With the advent of deep borewells, the traditional open wells and shallow aquifers were forgotten. But the city has to look at these wells again for its survival and tap the traditional knowledge of water security and sustainability handed down over generations among the people of the Bhovi or Mannu Vaddar community. The community’s expertise in digging wells has been the lifeline of the city as seen in its contribution to constructing its lakes and kalyanis.
With the concept of consumption without conscience having taken precedence over sustainability for years, it is imperative now to go back to these traditional methods of managing water.
The city’s single largest solution to dealing with its water crisis was to rely on its groundwater and the constant extraction has resulted in the falling of the groundwater table and deterioration in its quality.
If the city is to avoid the catastrophic situation which Cape Town in South Africa finds itself in today, it must find means of recharging its groundwater immediately. The recharge well connects us to our open well heritage and acts as a powerful tool in managing the groundwater that is nobody’s private property and also represents the livelihoods of well diggers. Rather than opting for costly solutions like interlinking of rivers and transporting water over long distances the option of using traditional knowledge with the help of the Manu Vaddar community is the most economic.
The proof of this is at the Cubbon Park, at Rainbow Drive, and at the Wheel and Axle plant, among other places.
The writer is a convenor and co-founder, Friends of Lake...