Water is not for wasting The precious liquid that nurtures life must be judiciously used.

Do we take water for granted? Unfortunately, we do. Despite knowing that it is a vital natural resource essential for our survival and that of all the animals and plants that inhabit the Earth. In fact, most of us don’t give a second thought to water since we assume that it will perennially be in bountiful supply. Isn’t it ironic that water comes into focus only when there is a drought or a flood — when there is too little or too much of it.

Last month’s news that ­Bengaluru — the city of lakes and gardens — was facing a severe water crisis made us sit up and take notice of that humble resource that sustains us. Reports of the government planning to impose a fine on those who waste water for washing cars, construction, and for entertainment purposes drove home the severity of the crisis. Even more disturbing were stories of residents of a posh gated community being advised to use disposable plates and cutlery to save water.

How does a vibrant metropolis come to this? Will my city face a similar crisis in the near future? The expert view on it is clear. India could become a water scarce nation in the coming years given the growing mismatch between water resources and demand. Also, groundwater levels are fast dipping at an alarming rate in several rural and urban areas across the country. Added to all this is climate change as a result of which we have witnessed extreme weather events which manifested itself in heavy unseasonal rains followed by long stretches of intense drought.

Given all that, the wise thing to do is to conserve water. So, what can we do to use water judiciously? Charity, as they say, begins at home. Here are a few tips culled from several reports available on the net. Some are also from water conferences I have attended.

One of the simplest ways to respect the earth’s natural resource is to ensure that none of the pipes and taps in your house are leaking. It is unbelievable but even a dripping tap left unfixed can lead to a loss of about 200 litres a day. Now think of the damage a leaking main pipe can do.

Unfortunately, I know of families who do not bother to call the plumber and replace a washer to fix a leaking tap. Instead, they resort to half measures like plugging the leak with a cloth rag till such time that the tap has to be repaired or replaced.

The water resources ministry has launched a scheme which plans the construction of 1.42 crore rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge structures across the country to save 185 billion cubic metres of rainfall.

Another activity that leads to much wastage is brushing teeth or shaving. It is very common to see people leave the tap on while they brush their teeth or when they shave. If they were to close the tap till it’s time to rinse the mouth or wash the face after the razor has done its job, it could save about 10 litres. Now think of a family of four wasting 40 litres of water each morning. It will be 14,600 litres wasted in a year! And remember, we are not factoring in the brushing of teeth at night.

If you enjoy your bath under a shower, remember to install a low flow shower head which dispenses less water. Also, standing more than the required five to seven minutes under the shower could up your water consumption considerably. And yes, remember to turn off the shower when you are soaping your body, or it will be more water down the drain.

For those who use washing machines, it would be wise to put a full load of clothes at each wash rather than run the machine frequently. That will help you save water, although new washing machines have settings for half loads to conserve water. There are also machines which use less water and power. So, do some research if you are buying a new washing machine.

We all love to keep the space around our homes clean. It is not uncommon to see driveways being washed with a power hose every day. Even those living in flats like to have their balconies washed by the domestic helper every morning. ­Perhaps, making this a biweekly exercise would save considerable amount of water. Or else, why not just use a wet mop to clean the floor? It does as good a job.

Expert view is clear. India could become a water scarce nation in the coming years given the growing mismatch between water resources and demand.

There are various small ways in which we can cut our consumption and you can be proactive in your community by participating or launching a save water initiative. Rainwater harvesting is considered one of the most efficient ways of saving water. Not only can the water collected during rains be used for non-drinking purposes, but it can also be used for recharging groundwater. Those living in housing complexes without a rain harvesting and groundwater recharging system should persuade members to install one. It is worth the investment since it not only saves water, but it can also help in reducing waterlogging, especially in cities where apartment blocks are surrounded by impervious cemented surfaces around it.

You may wonder if an individual’s contribution can help to make a difference when the world outside is wasting water. Yes, it can. Also, the good news is that things are changing. The water resources ministry has launched a scheme which plans the construction of 1.42 crore rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge structures across the country to save 185 billion cubic metres of rainfall.

This along with measures to mitigate climate change and to save dying rivers and water bodies is sorely needed. There must also be an effort on the part of citizens to conserve nature and consume water judiciously. Every individual effort counts. Remember the saying “little drops of water make a mighty ocean.” Go ahead and become your community’s water warrior.

The writer is a senior journalist who writes on environmental issues


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