Water is the phenomenon that makes our planet unique. Water sustains all life on the planet. Human evolution and progress are intricately tied in with the availability of water. The great ancient civilizations of the world are all centred round mighty rivers; the Nile, the Indus, the Yellow River and the Tigris Euphrates. Water is the resource that is crucial to sustainable development.
Water is a finite resource. There is on Earth today exactly the same quantity of water as there was when the Earth was born. The water is constantly being recycled through the process of evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection. The quantity of available is sufficient to support life on the planet. However the human water requirement is insatiable. The minimum requirement for human sustenance is 7.5 litres of water a day per head. In order to meet minimum standards of personal and food hygiene the requirement is 20 litres per head, per day. The alarming rate at which the number of heads is increasing is putting tremendous pressure on the planets water resources. Further the water needed is fresh water. Ninety seven% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, but 70% of this water is saline. Only 1% is available for human consumption. Water conservation has become a top global priority.
FACT 1: Water conservation means using water efficiently and avoiding waste. Water conservation is everyone’s responsibility so that everyone has water now and everyone will have water in the future.
FACT 2: As man moved from hunter gatherer to farmer more water was required. Irrigation was invented 7000 years ago to deal with water shortages. Most of the world’s food resources are dependent on irrigation. Depletion of fresh water resources could threaten food security. In India as in other top irrigating countries, irrigation is dependent on ground water supplies. Farmers are pumping out ground water eight times faster than it is being replenished. This depletion in ground water is leading to open wells drying up.
FACT 3: Pollution of freshwater bodies has unfortunately gone hand in hand with human progress. Economic models for growth have never considered the cost to the fragile ecosystems that are sustained by freshwater. Today government are providing incentives and passing laws to reduce the harm caused by dumping household and industrial waste into freshwater bodies.
FACT 4: All the trappings that become indispensable to human life take a toll on the water resources. Ten litres of water are needed to make 1 sheet of paper and 91 litres to make 500 grams of plastic.
FACT 5: Technology and smart planning are vital to water conservation. The quantity of water used can be reduced and the quality of waste water improved. Some textile manufacturers have succeeded in getting the water coming out of the mills to be cleaner than the town’s drinking water.
FACT 6: Eighty per cent of the world’s energy is generated by thermal electricity. This involves boiling vast quantities of water to produce steam. As part of the water conservation drive, many countries are developing the technology to harness renewable sources of energy such as sunlight, waves and wind.
FACT 7: The Federal Government in USA has set the target for reduction of potable and unpotable water by all its agencies. The reduction should be 2% from a baseline of 2007 and 2010 respectively. All agencies should appoint energy managers to implement and oversee identified water efficiency measures.
FACT 8: State governments are offering various incentives and creating awareness about saving every drop of water. Kids participate in poster competitions and citizens are offered free landscape irrigation evaluation and rainwater barrels.
FACT 9: Going brown is the term used for the decision to discontinue green areas (excluding trees) that do not use recycled water.
FACT 10: Households can contribute to water conservation by using high efficiency toilets, fixing leaking taps, growing plants native to the area, watering after 6pm or before 10am, and watering plants only twice a week. Hotels should do less laundry and serve less water.