The Menik Ganga Area Water Partnership (AWP) together with local and temple authorities, local traders and youth groups helped protect water supplies during the one-week Sella Kataragama festival in July.
The annual festival attracts 100,000 pilgrims, putting a strain on water supplies – at their lowest at this time of year – and polluting streams. Banners, posters and handbills handed out to pilgrims as they arrived, together with announcements over public address systems and strategically placed bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, reduced pollution and improved water quality for pilgrims and downstream settlements. Managing water resources during the festival was just one part of an action plan for allocating and using water developed by stakeholders in 2010. A sub-basin committee set up to resolve water issues downstream from the middle reaches of the river (Buttala Division) addressed distribution of water from a newly built reservoir, and effluent from a sugar plantation and factory.