Workshop on Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Ms Shivani, Senior Research Associate, Urban Water programme was invited as a resource person for the 3 days workshop on 'Rainwater Harvesting Systems' organised by the Royal School of Architecture (R.S.A), Royal Global University (R.G.U), Guwahati, Assam to represent Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The organising faculty members are alumni of the advanced residential training on the Planning and Designing of Rainwater Harvesting Systems, conducted by CSE on February 10 - 12, 2021 at Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI), Nimli, Rajasthan.

The workshop aimed to sensitise young professionals to the need and potential of rainwater harvesting systems (RWHs) and impart knowledge, skills, and attitude required for planning and designing RWHs at an individual, neighbourhood, and institutional/ individual scale. A total of 45 architecture (B.Arch – 2nd, 4th & 6th semester, R.S.A) and planning (MURP – 2nd & 4th semester and Faculties, Guwahati College of Architecture (G.C.A)) students attended the workshop.

Ms Shivani was involved with the coordinators in overall planning and conducting the workshop for all three days with several lectures and also helped them develop multiple group exercises for the students.

Day 1 of the workshop at RSA Campus started on June 22, 2022, focussing on understanding the key issues and challenges faced in the urban water management sector in Indian cities. Ms Shivani briefly introduced CSE, its ideals, core principles, and its role in the water sector. Also, she provided the context for the training programme, by highlighting the issues in urban water management. With this, the session intended to establish the need for rainwater harvesting in India while motivating the students to 'catch water where it falls'. The workshop focussed on learning from ancient wisdom. The students were engaged in exercises like memory mapping and documenting traditional rainwater and flood management structures in different regions of the country.

On Day 2 (June 23, 2022), the sessions began with a quick reflection session on the previous day's learnings and how they fed into the upcoming sessions. Day 2 focused on enhancing knowledge and acquiring holistic perspectives toward Rainwater Harvesting concepts. The basic concept & terms used in RWH, its need in the Indian scenario, and its components were introduced. Ms Shivani discussed the design considerations for RWH, stormwater harvesting in open spaces, and SUDS and how they can blend within the landscape and aesthetics of urban built form. Also, the data requirements, their sources, and the analysis to infer from were deliberated on. A discussion on 'Operation, Maintenance, and Monitoring of RWH systems' along with a brief on the stakeholders involved and the role of the community in implementing RWH systems was followed. The session was supported by showcasing various case examples from India. The day concluded with a campus tour of RGU where students in groups mapped the issues related to drainage and waterlogging within the campus. The DIY exercise was also introduced to the students at the end of the day.

Day 3 (June 24, 2022) was initiated with an insightful session by Mr Akshay Agrawal (Also an alumnus of our residential training on DWWTs), 7-star Water Solutions, an entrepreneur based in Guwahati. Mr Agrawal has been awarded the title of 'Water Warrior' by the Ministry of Jal Shakti for installing 1000+ RWH structures across Assam. The rest of the day was allocated for the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) exercise on Planning and Designing RWH systems at different scales, landuses, and city contexts. Participants were divided into four groups and were provided with datasets. Participants were very enthusiastic and worked very hard on the group exercise. The DIY exercise was continued by the participants' final presentations on the conceptual RWH system plan. The participants were provided 5 minutes to present and 2 minutes for Q&As. The participants were scored based on the methodology adopted, design strategies, applicability, and presentation style of their presentations. All the groups did a fantastic job, given their allotted time. The jurors appreciated the presentations, and it was observed that a perspective for water-sensitive planning and designing of RWH and SUDS was developing in the participants.

The day concluded with the winner group announcement, certificate distribution, feedback, and vote of thanks.

On a personal note,on behalf of CSE, it was a great experience to see such enthusiastic young architects and planners eager to explore the dimensions of sustainable water management practices and planning.