With so much rain, why water shortages, pray?

TANZANIANS in urban centres and rural areas of the sprawling country have for far too long been complaining of shortage – or lack of – clean and safe water supplies for domestic use: cooking, washing, drinking, etc.

This is to say nothing of adequate water supplies for irrigation farming – let alone water for domesticated animals and wildlife alike.

Lurid pictures of livestock and herbivore victims of predators dead from thirst on barren pasturelands and savannahs are not unknown... Yet, when ‘Nature-sent’ rain falls on Planet Earth this side of the ‘Heavens above,’ we tend to forget water shortage woes – albeit temporarily.

In some cases, hardhearted metropolitan dwellers curse the rains, lamenting that they fall in urban centres, instead of falling in farmlands for the good of cropsfarming... Also, rains should fall in the oceans from which the waters can evaporate ready for the next rain seasons.

Et cetera; et cetera. Rains should fall in water catchment areas and rivers as well, from where they can be tapped by urban water authorities and fed into pipes to consumers.

Otherwise – the hardhearted stress – rains have no business falling in built-up urban areas where they invariably play merry hell with, and wreak havoc upon, potholed streets whose drainage systems are usually blocked chockful with discarded plastic products...

Also, the rains should preferably not fall in metropolises where urban planning is haywire or non-existent for all practical purposes...

If and when town planning is haphazard, non-existent or unenforceable, squatter settlements become the order of the day... ... Consequent upon which the rains become a Heaven-sent opportunity for squatters to ‘release’ latrines and spill the overflow into the floods to be washed away to God knows where!

Never mind that squatters in valleys – like the infamous Msimbazi River Valley up and down the creek in the Jangwani area of Dar es Salaam metropolis – spend days and nights on the creaky roofs of their half-submerged dwellings waiting in hope and prayer for the rains to stop and the floods to subside, and resume their miserable existence as humans...

No wonder, then, that urbanites love to hate heavy rains. Yet, they’re usually the first in line to vociferously complain of water shortages. Little do they (seem to) know that there’s such a thing as rainwater harvesting...

Briefly, rainwater harvesting (RWH) ‘is a method of capturing, collecting and conserving surface/rooftop runoff rainwater for storage and later use – rather than just leaving it to evaporate, seep into the ground or simply run off to waste.

‘RWH is one of the simplest and oldest methods of self-supply of water for households where ‘ordinary’ water supply is problematic.

The water so-harvested can be applied to domestic use with proper treatment, livestock, and crop irrigation – or simply stored for use in the longer-term.

‘Besides, rainwater is free and eco-friendly – and properly utilizing it helps users to drastically cut utility costs,’ says author Anna Kučírková of the Czech Republic...’

[Just google for ‘Nature’s bounty: what you need to know about harvesting rainwater;’ ]. Indeed, rainwater harvesting has been in practice for centuries – and is increasingly assuming a greater proportion of importance as existing water sources are threatened by such hydraheaded monsters as the burgeoning climate change and gross misuse of the precious resource. Buy, what’s the simplest way of harvesting rainwater, pray?

According to the Neche (North Dakota)-based Enduraplas Group of Engineers in the United States, “harvesting systems for rainwater are plentiful. They can be as simple as installing a rain barrel at the bottom of a downspout, or as complicated as installing underground tanks with high-efficiency filters and pumps...” [].

Enduraplas names ‘five must-have’ components which are common to all types of rainwater harvesting systems: • Collection area: A roof is the first point of contact for rainfall.

The amount of water you harvest depends on your roof’s surface area.

• Conveyance system: actually, gutters and downspouts leading rainwater into a storage tank. • First flush diverter: When the first lot of rain hits the roof and runs into the gutters, the water often contains pollutants from the air and debris on the roof.

The first flush diverter includes a valve which flushes out the runoff from the first spell of rain to ensure the pollutants and debris doesn’t enter the system.

• Leaf screens: One must have the right filtration system in place –especially if one is harvesting potable water. Leaf screens are installed along the gutter, in the downspouts and at the entrance of the storage tank.

• Water storage tank: Storage systems may be above or below ground. Now that you know all this, go on out there and start harvesting the pounding rains...

Cheers! [israellyimo@gmail.com]

Author: Karl Lyimo

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