Introduction

Water is a very precious resource that has been made available to us by mother earth. It is an everyday commodity that is as useful to humans as it is to animals, bird, trees, and plants or to any other living creature, for that matter. It is life providing and without water there would be no life on the planet. We all have heard since childhood that earth constitutes 71% of water by volume. Doing the mathematics that would be around 1.386 billion Km3 approximately. Have you ever wonder that despite having so much big quantity of water, why do we ever need to think about water conservation, rainwater harvesting and other methods to save water? Perhaps, there is something more that you should know.

This essay on water conservation, discusses in detail the meaning of water conservation; needs and importance of water conservation; water conservation in Indian context; adaptable water conservation methods for urban and rural areas; traditional water conservation methods in India and tips to conserve water in households.  

What is Water Conservation?

Water conservation includes sustainable management of available fresh water resources in such a way so that they are made available to the present civilizations as well as to the future generations.

It may also involve planning and policy making at various levels of communities and governments. Point to be noted is that it is a conservation method to save fresh water available on and in the earth. There is a clear and huge difference between the total water available on the planet and the availability of fresh water on the planet that we use for drinking and other purposes; as we will further know in this essay.

Need of Water Conservation

As we already know that around 71% of earth’s surface, that is around 1.386 billion Km3 of water by volume. But there is a catch – around 97.5% of this available water is salt water and only remaining 2.5% is fresh water. Hold your breath, here is the mother of all facts – Only 0.3% of that miniscule 2.5% of available fresh water is in liquid form on the surface. Rest is in frozen form in glaciers, ice and mountain caps, etc. Simple mathematics consolidates the figure of total volume of fresh surface water to something around a little over 1, 00, 000 Km3 only. That is far low than the total availability of water on earth; inadvertently making liquid fresh water a precious or very precious resource to be precise.

Current world population of 753 crore has put tremendous strain on the planet’s fresh water resources. Water is required everyday for agricultural, industrial and municipal activities. Every day the global population throughout the world needs 10 billion tons of fresh water every day. Even today, as in 2020, many parts of developing and under developed countries face acute water crisis. If study by World Health Organization (WHO) is to be believed – around 30% of world’s population in 50 countries will face extreme water crisis by 2025. That’s only 5 years down the line from now. The population of the world is growing everyday and so is the demand for water. But sadly, the rate of production of fresh water through natural process is far low than the global rate of increase in its demand. Unless we take concrete and determined step to conserve/save water; it is most likely that in near future wars will be fought for water.

Importance of Water Conservation

The most important reason for water conservation is to secure the future of human race on the planet. Water is a precious necessity and is required every day by humans, animals and every other living organism. Without water, there would be no life and the planet will soon become dry and arid. Also, water is required for irrigation and crop production.  There would also be no rain, further aggregating the situation. It is scary to even imagine a day without water. Therefore, water conservation becomes a mandatory act if we want to secure our future and also the future of the coming generations.  

Water Conservation in India

Water conservation in India must be initiated on community level and with war footing, because the 130 billion strong country is on the verge of becoming global hotspot for ‘water insecurity’ by the year 2050.

Several parts of India are already facing acute water crisis. Almost 89% of the country’s fresh water is used for agricultural purposes while remaining 6 and 5% are used for domestic and industrial purposes respectively. There is a need to change traditional irrigation methods and implement advance and water saving methods. Perhaps, we can learn something from China in this matter. In India, we use around 5, 600 liters of water to produce 1 Kilogram of paddy; while China produces same quantity of paddy with around 300-400 liters of water.

Need For Water Conservation In India

The following facts will let you understand the present gravity of situation in India and why India needs to give water conservation a serious consideration.

  • Only 32.7 million rural households out of 178.7 million have access to drinking tap water.
  • By 2050 India will be a global hotspot for water insecurity.
  • India is the largest producer of rice in the world with paddy cultivation accounting for 43.2 million hectares.
  • Around 89% of ground water is used for irrigation; out of which 60% is used for crops like paddy and sugarcane.

Water Conservation Steps by the Government of India

The Government of India has constituted a committee of secretaries (CoS) under the Directorship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The function of the committee is to chart out plan for reducing water consumption in the irrigation of paddy and sugarcane.

Water Conservation Methods for Farmers

The procedures that could be adopted by the farmers to reduce the use of fresh water in farming are given below.

  • Construction of field channels for better control over water consumption individually by the farmers.
  • Shallow tillage operation before soaking the field with water helps considerably in conserving water used in irrigation purposes.
  • Also leveling of fields from time to time helps conserve water use for irrigation.
  • Bunds must be constructed across field border to conserve rain water. These bunds should be high enough to prevent over flow.

Israel – An Inspiration for the World

Israel has set presented itself as a perfect example of water conservation for the world to get inspired from. It treats nearly 94% of its waste water and recycles around 85% of it. It has also planned to increase its recycled water percentage to 90% in next five to seven years.

Conclusion

It is the correct time for the world as well as India to learn some lesson of water conservation from countries like China and Israel. The key is to recycle and conserve every drop of water keeping in mind that water is the most precious gift of nature to the humans.

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By Abha