Innovative Water Conservation Practices in India


Author: Shikha Shah

In our previous post Water Conservation Methods in India we showcased some of the best traditional water conservation techniques, in this post we have covered some of the innovative water conservation practices. Let’s have a look at the list of some modern innovative water conservation techniques that have been developed in India in recent times.

Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting

Water Conservation - Roof Top Rain waterHarvesting System
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All of us who directly consume water are the most important stakeholders in managing water. While many of us urbanites use or waste a lot of water, we rarely make an effort to conserve it. Fortunately, the rainwater harvesting method has provided a solution that can be practiced easily in every household. It is a simple model where the roof acting as a catchment for rainfall, which after flowing through a series of filters and pipes is stored in ground-level containers for direct use or recharged into ground water. Given below is a simple formula to calculate the water that can be collected from your rooftop.

Tech Specs Table

Rain water harvested (in cubic meter) = roof area (square meter)*average annual rainfall (mm)*runoff coefficient

Type of CatchmentRunoff Coefficient
Roof top0.75 – 0.95
Paved Area0.50 – 0.85
Bare Ground 0.10 – 0.20
Green Area0.05 – 0.10
So, an area of 1,000 square feet with 1 inch of rainfall is estimated to yield 550 gallons of water. For an existing building, the cost of water harvesting systems can range from INR10,000 to INR30,000. Designs have been formulated for both pucca and kutcha houses to make it a household activity. In a running model, the stored water has been widely used for irrigation, domestic usage as well as animals. D&D Ecotech services, Jalprapat drillers, water harvesters and Nirmal Jal are some of the reliable service providers of this technology. For new buildings (with more than 100 sq meter area), rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory by few state governments like Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, etc.

Ferro-cement Tanks

Water Conservation - Roof Water Conservation - Construction of Ferro Tank
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This is a low cost alternative for expensive water harvesting containers made of masonry, plastic and RCC. It has proved highly effective in high rainfall regions where large amount of water need to stored in clean form. These tanks requiring materials like sand, cement, mild steel bar and galvanized iron wire mesh, can be easily constructed by semi skilled labours. It’s light in weight and can be moulded into any shape required. It is believed to last for around 25 years with little maintenance. Picture above shows a ferro-cement tank under construction. It can be appropriate for use in Indian villages and disaster prone areas as its fireproof and tough in build.

Cycle Run Water Pumps

Water Conservation - Bike Water Pump
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A saver of time and cost of electricity and fuel, this technology utilizes human power generated by pedalling a bicycle to lift water from streams, ponds, canals and wells. When cycle is pedalled, it creates an up and down motion of pistons which pressurizes water flow to outlet. A portable model which can be installed on site has also been developed. Designed for small scale farmers who don’t have capacity to afford costly diesel rum motors, this arrangement can bring a flow of 100 litres per minute. The complete unit made of cast iron and aluminium costs from rupees 2500 to 7000. These pumps have also supported women, kids and old people who at times found operating hand pumps in bend position a strenuous task. Some models have replaced bicycle by steppers (commonly seen if gyms), making pumping water a healthy and fun activity. In India, it was conceptualized by poor farmer from a village of West Bengal, Nasiruddin Gayen in 1980s. Xylam water solutions, a Vadodra based company is also designing and selling this innovation. If made applicable in urban areas, this concept can do wonders in making people realize importance of water and lose some calories too.

Joy Pumps

Water Conservation - Joy Pumps
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Ever imagined filling up an overhead tank by kids playing around? This innovation was designed to mitigate water scarcity problems in villages with no clean surface water source, no electricity and poor monetary capacity. Attached below a merry-go-round wheel or a see-saw, is an arrangement similar to a conventional hand pump. As children ride on these wheels, groundwater is drawn and tank (around 8-10 meters above ground) is filled. It can also be used to pump water from bore wells and large storage tankers. It can be installed even at far off places and has easy maintenance. It’s basically a community structure and can be set up in schools, parks, villages and relief camps. It has been used in developing countries like India and Africa. Span pumps pvt limited, a Pune based company is designing such pumps in India.

Rain Water Syringe

Water Conservation - Rain Water Syringe
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Most of the open wells and tube wells in coastal areas contain salty water due to seepage of sea water. Rainwater harvesting is a viable option for solving the issue of drinking water, but construction of rainwater overhead tanks is unaffordable for marginal farmers. Antoji in Kerala has innovated a cost effective method for harvesting rainwater in coastal areas. Rainwater is collected from the roof tops of houses and stored in a pressure tank on the ground and with the help of PVC pipes, water is lowered below sea level (16-24 feet). The water is retained in the underground water column which is then harvested during summer by a simple piston pump or motor by constructing a tube well in the vicinity. It has proved successful in diluting recharging ground water in coastal areas of Kerela and Antoji has installed 150 tanks in different parts of Kerala.

Water Wheel

Water Conservation - Wello Water Wheel
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This innovation comes from a foreign visitor who was inspired by women from villages of Rajasthan, who carried round earthen matkas on head for long distances in hot weather. This invention has made carrying water not only an effortless but fun activity. It is a round wheel shaped storage tanker with an attached handle on top to provide painless mobility. It has already become popular in villages of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Designed to reduce the drudgery and save time of working women, water wheel can store upto 10 to 50 litres of water in hygienic conditions. It’s designed for lasting on rough terrains and made from high quality plastic. It’s affordable too costing around 2000 rupees. It was innovated by a US based social entrepreneur, Cynthia Koeing under an organisation called Wello.




Shikha Shah
Shikha Shah has been working on water conservation and rural development activities ever since she joined TERI University for her master’s degree in Water Resources Management. She is currently an aspiring social entrepreneur working in the Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) cell of IIT Madras.


  1. Thank you so much Shika , for the information about water conservation . This needs to be shared and an awareness created about it at an all India level both with the Central and State Governments . With two poor years of monsoons , drought is raging across nine states in India currently .


    • Good initiative, must be implemented all over the places in India for saving the water for our future generations. Govt. also need to take more effort on it for encouraging and supporting people to do it better and effective way. Adequate awareness seminar shall be organized and sufficient training shall be provided for the plumber for the installation and maintenance.

      • Dear Shyju,
        thank you very much for your suggestion of organising awareness seminars. we are eager to provide both awareness and training. If you are interested, we can help you organise one event in your area

  3. Your matter is very commendable and interesting.I enjoyed in reading it.AND THIS HELPED ME IN DOING MY HOLIDAY HOMEWORK TOO.PLEASE WRITE MORE.

  4. […] This year, the summer has been extremely hot in India. Phalodi in Rajasthan, for example, recorded a temperature of 51°C – the highest ever recorded in India. Many states, such as Maharashtra, were hit by a severe drought and drinking water had to be transported through ‘water trains’. This crisis has led to renewed efforts to search for better methods to conserve water. […]