Water is the main factor that helps to sustain life on earth. While we are aware of the fact that about 70% of the human body is comprised of water and so is the earth’s surface; still we do not put in efforts to save this essential element which although is freely available but is so scarce that some people walk miles every day simply to fetch it.
With freshwater resources being only about 2.7% of the water present on earth, ground water is the most important source, forming a mere fraction with 0.5% of the total water. Rampant use of ground water especially through pumps and tube wells for irrigation purposes has led to its receding levels. Other problems associated with ground water include seepage of residual pesticides into it as a result of use of pesticides at a high rate. The need of the hour is to learn from countries which have made advancement in the field of agriculture, one such country is Israel which in spite of the harsh land conditions has managed to maintain the agriculture sector very well. The use of sprinklers (preferably overhead), organic farming and green manures & bio pesticides should be promoted which would not only help to conserve water, but also improve the quality of yield.
There is a need to impose strict laws and penalize industries which do not abide by laws related to the disposal of waste. At individual level, we can help by making use of equipments which use less water such as small faucets in toilets and sensor based taps and showers. Rain water harvesting is another method which is a boon, especially in water scarce regions or regions with poor water supply.
Rivers on the other hand, face problems like eutrophication and presence of heavy metals resulting from the dumping of untreated wastes into rivers by certain industries.
Eutrophication, caused as a result of excessive nitrates and phosphates owing mainly to the organic waste (including sewage) is detrimental to the survival of fish and other aquatic organisms because of reduced Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and it also makes water unfit for human consumption. The increased level of pollutants in water bodies poses a serious threat to the ecosystem. The polluted water not only affects human health but even the small creatures residing in it; one such example being of a pesticide DDT which was earlier used at a large scale. The bio magnification of DDT from the small fish to the proceeding trophic levels and ultimately to the humans is an apt example of how the pollutants increase in concentration and affect every organism in the food chain. The problems associated with the use of pesticides have been efficiently penned down by author Rachel Carlson in her book “Silent Spring”.
Another problem associated with water pollution is deforestation. Since trees hold the soil particles with their root system, they prevent landslides and thereby the deposition of mud, pebbles and other smaller particles in the water bodies. With rapid industrialization and uncontrolled urbanization, trees are felled off without proper planning. Illegal constructions in eco sensitive zones are being carried out. A very distressing incidence of Uttarakhand recently falling prey to the ire of nature is well known. It has killed thousands of people and destroyed property worth millions. Many pilgrims are still missing. The uprooting of plants made the soil prone to landslides. The natural calamity along with human activities wreaked havoc at a large scale. Taking lessons from such incidents, there should be regulation of massive construction in such eco sensitive regions and land use pattern should be considered.
To prevent the further deterioration of this vital resource, we must all pledge to render our services to save this precious source of livelihood by making small efforts like avoiding dumping wastes in water, not doing regular chores near the water bodies, by planting more trees and by creating more awareness regarding the importance and threats related to depletion of precious water resources.
Ms. Bhavika Sharma: A research Scholar at Himalayan Forest Research Institute (HFRI), Shimla specializing in the subject of Ecology and Environment. She did her masters in the field of Environment Science & her graduation in the field of Microbial and Food Technology from Panjab University, Chandigarh. She is currently working in field of air pollution and is a key member of an NGO operating in Himachal Pradesh. She likes to utilize her free time in writing on current issues related to environment.
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