World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ flagship programme to call for action to protect the environment. This year’s theme is Small Island Developing States in the broader context of climate change. To learn more, click here
Gren Clean Guide’s focus on this year’s environment day is water conservation. Water scarcity is a burning issue for perhaps each and every economy of the world. Water conservation however is ot given due importance given its free availability in most nations.
According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), there are on an average only 40 rainy days in India which means that there is a long dry period. India still being an agriculture based economy is still dependent on rain fed agriculture with irrigation potential not fully explored.
India however cannot be called a water scarce country though it is definitely a water stressed economy. Water conservation is the need of the hour in India. The main source of water in India is the Monsoon. But since the Monsoon winds are seasonal and affected by El Nino, surface runoff water needs to be conserved.
Ancient India is full of marvellous examples for the conservation of water. Some of these are-
Talabs or lakes which were used as reservoirs of waters. Could be natural or artificial. A talab of less than five bighas is known as a talai; of medium size is a bandhi and mammoth talabs are called sagar.
Johads which were prominent in Rajasthan. Basically an earthen check dam system.
Baoris or bers were used for drinking water supplies, it is a well.
Jhalaras were artificial tanks found mainly in Gujarata and Rajasthan.
Kunds were underground tank systems, most famous is perhaps one in Vrindavan.
We will now discuss some of the strategies for conservation of water that do not require expertise-
Water Reservoirs- storage of water by means of water reservoirs is perhaps the time tested and ancient method of water conservation. Many techniques can be employed for conserving rain water. Contour farming makes use of water conservation by limiting the rate of surface runoff which in turn helps the water to percolate into the soil rather than simply wash off.
Groundwater conservation- most reliable source of water and is also uncontaminated source of water, with a bit of treatment, it can even be used for direct human consumption. Approximately, 45 mhan (million hectares meters) percolates as ground water in India out of a total of 4000 BCM (billion cubic meters) rainfall that India receives. Percolation tank method, Catchment area protection (CAP), Inter-basin transfer of water, adoption of drip irrigation etc are some strategies that are frequently employed.
Water Recycling – wastewater from industrial or domestic sources can be treated for reuse in irrigation, for recharging ground water and for industrial use.
Conservation of water in domestic scenario- perhaps the most ignored area is the household where water is liberally wasted. Some simple strategies can be employed to prevent water misuse and wastage. Leakage prevention is a must, switching off taps when not in use, low flush toilets (for a normal toilet, simply fill a waterproof bag with sand or brick and keep it inside the reservoir to reduce the amount of water used in each flush cycle), bio toilets, bowls to wash vegetables, dishes instead of using sinks, recycle water for watering plants, mulching, use a glass or tumbler for brushing teeth (this was taught to me by a Chinese fellow when I was abroad. Using tap water while brushing not only wastes water, it is more convenient when you use a tumbler or glass), do the same for shaving.