How To Teach Your Child About Rainwater Harvesting

The rainy season is here. So, why not turn it into an opportunity for your child to learn something new? Here are ways you can teach him about rainwater harvesting.

By Leena Ghosh

How To Teach Your Child About Rainwater Harvesting

Before science and technology took over water conservation and irrigation, humans depended on natural resources like rivers, lakes and rainwater to serve their daily needs. Saving and using rainwater for daily domestic purposes was a popular method of water conservation. From the havelis of Jabalpur, the khadins of Rajasthan to the eris of Tamil Nadu, the system of preserving rainwater has been in practice for many decades.

With water pollution levels rising at an alarming rate and the depletion of fresh drinking water resources being a major concern, many countries across the world have turned to the science of rainwater harvesting. In the book ‘Rainwater harvesting: the collection of rainfall and runoff in rural areas’, by Pacey A and Cullis A, the authors define rainwater harvesting as ‘the gathering and storage of water running off surfaces on which rain has directly fallen’.

As parents, it’s our duty to teach our children about the importance of rains in India and why we need to save rainwater and reuse it. And what better season to teach rainwater harvesting to your child than the monsoon!

But, before you teach your child how to harvest rainwater, it’s important to tell him about its significance and how saving this important resource can help him, his family and the neighbourhood. Some of the benefits of rainwater harvesting are as follows: 

Benefits of rainwater harvesting

  • It is a free resource
  • It is environment-friendly
  • It is a great back-up resource when faced with a water crisis
  • It is a comparatively cleaner source of drinking water
  • The technology used to harvest rainwater is not expensive and maintaining it is also easy
  • It helps reduce surface water contamination by preventing rainwater run-off that pollute lakes, ponds and rivers
  • It recharges the groundwater levels
  • It reduces the risk of flood and top soil erosion

How to teach your child about rainwater harvesting

This process includes three essential steps. They are:

1. Collection of rainwater

Rainwater harvesting, as a concept, is thousands of years old and has been practised by people across the world. With the world facing water crisis now, more attention is being paid to this traditional method of conserving water.

How to teach: Rainwater can be collected for individual homes as well as for the larger community. Take the help of your child to install a rain barrel at your home. You can do so by placing a large drum outside your house and connect it with pipes to the roof or to the verandah of your house. To prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in the barrel, fasten a lid tightly on top of it. Another way of collecting rainwater is to simply place big buckets or a child’s swimming pool in the garden, verandah or the roof of your house. However, make sure you treat and use the water immediately, so it doesn’t become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

2. Treatment and storage of rainwater

While rainwater is one of the most important sources of freshwater, it can’t be used for consumption directly. The water that you collect may contain debris, metals and even chemical or microbiological contamination. So, it’s essential that the water is treated before it is used for domestic consumption. You can store the treated rainwater in barrels or sumps.

How to teach: Before you teach your child how to treat rainwater, make sure she observes it and is not involved in filtering or treating the water. There are a couple of recommended ways to treat rainwater. They are as follows:

  • Boiling: This is the best way to kill pathogens. Filter the water using a strainer or a porous cloth and then bring the water to a boil. Let it cool down completely before you use it for washing vessels, watering the plants or washing any equipment.
  • Treating it with chlorine or iodine: Another way of disinfecting rainwater is to add chlorine or iodine to it. But, these chemicals don’t necessarily eliminate all pathogens. While iodine is considered to be a better disinfectant than chlorine, the use of iodine-treated water is not recommended for more than a few months at a time. Also, pregnant women and those suffering from conditions like thyroid should refrain from using water that has been treated using iodine. Make sure this water is not used for personal consumption like drinking or bathing.
  • Using commercial water filters: Water filters that have RO (Reverse Osmosis) or UV (Ultraviolet) systems installed in them are very effective for treating rainwater. Carbon filtration is also a recommended method of filtration as it removes chlorine and other volatile organic substances.

3. Reusing of rainwater

Now that the rainwater has been collected and treated, you can use it for various household purposes.

How to teach: Teach your child the importance of conservation of water by using rainwater for the following at home:

  • Watering plants
  • Flushing toilets
  • Washing vessels
  • Washing cars and equipment
  • Composting

This monsoon season, teach your child that every drop counts. Tell him how by being a proactive individual he can help save natural resources and Mother Earth as well. 

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