INDIA’S WATER CRISIS: A SITUATION WE CAN SOLVE TOGETHER
Water crisis in India reached an alarming level this year. For a country which claims 2.4% of the total global area, supporting 18% of the global population has been a challenge on various fronts. Ensuring availability of water has been one of them.
As per Census 2011 data, 32% of the rural households in India had access to piped water supply, while the corresponding share for urban households was 72%.
In one of his articles published in 2013, water activist Sri S. Vishwanath had made an observation that high income households tend to consume 250 litres (per head and above) and sometimes as high as 600 litres while low income households sustain on as little as 40 litres per person per day (Source: ‘How much water does an urban citizen need?’ – The Hindu). The rich-poor divide in water consumption has only risen over the intermediate years.
With the India Metereological Department predicting a delay in the monsoon, it’s time we started adopting certain water-saving measures in our households. Some of these measures were issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India:
Toilets: Residential demands account for about three-fourths of the total urban water demand. Indoor use accounts for roughly 60 percent of all residential use, and of this, toilets use nearly 40 percent. Traditional toilets use between 16 and 20 liters per flush, which means an average consumption of 80-100 liters daily per inhabitant; water-efficient low-flush toilets use only 6 litres per flush can reduce that figure to 30 litres a day per inhabitant.
Showers: Showers account for about 20 percent of total indoor water use. Using a bucket instead is likely to reduce this wastage by more than 80%. However, for those who love their showers, the standard ones with 20 litre-per-minute showerheads can also be replaced with 10 litre-per-minute showerheads to cut down wastage by half. This can be accomplished by using new shower-head designs or flow reducers.
Indoor leak detection: A great deal of water is lost in homes through leaks in pipes, plumbing fixtures and toilets. Water trickling down through a leakage through the kitchen or bathroom pipe is not a rare sight in a regular household. However, keeping water consumption efficiency and conservation in mind, even such minor leakages may be fixed expeditiously.
Garden watering: Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen sinks, vegetable washing and laundry is called gray water. It can be used by homeowners for home gardening, lawn maintenance and landscaping in residential apartments. Further, ensuring appropriate garden watering practices also helps in saving water. The best time to water is between 4 and 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. and midnight.
Vehicle washing: One of the most wasteful ways of using water is washing down vehicles with a hose. It is best done with the gray water from households and a wet cloth. And for car owners in urban centres, on the basis of feasibility, public car wash services that reuse water may also be patronised.
Low-flow plumbing fixtures: These are easy-to-implement, permanent, and onetime water conservation measures that regulate the flow of water and ensure minimum wastage in kitchen sinks, toilets and bathrooms.
Basin and sink faucets aerators: Flow reduction in these fixtures is achieved by using aerators. Faucet aerators, which break the flowing water into fine droplets and entrain air while maintaining wetting effectiveness, are inexpensive devices that can be installed in sinks to reduce water use by as much as 60 percent while still maintaining a strong flow.
Water metres: Though water metres have not been made mandatory in all cities in India, installation of these metres can help in self-monitoring water consumption and conserve accordingly.
Given the extent of wastage in urban households, most of these measures are focused on the urban users. However, even in semi-urban and rural communities, it is important to ensure that faulty community taps are reported, and used judiciously and repaired regularly to cut down on water wastage.
Water was meant to be a free resource for all living beings. Nature had also created its own system for replenishment. However, we have for long exploited this resource, like all other natural resources, indiscriminately. Hence, to avert a major water crisis, it is definitely time to adopt measures for a ‘water truce’ – a truce that would ensure adequate availability of water for people across income and regional divides.
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