Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Harvesting rainwater may solve some of India’s water problems

Water is going to be the next world crisis. Long before the world runs out of food, or fuel, human beings will run out of clean usable water. With growing consumption, due to increasing penetration and population, the day when the world’s sweet water runs out is fast approaching.

In fact, most experts agree that water is a zero sum game. If you run out, you can only do one of a few things about it. You can reduce your consumption, which is impossible; you can increase your supply, which isn’t realistic either; you can steal some; or you can find new sources. In fact, the third option here is the one most countries are likely to take. As a result, the third world war, if it ever happens, is probably going to be over water.

You can already see that happening on a small scale with water disputes between nations, as well as between states within India. It doesn’t take too much of a leap in imagination to see how this can escalate into a global issue. And with the way people waste water, and the way industries and cities are polluting water sources, rivers, lakes, groundwater, the crisis is closer than you may think.

Makes you wonder why more people, and governments, don’t think about option four, finding new sources. Agreed that it is not as simple as it sounds, it isn’t impossible either. Consider the option of harvesting rainwater. In a tropical country like India, where you have as much as three months of monsoons every year, with amazingly heavy rains during the season, this could be a viable alternative source for water. Even in countries further north, which receive less rains but a lot more snow, catching and storing the snow may be a possible way of augmenting fresh water supplies.

Recently some noises are being made, in the circles where decisions are made, about making it mandatory for a building to have rainwater harvesting facilities before allotting permissions and licenses for new construction. However, no such rules are in place as of now, and every year hundreds of millions of gallons of water are being wasted as runoff. If even a fraction of this water could be caught, filtered and stored, it could make a huge difference. After all, even if you didn’t want to drink the harvested water, it could be used for other needs, in the bathrooms, for washing up, gardening, and so on.

It’s actually surprising that more people don’t harvest. It doesn’t really cost all that much, especially if incorporated at the construction stage. In al older building or house, it might cost a little more to set up the funnel, strainer, tank equipment, but it makes sense in the long run, especially if you consider the water shortages most Indian cities face almost every summer. So, why this resistance to change? Think about the idea, for your own convenience, if not as responsible citizens. It works, it doesn’t cost very much, and it is greatly useful in the long run!

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