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Nature-based solutions for waterbody rejuvenation: a perspective on holistic & sustainable approaches

Mahadevapura Lake in Bangalore, India: One of the first lakes rejuvenated through CDD Society's Nature Based Solutions approach. A BORDA-built DEWATS treats 1m m3/day of wastewater flowing into the lake.

Guest contribution from BORDA partner CDD Society (August 2019)

Waterbodies have always been the backbone of resource sustainability in any urban area. Today, they are in a state of abject decline around the world. Solid waste dumping, industrial pollution, sewage pollution, encroachments, commercial fish farming and other practices have contributed significantly to the decline. Urbanization and industrialization have increased the intensity of pollution to such an extent that waterbodies’ self-healing capacities are no longer enough to counter these multiple onslaughts. Flood mitigation, groundwater recharge, biodiversity enhancement, industrial development and water security are just a few of the benefits that waterbodies provide to a city. It is time their role is properly evaluated in the urban economy and effective actions are initiated for their rejuvenation.

Fixing the problem at its source is about helping citizens make the connection between their well-being and the health of the waterbodies that serve them. Intermediate relief approaches give people a glimpse of what well-being can look and feel like.

The Government of India has recognized the importance of waterbodies and has already been pushing the rejuvenation agenda through its various policies and programmes including the 2013 National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) and the 2018 Wetland Rules. Recently, the AMRUT and SMART CITIES programmes have integrated waterbody rejuvenation as a critical aspect in planning. Water body rejuvenation has also been recognized as one of the main agenda items of JAL SHAKTI, under the water vision of the newly appointed Government in 2019.

At CDD Society, we have attempted to build on our legacy of decentralized wastewater treatment solutions (DEWATS) to come up with Nature Based Solutions (NBS) for rejuvenating waterbodies. In doing so, we have taken a holistic approach that looks at the multiple facets of a waterbody: as a water storage and recharge structure in preserving and enhancing water resources and thereby enhancing water security; as a cleanser through its ability to remove carbon and nutrients from polluted waters in a sustainable way; as a buffer in flood management; as support for life (biodiversity) and livelihoods (economy); and last but not least, as a glorious public space and religious site. To realize these benefits in the long run, stakeholder participation throughout the rejuvenation process is key to success.

A new knowledge document published in July 2019 by CDD Society with support from BORDA attempts to unpack such an approach and provide deeper insight into these perspectives. “Approach to Waterbody Rejuvenation – A Perspective” suggests frameworks and methodologies that can be used to come up with holistic and sustainable solutions integrating the relevant technical, social, environmental & institutional aspects of waterbody rejuvenation.

CDD Society, through this document, aims to bridge the knowledge gap and empower and enhance the understanding of those working in this field. We aim to publish updated versions as our own experience in this domain continues to grow.

Public health and environmental health are intricately linked – nothing signifies a healthy environment better than a waterbody full of life.

Cover of the knowledge document: "Approach to Waterbody Rejuvenation - A Perspective" (click to view larger)

Building on its legacy of decentralized wastewater treatment solutions, BORDA partner CDD Society is developing nature-based solutions for rejuvenating waterbodies – available in a new knowledge document “Approach to Waterbody Rejuvenation – A Perspective” (July 2019)

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