We’ve had summer for 2 years now at Vanapa. Well not in terms of season but in terms of rains. The whole of 2016 we had about 20 minutes of rain at our farm, our surface well is completely dry and our bore of 650ft can provide us an inch of water for 20 minutes a day, nothing more.
When all of us met to start this sustainable community in 2014, we were pretty sure that the going would get tough, but never did we think that in a matter of few years we would be thinking what we are thinking now, To Move!.
With water being scare we began buying water, and a tank of water which was available for Rs 450/- is now 800/- and we require 3 such Tanks on a daily basis, it was time to rethink about our plans if it the rains give us a miss in 2017 too. However we have begun to realize that the more we connect with nature the more we see and understand signals and patterns from nature, something kept telling us that the rains would surely show up this year and it was during one these discussion that Anup asked me if we are ready for the rains. I thought we were always ready, we have done enough swales, rain water harvesting pits, soak pits and also a small pond.
However Anup put forth this idea about having another pond just to retain water, and it was a very sensible one. We then began our discussions on the size of our pond, the location of the pond. Not that we have a huge area to pick from, but we have used most of our land for various elements and so we had just a couple of choices and picked on spot. We were not sure about the size but we were knew we were going to make a big pond as big as we can make it in the space available. In the end we decided to make a pond which is 25meters wide (around) and 2 meters deep.
The fear was that of the fear we had while we did the well ‘Rocks’, with a meter down we hit rocks and then it gets expensive to go past them. Thankfully for us, the rocks were not more than a think layer, it took us about 20 days and 8 hours per day with the JCB to dig out our pond.
Our pond area is full of sandy soil, this certainly is not good news if we were thinking of retaining water. We got into a research and discussion mode again, Anup and I. Both of us are not engineers of any kind, and our knowledge about constructions and other related topics is a perfect zero, but this was the fun part, we began reading as much as we could and also called our friends to find whatever we could find. Anup calling his Mumbai/pune friends and I was getting as gathering as much information from the civil engineers I
knew from my cricket team. The conversations Anup and I had from Jurong East to Changi will always go down as one the best farm related talks we have had, I wasn’t working on a daily basis but Anup was and his work was consuming more than 20hrs in a day during those days, so the best way to talk about our farm was when Anup was on his way to the office, I would accompany him on a 1 hour ride in the train to his office and return back thinking of all that we discussed, a lot of ideas and plans were born out of these few trips.
Eventually we decided on using the 500 micron Pond Liner provided by a company in Bangalore. It costed us close to 1.2Lacs for the pond liner and the installation together.
Directing water to the Pond
Finally the pond was ready …to hold on to any drop of water that would fall into her, however we cant only rely on the rain drops falling into the pond to gather water. The location of our pond was at a point where we could bring water from the land above if we planned well, we made two ditches which ran for almost 200 meters and the ditch was sloping towards the pond, so the plan was to bring all the running water into these two ditches and they would feed a small pit outside the pond which will act like an inlet to our pond. This looked just perfect at the moment and all we were waiting for was the rain god to shower some rain. Like a fairy tale story, the very next day after all of this was in place …it rained!!! It did not pour but it was a steady drizzle, it almost seemed like the rains were holding on until the pond and all of its elements were ready.
For the first time in 2 years we could see our soil getting wet, the pond gathering some water and the animals cooling under this beautiful weather. The steady rain did not gather a lot of water in the pond but we knew we were all set, we quickly made another ditch from a nearby hill leading into our property and joining our two ditches that were feeding our pond. This new ditch ran for almost 500 meters, we also placed a couple of cement pipes to assist in a 10 drop that we have at two locations before they merge into our pond.
What needs to be done have been done, we now are awaiting more rains and cant wait to see our pond full of water.
We almost feel like the nature is whispering into our ears that there will be good rains this year J.