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Monday, January 8, 2018

Making a pond live

India is blessed with ponds. In last 30 years, so many have been made for irrigation and livelihood purposes.

In our ecosystem, we also incorporated ponds – one to get fresh water for bees, animals and birds. (Note- now we don’t believe in ponds as a source of water, as a good idea or investment; for that one needs large trees).

I soon realized the problems with such ponds –
1.       If the sub-soil is not black cotton, it takes many many years, even upto 7 to 10 for the seepages to go away.
2.       Before the seepage gets over, the walls start developing water channels and tunnels. Typically walls need rework before 2nd year, and thereafter.

3.       Most importantly, even after restricting human pollution, the pond is not able to support aquatic life naturally. Even if fed unnaturally from top, the return on fishing is very less, as they have no place to hide for breeding or extreme sun or cold.

Hence, ponds start getting used for commercial crops, but they are not meant for that and don’t hold so much water. So eventually they become a bone of contention amongst farmers. The same story is repeated village after village and pond after pond.

So once we made our private ponds, and discovered the above problems, I started thinking and reading.  God sent many knowledgeable folks to guide.

As a first, step we planted vetiver (khus), kantkari on the sides and top of the walls. That had miraculous effect. The walls stopped eroding with rains and water channels. In addition, the seepage slowed down significantly.

Next step, we planted tap rooted and other trees, roughly 5 to 10 feet away from the walls, all around. It took 2 years to make an observable impact, but seepage was down to a trickle. I knew in an year the soil itself will take care of the remaining seepage.

While following the above step, we planted some moringa, subabool etc on purpose, so that their leaves can become fodder to pond life later on.
Now our two problems were solved or within sight of solution – that of side erosion and of seepage. 

Next we had to work on creating underwater ecosystem.
Surprisingly, after trying many things, the one that worked best was planting Besharam on the sides. It remained green even in summers with little water, and provided shelter and tunnels for the fish to breed. Then alongwith Besharam, we planted Lotus stems.

Earlier, we had tried lotus stems on barren pond but they didn’t succeed. But now alongwith Besharam they did!

These plants also allowed birds and bees to easily drink water. I am optimistic that birds and bees are also giving something back to the pond life.

So we had a water purifying plant also, and that too a commercially costly one. Now we are able to leave fishes in the ponds.

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