WHY YOU SHOULD SAVE WATER
Well, if you want to live long enough on planet Earth for your first job interview, or your first professional match or first space travel to Mars, then start saving water now because according Global Water Institute (2013) some 700 million people worldwide may have to leave their homes, cities, countries because of lack of water by 2030. And then you know we will have water wars, and some of us will be looking for water on other planets!
But the water situation in India is more serious. Do you know that Niti Aayog (the office that tells the government good things it must do for India) says by 2020, as many as 21 major cities of India will run out of water? And this includes India’s capital, New Delhi.
If only the person who left the tap open in the train washroom in the story A Journey to Remember knew that humans are facing the worst water crisis in history the traveler would have certainly closed the tap.
Water crisis? What water crisis, you may ask. Look, there’s water everywhere: sea, rivers, lakes, dams, ponds… so much of water! Right?
Wrong! More than 97.2 per cent of Earth's water is unusable by humans and only 0.3 per cent of the total water on Earth is freshwater.
The careless attitude of the traveller in the train is not an unusual behaviour. Well, let’s be honest, most of us don't really think it is important to save water. We open the tap; water flows out and we think there's plenty of water.
But here's the thing: water is a finite source. What that means is that the water on Earth is all the water there is; you cannot create extra water. Yes, that's right the water you are drinking is the same water that existed at the time of the Dinosaurs.
But humans did not coexist with Dinosaurs, so thankfully there was plenty of water for all. But today there are 7.8 billion people in the world fighting for that same amount of 0.3 per cent of freshwater. And this is what has happened on Earth:
Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing water crisis. (UN, 2018)
By 2040, one in four of the world’s children under 18 – some 600 million in all – will be living in areas where there’s going to be little water (UNICEF, 2017)
Closer home, according to Niti Aayog 2018 water report
600 million Indians (which is almost twice the population of the whole of United States) do not have access to safe drinking water
75 per cent of households do not have drinking water on premises!
But one wonders why India is facing a water crisis when India gets plenty of rain and is a land of bountiful rivers? Yes, compared to other countries, India has a lot of water. You see, India gets enough annual rainfall during monsoon to meet the need of over one billion plus people. According to the Central Water Commission, India needs a maximum of 3,000 billion cubic metres of water a year while it receives 4,000 billion cubic metres of rain.
The problem is India captures only eight per cent of its annual rainfall - among the lowest in the world. And because India is not able to store its rainwater, it draws up the water from the ground.
Well, if you did not know then here are some facts for you:
India is the biggest user of groundwater. It extracts more groundwater than China and the USA combined.
Groundwater is the main source of India’s agriculture (89 %) and drinking water supply.
Household use 9 per cent of groundwater followed by industry that uses only two per cent of it
Overall, 50 per cent of urban water requirement and 85 per cent of rural domestic water needs are fulfilled by groundwater.
So, the reason why we have a water crisis is because:
We don’t store rainwater
We mindlessly extract water from the ground without recharging the aquifers
We waste water
Do you know that more than 50 per cent of the India's freshwater is wasted through leakages and poor water management?
Kolkata wastes 50 per cent of the water that it receives
Bangalore wastes 49 per cent of the water it receives
New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai waste 26 per cent, 20 per cent, and 18 per cent of water respectively
So, let’s see how we use water and how we waste water:
A. First is Direct Use: Where water is used for household work. Just to give you an idea, 135 liters of water is used per person per day. The break-up is as follows:
Bathing: 55 litres
Toilet flushing: 30 litres
Washing of clothes: 20 litres
Washing the house: 10 litres
Washing utensils: 10 liters
Cooking: 5 liters
Drinking: 5 litres
Does bathing require 55 litres per day?
Most people use about 50-55 litres of water for a shower bath that is equal to two buckets of water approximately. So, can you finish your bath by using just one bucket that is 25 litres of water?
