One manifestation of Bangalore’s growth is sprawling horizontal expansion and the rising popularity of self-contained residential communities of various sizes and complexities. The public utility is unable to keep pace with the rising demand for water and sanitation infrastructure in these new communities, and it has become increasingly common for residents to assume total management control of their own water and sanitation services through their Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs).
Rainbow Drive (RBD) is a private, gated residential layout that is representative of an increasingly common land-use pattern in growing cities like Bangalore. Like many other private layouts, RBD is situated outside the reach of the city’s water utility, and its residents were left to fend for their own water needs after the inevitable departure of the developer. RBD’s Plot Owners’ Association (POA) responded to these tasks with longer-term sustainability in mind, rather than adopting reactive coping strategies.
The principal challenge RWAs face is ensuring their water security. Bangalore has very limited surface water options, and therefore groundwater exploitation has become the primary source for homes without piped connection. Groundwater dependence has drawn down the city’s water tables, and many borewells have gone dry. Residential communities across the city find themselves with no choice but to purchase from unregulated and expensive private water trucks to meet their basic needs. In this context, the importance of a resource management paradigm, rather than an augmentation paradigm, cannot be overstated.
Rainbow Drive is one such Bangalore community experiencing water supply insecurity. The layout of about 200 households had used up water from four of its six borewells and was entirely dependent on the remaining two, whose output, was diminishing. Faced with the unsavory prospect of becoming dependent on buying from water trucks, Rainbow Drive residents instead attempted to directly address the problem through an integrated urban water management approach (IUWM). The approach tries to achieve sustainability by balancing consumer demand with the necessity of replenishing supply.
Biome Environmental is a Bangalore-based firm focused on ecology, architecture and water. Created by the 2008 merger of Chitra K. Vishwanath Architects and Rainwater Club, Biome’s diverse team includes designers, architects, civil and mechanical engineers and urban planners. Biome specializes on architectural design, environmental and site planning, water sustainability solutions and training and education.