Water wars: here’s how you can save the precious resource

As Chennai braces for one of its toughest summers, Nidhi Adlakha writes on how you can help conserve the precious resource

Did you know that approximately one billion people in India live with water scarcity for at least one part of the year? Ahead of the polls next week, the Tamil Nadu government has already declared 17 districts – including Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur – as drought hit.

But it is not just India. The world is on a brink of a severe water crisis, and as WaterAid India’s 2019 report states, over four billion people across the world live in water-scarce areas and 844 million don’t have access to clean water close to home. Globally, we are using six times as much water today as we did 100 years ago, and not putting in place mechanisms to conserve it.

Titled Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water, the report highlights ‘countries where the largest populations live with physical water scarcity, how ballooning consumer demands jeopardise water access for the poorest and most marginalised people, and how making thoughtful choices as consumers can help ensure access to water for basic needs is prioritised – wherever you are in the world’.

The hunt begins

We have been alerted time and again on the impending crisis and how to take adequate measures to conserve water. So why do we wake up when it actually hits us? Walk past any locality in Chennai today and every third house is digging a bore well. Water levels are dipping by the day and the hunt for water has only begun. In India, 75% of households don’t have drinking water on the premises, and over 70% of drinking water is contaminated.

NITI Aayog’s 2018 report mentioned that 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about 2 lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. And if this isn’t enough to ring alarm bells, the report further stated that with nearly 70% of India’s water being contaminated, we’re placed at 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. It states: ‘By 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for millions and an eventual 6% loss in the country’s GDP’.

What you can do

Access to safe and clean drinking water is a human right. Here’s how you can help save the precious resource:

l Start off by fixing leaky taps and faucets. One leaky taps results in about 20 litres wasted in a day.

l Get a rainwater harvesting system at your home and office.

l Reuse water from the kitchen, mopping, and water filter for your garden or to wash the car.

l Choose efficient fixtures: low-flow toilets and shower heads, and green-rated washing machines

l Water plants in the morning as you will need less water then.

l Don’t waste food. Throwing away half an avocado and buying another wastes over 500 litres of water (WaterAid India).

l Think before you shop. Every year 450 million pairs of jeans are sold in the U.S., accounting for around 3.6 billion litres of water. The average American already owns seven pairs. Buy less, and source clothes from organisations that have a water conservation policy in place.

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