1) Fussy cleaning
Mopping the house with two buckets of water, washing clothes every day and leaving the tap open till the clothes are wrung, watering the lawn with a hose pipe until you flood the ground and it extra squelchy; washing the verandah every day. You end up wasting more than 570 litres of water! So instead, you can mop the whole house with just one bucket of water and that, too, not a full bucket; you wash the verandah once a week, wash clothes on alternate days.
2) Brush your teeth, wash your hands but do close the tap!
You probably brush your teeth every day, though there may be that odd day when you forgot, conveniently 😉, but just remember to close the tap while brushing your teeth, otherwise you end up wasting 15 litres of precious water by letting the water run while you sleepily (zzzz) brush.
3) Your toilet visit equals 18 litres of water
Your mother or grandmother must have said this to you at some point: If it’s yellow, keep it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down!' Every time you flush the toilet, you flush up to 18 litres of water per flush-- which means about 300-odd litres a week. So, how can you save water? If it's just urine, half-flush your toilet or use a small amount of bucket water to replace the flush.
And if your flush is leaky then 3500 litres of water is going down the toilet every month. Don't ignore a leaky toilet. Fix it. And, psst, one more thing: be gentle when press the flush key, the reason why the toilet becomes leaky is because we keep jabbing at the key!
4) Mummies, veggies can be cleaner with a closed tap, too
Washing your fruit and vegetables in running water will not get them any cleaner than washing them in a pan filled with water.
5) Reuse R.O Water:
The wastewater that keeps flowing out of your R.O system all the time can be used for watering your plants or even soaking clothes for washing. All you need to do is have a longer pipe that can reach your garden or the washing area.
Solution: Water meters!
Our dear Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mr Yogi Adityanath, can make putting of water metres at homes compulsory for everyone. That way you will keep turning off the tap the way you keep switching off fans and tube-lights to save money!
B. Indirect Use = Water used by factories, industries and powerplants
Now, this is the part where our prime minister, our chief minister and our administration must take very strict action and ensure that factories use water sensibly and discharge treated water only into lakes and rivers. See how these factories have been polluting our rivers.
If Hindon can be cleaned then farmers can use this water for irrigation. Also, Hindon’s water can be used for drinking purpose after proper treatment. And we all can go for a picnic!
C. Virtual Water Now, there’s another way water is used.
It’s like an invisible way. This is called Virtual Water. Virtual Water helps us understand how our lifestyle is affecting our water usage.
For example making 1 hamburger
1 hamburger = 634 gallons of water (3.7 litres x 634)
1 pair of jeans =2900 gallons
1 pound of apple = 84 gallons of water
One of the reasons many non-vegetarian people are turning into vegetarians is because livestock and the meat industry use up a whole lot of water which can give millions of African children a chance to go to school.
Here's a quick question for all of you living in Noida-Greater Noida?
Where do you get your water from? From the ground! We don’t get water supply from rivers like Ganga like people in Delhi.
Now if all of us are using groundwater for agriculture and domestic use, then is the groundwater level not decreasing? It is, because again, we are using up more groundwater than we should, and the groundwater is not getting recharged at the same speed. So, how can we increase the level of groundwater if we don’t want our city to turn into a desert?
Actually, it’s quite easy. Mr Ramveer Tanwar , a young environmentalist has a simple solution, which is also a traditional method used by our ancestors. He says by creating ponds we can increase the groundwater level. How? Watch this video interview by Dev Dixit.
How Mr Ramveer Tanwar revived a pond
Rainwater harvesting can also help a great deal. Again, it’s quite easy. If all the Residents’ Welfare Associations of societies (RWAs) can make pits for storing water, these societies can reduce their dependence on groundwater.
So next time, when you take a bath, or keep the tap open while brushing your teeth, just remember that water is a finite source, and we need to save it if all of us want to live a healthy and a long life! Long enough to travel to Mars! Or wait for the Massive Water Cloud that will arrive from deep space in 17 years and we could get almost an infinite amount of water, but if we act silly again, and don’t store that water we will end up twiddling our thumbs.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank my mother, my father and my very dear relatives for helping me in putting my blog on water conservation together.
List of Sources for the blog: