I was out on a hot summer afternoon, working on a project in a remote village. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable as there was no more drinking water, We had run out of it early today because of the extreme heat. A worker was sent to the village head’s house to arrange for more. He returned in an hour empty handed. Because there was no electricity since last night, pumps were dead and water in most of the houses had run out. We stopped working as it was becoming impossible to stand under the hot sun and sat under a tree waiting for electricity.
As I sat there, my mind began to race. Sitting in my house in the city, I had never heard of water running out. I wasted so much of it and here villagers suffered for the lack of it. Just once afternoon was needed to make me realize the importance of water. But alas, a huge number of population never faces a situated similar to what I faced today and so no one notices how important it is to save every drop of water every single day. This has to be done collectively.
What is water conservation exactly; “Water conservation includes all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably manage the natural resource of fresh water, to protect the hydrosphere, and to meet the current and future human demand. Population, household size, and growth and affluence all affect how much water is used. Factors such as climate change have increased pressures on natural water resources especially in manufacturing and agricultural irrigation”
The goals of water conservation efforts include:
Energy conservation as water pumping, delivery and wastewater treatment facilities consume a significant amount of energy. In some regions of the world over 15% of total electricity consumption is devoted to water management.
Auroville is involved in number of projects to conserve water. Regular workshops on water harvesting has shown results and people here are better equipped to handle water crises. Rainwater harvesting is one of the most effective ways to conserve water. In a single rain, a few litres of water can be collected to be used later for cleaning, bath & even gardening. Underground man made tanks can hold the water and used as and when required.
Drip irrigation is most effective way of getting the water to the roots with minimum evaporation saving huge amount of water as compared to flood irrigation or overhead irrigation. This is still the least used method because of high costs but water wastage is definitely minimal.
Check dams are built in order to form natural lakes and ponds. This prevents the fresh water to go waste and instead can be used for farming. Check dams preserve the water and let it filter down to the ground rendering the soil useful in order to let the plants grow. They also retain soil from eroding.
Saltwater Intrusion is another major problem that is faced in Auroville. It is situated on the coast and with reserves of ground water going dry, the sea water is eventually taking its place. One of the problems is excessive use of water for farming. In some parts the government distributes free power and that encourages villagers to use the water pumps without any breaks. This results in wastage of ground water rampantly. Over use of ground water is depleting the natural reservoirs. On the other hand, most of the water used in houses runs down to the drain and in the rivers and eventually in the sea. Lack of rains at times doesn’t replenish the ground water and in long run renders the top soil useless. Protecting ground water resources and keeping it from getting contaminated is need of the hour.
Here at Auroville steps are taken to conserve water by putting the above ideas into practice. Results have been encouraging but the practice has to spread in other parts of the state. This needs strict rules and regulations & feasible policies otherwise we are not far from the day when wars will be fought over water. Scary right? So let’s act now and save water.