Water Sources and Supply Management

Water is natural and is a god given gift to mankind for living. First, let us examine what are the resources? Rivers, Drinkable water lakes, ground water and rain. For better understanding we will refer to drinkable water as sweet water. Actually this water has less salinity and the salt content percentage is almost negligible. Sea water and salt water Lakes are not useful for drinking or irrigation. So everywhere sweet water is required. This is applicable for all the requirements of earth so to say all countries on earth. Deserts may not have any appreciable rainfall and no crops can be cultivated there. But miraculously there are drinking water ponds called Oasis. In the desert to help quench the thirst of passers-by.

I would like to focus on India regarding water management. We have obtained independence some six and half decades ago. But we are still dependent on the rain gods. Women from several rural villages walk daily on an average of about 20 kms to collect one pot of drinking water. In the scarce summer months even that becomes difficult. In the rainy season the rainfall at particular places is heavy and a lot of water flows down in the form of floods ultimately to the sea without any utilization, killing population and damaging property. Year after year we hear the same story. None of the political leaders who give eloquent speeches mentioned anything about supplying drinking water or electricity to rural villages.

Soon after independence the irrigation minister from Andhra Pradesh who was a qualified engineer worked under Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the Prime Minister then and suggested to link up all the rivers of India from North to South through Canals and Reservoirs that too in phases under the Five Year Plan. But  the advise was ruled out and today we stand perhaps a little better or same as we stood during independence time.

Water is required for drinking and irrigation purposes. While drinking water must be clean, filtered and fit for drinking the same is not the case for water meant for irrigation purposes. Gujarat, a state in India has perennial water problems in one portion of the state called Saurashtra. They have overcome this by rain water harvesting in their wells and the state of Gujarat has become an example for the entire country in conserving water.

Scientists long  back have come out with the proposal of water cycling, rain water harvesting, Check Dams and many other water saving  proposals.  But the implementation from Government of states and various municipalities is too slow. Only now we find Bombay Municipal Corporation is trying to implement rain water harvesting and water recycling for new buildings. The new buildings will be given OC when these two are in place.

Let me clarify about ground water. In many cities we find bore wells, the owner should keep on increasing the depth of the bore well year after year. This is due to sharing of increased number of people with the same quantum of water in that area. Potable water which we draw comes from the seepage of water from rivers, lakes, tanks, canals etc. If it is not potable and is semi-potable then it can at least be used for washing utensils, floors and other such things. If it is salty  it cannot be used at all so the clarification is Ground potable water is also limited in quantity and the earth can absorb only limited quantity of water as seepage. Affluent countries where water is scarce and not transported by pipeline convert sea water into potable water by a costly process (In Gulf countries).  The Governments of state and Muncipalities should implement water conversation fast by check dams, construction of reservoirs, preventive maintenance of valves, change of pipes and any new proposals in saving  in consumption for domestic and agricultural uses.

People also on their part should try to prevent leakages in their taps and also conserve water by not using it unnecessarily. Proposals given by Shri K N Rao six decades ago should be implemented to suit present times so that the available water is utilized to the maximum. Conservation of water should start from municipal Corporations of metro cities and they should make new rules for buildings to ensure that water is properly utilized. It is awful, the other day I was reading in the newspaper that Bombay wastes 30 per cent of water through leakages and illegal utilization. If this can be fully stopped or brought down then you can imagine the amount of extra water that will be available for proper use. The efforts have to be sincere by all concerned.

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