Walking out of my room, slinging my camera over my shoulder, my eyes were greeted with a riot of flaming magenta and red bougainvillea, flowering just outside the front door of my cottage, in The Serai, Bandipur.
It was a dry fresh 7a.m. filled with liquid birdsong, as I walked along a path with Manjunath BS the Maintenance Engineer and Imran Ali Khan, naturalist of The Serai Bandipur resort. Fresh water is a precious commodity here as it is in the scrub region of the jungle. Jungle Babblers and Bulbuls in their hundreds, made their noisy presence felt, and as I brushed past the bamboo leaves drops of dew wet my arms and blouse.
“Look at the deep trench that we have dug along the path,” said Manjunath.“We have to conserve every drop of rainwater that falls here as the hills beyond, prevent the clouds from bringing us liberal quantities of rain. These trenches carry the rain water to ponds and percolation pits which are 10 feet by 20 feet and which are used to recharge our 18 bore-wells.”
The base of the pit if filled with a layer of sand and jelly through which the rain water percolates and then goes down to recharge the bore-wells. “We spend 10 to 15 thousand on each pit but we can conserve over 40 thousand litres of water with recharging the pits. Above the sand and jelly we put a layer of leaves and small branches just to prevent the water from getting evaporated,” he says.
“Without rain water harvesting most of our bore-wells went dry,” said Imran ,“that is because we are 902 metres above sea level and so our bore-wells go dry even at depths of a 1000 metres. RWH helps to recharge these bore-wells and the channels and trenches help to guide this water run off directly to where it should percolate down into the soil.”
“Our resort is spread over 18 acres and we don’t want a drop of the precious rain water to go out of it. So you can see the channels and trenches criss -cross the property and carry the water via pipes under the paths to where it is collected in pits.”
The Serai group is very organised and keep a log of the rainwater which has been harvested at the property over the last four years. They require 22 thousand litres per day when the resort is at full occupancy. They even channelise the grey water of baths and kitchens to a Sewage treatment plant, before the treated water, is used to water the garden and the trees.