a) Background - Village ponds or Pokhars, as they are called in Rajasthan, are the lifeline of every village. However, over the years, a lot of these ponds have become highly polluted and their water is either turning black due to unregulated sewage dumping from the village or they are suffering from other forms of water contamination such as infestation of cyano-bacteria, algal bloom, water hyacinth etc. It is a miracle of nature that the contaminated water of the pond becomes fit for drinking once it percolates down from the pond as it undergoes automatic filtration, and it can then be extracted using wells or hand pumps that are mostly situated right next to the pond. However, some remnants of the impurities of the pond still remain and exist as contaminants in the water drawn from such wells. In fact, in our tests, we found that the coliform levels in wells and hand pumps situated next to village ponds and used for drinking water, were sometimes as high as 9000 MPN per 100 ml. This problem is all the more acute in areas where ground water is saline and villagers depend on wells and hand pumps located next to the pond as primary sources of fresh water.
b) Aims & Objectives - The aim of these trials was to examine the condition of village ponds in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, and study the effect of application of Nualgi, a nanotechnology based solution for water de-contamination, in these ponds.
c) Importance -- The scale of the problem and the importance of the proposed solution cannot be overstated. The success of the solution would have enormous impact on health indicators, environmental rejuvenation, waste management, recreational benefits, livestock yield, fisheries, and employment generation.
2. Method --
Being an officer of Indian Administrative Service, I used the govt machinery to run all the tests and test all the results. I chose three of our most contaminated ponds to conduct the trials and collected water samples before and after the trials at periodic intervals. The tests were designed to study whether this solution can help rid the ponds of their green algal covering and restore their health. Further, the wells and hand pumps situated adjacent to the pond were also examined to see their contamination levels, and to check if the solution has an impact, if any, on such drinking water sources.
3. Results & Discussion --
The lab results from one of the ponds are shared below:
a) Turbidity - It has been reduced from 34 on 22.1.14 to absolutely clear on 5.2.14 and 25.2.14.
b) Coliform Level - The initial coliform level in the pond was 11000 MPN/100 ml. In the well situated adjacent to the pond, this figure stood at 2400, whereas the hand pump located next to the pond recorded a figure of 460. After two doses on 5.2.14, the coliform level in this well dropped to 23, while it became nil for the hand pump. On the last test conducted on 25.2.14, the coliform level in both the well as the hand pump showed a reading of 23.
4. Conclusion --
a) Water became fit for drinking - The results of the trials were quite encouraging. The most important result has been that the contamination levels (as measured through Coliform bacteria levels) have come down drastically, and in one case (Hand pump adjacent to pond), they have been eliminated completely. This is of immense significance as it indicates that the water which was hitherto unfit for drinking, is now fit to be used for drinking. Furthermore, the application of the solution led to removal of algal covering and turbidity of pond's water, and the livestock of the village started drinking water from the ponds again.
b) Immediacy of Results & Behavioural Change - The solution provided immediate results and the improvement in coliform levels were recorded a mere 10 days after the application of solution. This is significant to induce behavioural change in the villagers, as when they see that their pond has been transformed, that its green covering has been removed and livestock have started drinking its water again, it becomes easier to break the old mould and convince them about the need to modify their behaviour and adopt better waste management practices.
c) Building a Revenue Model - A revenue model has also been suggested to make the application of the nanotechnology solution viable by pooling in resources from the government sector as well as private entrepreneurs (such as leaseholders of fishing rights) that stand to gain from the application of the technology.
Therefore, the paper presents a novel approach to rejuvenation of village ponds by using proven technology and seeks to weave it within a financial model that promises to be largely self-sustaining.