Status report: June, 2009

The deception arose because water never quite dried up in the pond. I had assumed the pond water was steadily recharging the windmill’s borewell. Clearly the clayey bottom allows little percolation. The same soil, baking under the harsh sun all over the property, makes the rainwater skid off without rehydrating the ground. The evidence was there: after a sharp shower the ground would go soggy; but just a day of sunshine would turn it into hard pan again. I had not given the evidence enough weight.

For three weeks in April and May the windmill was starved of water because the water table had fallen lower. I called the people from Aureka over and we lowered the suction pipe by another 20 feet. [- its is now 140′ deep into the ground]. But the lesson to be learnt was harsher. Pumping would stop after 20 minutes and we’d tie up the windmill for an hour. That was the time required for weak springs underneath to recharge the borewell. This was the drill for weeks on end. As I write, harsh sun and still breezes are creating heat waves most days. The temperature ranges between 35 and 40 deg Celsius. The windmill stands still for many hours, which gives us the left handed gift of recharge time for the borewell. A very brief gale and a swift shower for about 40minutes improved matters somewhat. Better rains in distant villages appear to have increased the underground reserve -and hence flows to our borewell.

I can see what need to be done. The pond alone is not enough as a sustainable solution. It gathers water fallen elsewhere. What I need to do is trap water everywhere on the property and cause it infiltrate underground. I have already a plan but the time, labour, and costs are daunting but it can be done.

Labour woes

The chant everywhere in rural India is that labour is just not available. True. Where have all the millions gone? To the cities and towns and wherever else that gives them a better break and wage. The farmer’s own income is not so fanciful that he can pay an attractive wage to his labourers. Farm incomes are low because productivity is low and that is low because soil fertility is low. Regarding the last, the leadership has no clue- neither of the problem nor the solution. Just as one must believe in God despite the priest, one must hope farming can be made attractive despite the intruding professional agricultural scientists.

7 thoughts on “Status report: June, 2009

  1. Hello Mr. DV,

    I’m following the posts here as well as on twitter closely…One problem with the twitter though – We miss the thinking process / the emotional highs / lows and photos which you were describing in the posts on website posts….those were more important…because that is what matters in such projects. Twitter gives just the plain updates. Hence, request you to start giving updates and yes – photos etc on the website articles.

    Regards,
    – Kedar

  2. Dear Dv

    I am a follower of point return for a few years and i beleive i can bring in volunteers in regular numbers, i would like to meet you in person and discuss the same. you may mail me at sridhar.lakshmanan@gmail.com or call at 9445384021
    Regards
    Sridhar

  3. shobhan…
    you make a good point. active RWH and recharge is the next major exercise at pointReturn. the problem is, the pond’s floor is impervious clay, in the summer when water is most needed, the windmill has poor supply and the hardpan soil all over the site facilitates rapid runoff.
    the solution is to trap rain water where it falls and guide it underground.
    -dv

  4. DV,

    I have read all the articles. I am a regular visitor to your site. I wish your pR to be a success.

    I have a question though. When you had rain last year, there was excess run-off from your site. Also any excess pumped by the windmill goes into the network of pipes you have installed. Why not make all these excess water be led into the borewell itself? It will stay there as is and you can use when you want it? you can install a filter ( RWH type) which will clean the water and then let into the borewell.
    Let me know what to do you think about it.

  5. We totally understand your pain. Some 8000 of our tree saplings went without watering because the motor failed and the repair service men made mistakes on top of it. But most of these saplings survived with two feeble showers in between.

    I read somewhere that plants decide very early whether they can survive or not. They do not waste time and energy growing up into sick adults.

    Incidentally, we read a couple of pieces recently that lifted our spirit.

    Kareem’s forest
    http://59.92.116.99/eldoc1/e23_/01jan08csy1.pdf

    The Man Who Sowed Gandhi and Reaped Happiness – from GNI!
    http://www.goodnewsindia.com/index.php/Magazine/story/cherkady-natural-farmer/

    Our village near Coimbatore received a fair amount of rain today. Hope the clouds go where you are too.

    Ragu and Nisha@greenlocal

  6. Wow. This was a very interesting article DV. Thank you for such an honest and lucid piece.

    I am wishing the wind brings you rain soon :)

  7. Dear DV,

    Good to see an update on the happenings at PR.

    The whole project is indeed a mighty challenge,and one can clearly visualize the amount of endurance, and resourcefulness that’s needed to pursue and progress.

    Results apart, I am sure you are having a great experience in all of this. and is certainly inspiring to follow whats going on.

    As for a shower, I am sure a whole lot of us are already praying for it :) its probably just a week away.

    Regards,
    –Ganapathy

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