the building bye-laws. In spite of such initiatives, there has not been much implementation of rainwater harvesting in the country. The sewage disposal system and the treatment facilities are also not sufficient to tackle the wastewater generated. The wetlands and other water bodies in Sri Lanka also face the threats of encroachment and pollution from rapid urbanisation.

Speaking on the closing of the workshop, Mr. Dinesh Gunawardane, Honorable Minister for Water Supply and Drainage, Sri Lanka talked about the usefulness of rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycle and reuse in the urban areas for sustainability of the water resources in Sri Lanka. He emphasized the need for scaling up implementation of model projects in the water stressed areas of Sri Lanka in a time bound manner. The Honourable minister also emphasised on the health hazards caused by the groundwater contamination in some water stressed areas of Sri Lanka. Mr. A. Abeygunasekara, Secretary, MWS&D, Sri Lanka discussed the issues and challenges faced by the water stressed areas of the country.

Dr. Suresh Rohilla, Programme Director, Urban Water Management CSE, focussed on the strict enforcement of laws related to rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycle and reuse. He suggested implementation of few model projects in the country to show case these systems.

The focus of these trainings is to impart skills to Sri Lankan government officials in implementation of urban rain water harvesting systems and decentralised waste water treatment including recycle and reuse. Both the training programmes were attended by over 28 Sri Lankan government officials from different parts of the country.