Earth is covered by 3/4th of water. 97% of this is present in oceans as salt water which is unfit for human consumption. Fresh water accounts for only about 2.7% out of which 70% occurs as ice sheets and glaciers. Only 1% of fresh water is available and fit for human use. So it is very important to conserve this precious resource. But we are contaminating the existing water resources with sewage, toxic chemicals and wastes. Increasing population and rapid urbanization has led to over use of water resources leading to water pollution and scarcity. Water scarcity can be defined as a situation when people don’t have enough water to fulfil their needs. India is one of the many countries that are facing water scarcity today.

In remote villages women has to cover long distance to get water. In cities like Bangalore, a family has to spend Rs 15 to Rs 20 to meet their daily needs of water. A recent study has revealed that about 25% of urban population lacks the accessibility to fresh water. Also privatization of water bodies often leads to water scarcity in nearby areas. Fortunately, there are ways to save water for everyone, from germaphobes to conservationists. The average family of four uses 450 liters of water a day, which is 164,000 litre a year.

Strategies for water conservation are as follows

  • Rain water harvesting – digging ponds, lake, canals, expanding the water reservoir and installing rain water catching ducts and filtration systems on homes are different methods of harvesting rain water.
  • Protecting ground water resources- water in saturation zone is called ground water. Contamination of ground water caused by storage tanks, septic systems, uncontrolled hazardous waste, landfills, atmospheric contaminants, chemicals. Contamination decreases the replenishment of available freshwater so taking preventive measures by protecting ground water resources is important aspect of water conservation.
  • There should be water-saving technology in the home appliances like
  • Low-flow shower heads (also called energy-efficient shower heads).
  • Low-flush toilets, composting toilets, dual flush toilets (uses almost 67% less water than the conventional toilets), faucet aerators, raw water flushing (toilets using sea water or non-purified water).
  • Weather-based irrigation controllers, garden hose nozzles, low flow taps everywhere.
  • Covered swimming pool to reduce water evaporation.

All these reduces water consumption to a great extent and can save more water if used on daily basis in all houses.

  • Agricultural appliances used by the farmers should also be of water-saving technology to reduce water consumption while irrigating crops.Using drip irrigation methods can save up to 30,000 gallons of water per year by replacing sprinkler irrigation systems.

UNEP Green Economy Report notes that “improved soil organic matter from the use of green manures, mulching, and recycling of crop residues and animal manure increases the water holding capacity of soils and their ability to absorb water during heavyrains”, which is a way to optimize the use of rainfall and irrigation during dry periods in the season.

  • Promotion of water conservation through media and by conducting public awareness programmes.
  • Promoting the greenery by involving in afforestation.

Other useful tips for saving water:

  • If there is a water shortage in your area, make sure you understand any restrictions or water rationing.
  • Find out if there are any rebates for water-saving devices, depending on where you live. Some municipalities encourage water saving by offering rebates for things like low flow toilets. Others provide free or reduced cost low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.
  • Dispose properly of hazardous materials, including cleaning supplies, motor oil, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, pesticides, and fertilizers. While proper waste disposal does not directly conserve water, it is critical to preserving the safety and quality of the water supply that is available.
  • Educate your family members and housemates and enlist their assistance in saving water.
  • Water coming out from the washing machine can be used for washing vehicle. The leftover water from fruits and vegetables can be used for gardening.
  • For simpler water collection, spray the shower water into a plastic milk or other jug while the shower is warming up. Use a minimum of a 1/2 gallon bottle.

Precautionary measures:

  • If you choose to reclaim gray water for garden use, make sure that any soaps or detergents you use are safe for that purpose. Don’t use gray water for food plants.
  • If you are collecting rainwater, be sure to mosquito-proof your collection system.

  • Shobha Naik , Dr. Sachin Sinha and Menka Sinha

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