Water covers around two-third of the earth’s surface. However, only around one percent of this water is accessible freshwater. The rest is either saltwater found in oceans or water trapped in glaciers. The ever-increasing population places even more pressure than before on the available sources of freshwater and some experts opine that freshwater would become increasingly scarce in the near future, and that people might even fight wars over water.
Until such time alternative sources of water like desalination or other schemes become popular, the need of the hour is to reduce consumption of water.
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
The government has a key role to play in limiting water consumption. Instead of handing over management of this vital natural resource to capitalistic forces, the government should play a pro-active role in water management. The aim of the government in the realm of water management should be to encourage conservation and punish waste.
The primary task of the government in water management should be to fix tariffs in such a way that excessive consumption is discouraged. The ideal way would be by fixing a nominal charge for the base quantity, which would be the average requirement for an individual or a household, and charge higher as the usage goes up.
Studies have proved that industries need to use only one-third of the water they current use even without changing their production processes. The onus is on the governments to draft effective legislations and implement the same towards this end.
Another area where the government can play an effective part is by ensuing the end users make optimal use of their water sources. The government can insist on technologies like rainwater harvesting or wastewater recycling before sanctioning building permits.
The government can also insist on adoption of new water saving gadgets like low capacity flush toilets and reducers on taps. They can provide tax exemptions to such items and conversely tax other water guzzling alternatives substantially.
Finally, the onus is on the government to ensue no wastage takes place through leaks in the main pipes, and plugging any leaks instantly.
ROLE OF NON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS (NGO’S) AND LARGE CORPORATIONS
The role of the NGO’s and large corporations in reducing consumption of water is underestimated.
Many people are not aware of the imminent water crisis, or even if they are aware, do not know how to reduce consumption of water. The primary aim of the NGO’s is to spread awareness.
NGO’s and large corporations can also play their mite by funding and popularizing research and development of new technologies that use lesser water.
ROLE OF INDIVIDUALS
Irrespective of the quantum of awareness, regulation, or deterrents, unless the individual actually reduces consumption of water, all strategies and plans would remain ineffective. The individual should have the concern in him to save water, and the inner voice should speak to use the minimum possible quantity of water. The individual should also realize that he has a primary role to play in water conservation. He should not consider the task as that of someone else.
There are several specific ways for the individual to save water. The specific ways are too many to list here, but the most common ways, relevant to most individuals would be:
1. Shut the tap tightly, and do not let the water drip out. If the water does drip out, call the plumber and get it fixed. One leaky tap can waste up to 20 gallons a day!
2. Check the pipelines for leaks periodically. Know where the valves are, to shut them off promptly in case of bursts
3. Turn off the tap when performing ablutions, when applying soap, when brushing teeth and the likes. More often that not the tap would remain open and water flow down the drain.
4. do not throw wastewater down the drain unless there is a gray water recycling facility available. Use such water plants, flush toilets or some other similar use.
5. Make sure the water goes only where it should be going. Take care to focus sprinklers on plants and not on pathways, and make sure your direct the horse properly when washing cars. Install a tap at the end of the horse instead of leaving the horse on while you walk all the way to turn off the tap.
6. Air-conditioning and heating dehumidifies the air. This burns more electricity, and thus more water. If nothing, adjust the temperatures by a degree or two and change filters regularly. This can result in huge savings of water without too much of an inconvenience.
7. Use full load for washing machines, dish cleaners and other gadgets that use water.
8. Install instant heaters, without waiting for water to get warm, both in showers and kitchens.
9. Use the microwave to defrost, instead of letting water run over the frozen object
10. Adopt technologies like laser beams to start and stop water flow from taps, power flush and double flush, and water reducers that reduce the quantity of water required but increase the pressure, thus maintaining the effect.
The individual can also consider changes to his lifestyle, by avoiding water-guzzling tubs and fountains, fish tanks and the likes, as appropriate.