Where the water is

in a bid to boost rural development, engineers in Jaipur have developed a software that would help parched villagers by assisting them predict water supplies. It would also help in proper management of water. The software, called SimTanka , simulates the performance of rainwater harvesting systems with covered water storage tanks in fluctuating rainfall conditions. The software is the first of its kind in the country.

Most desert-tract villages have small ponds that provide them enough drinking water for nearly eight months during a good season. Apart from these, villagers in western parts of Rajasthan also use tankas , which are covered tanks. Tankas are circular holes in the ground lined with fine polished lime or chunam , which collect rainwater. Water from tankas are used only when other supplies fail.

Using computer simulation, the new software will predict the performance of rainwater harvesting system, which is based on an actual mathematical model. SimTanka simulates the fluctuating rainfall on which the water harvesting system relies.

"Traditional water harvesting techniques have been severely eroded, thrown into disuse and have even been eliminated in most parts of the country,' says a citizens' report on the state of India's environment brought out by the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi.

Rainwater harvesting systems for a given place are often designed on the basis of some statistical indicator of rainfall such as the average rainfall. When rainfall is meagre or shows large fluctuations