March 22, 2018

The worth of water

"World sparrow day, can you believe that?!!" my friend exclaimed, rolling her eyes.
We were at our regular haunt to grab a quick lunch when she casually flipped out her phone for a random social network check.
On scrolling through the trending topics on Twitter, this unique hashtag had caught her attention.
"Anything becomes a social trend these days," I agreed.

Now who would have thought such a common bird like the house sparrow would have an entire day assigned to it. It wasn't like it was the Hawaiian Crow or Spix's Macaw, was it? After all, we were talking about the communally roosting, group nesting, ubiquitous house sparrow.

However, our curiosity got the better of us and we proceeded to click on the links listed under the topic, only to be astounded at what was written.
"What if this is as serious as it sounds?" we gasped.

The articles pointed out that the house sparrow is at a risk of extinction. A group of ornithologists confirmed that this is because of the pollution, emergence of rapidly increasing phone towers in cities, increasing use of pesticides as responsible factors. The harmless little sparrows find it difficult to procure their food (indiscriminate use of pesticides kill insects and worms in the soil) and water (due to drying up of water bodies because of climate changes), thereby resulting in a drastic reduction in their number.
It was shocking to read how industrialisation and modernisation is gradually depleting us of our natural resources, and how it is gradually destroying our environment by depleting our flora and fauna.
Be it the house sparrow or the northern white rhino, the world is facing a major crisis. And we have only ourselves to blame for it.

Consider the most basic and important of our natural resources, water.
"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." 
~ Loren Eisely 

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the irony of it?  Two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered with water. 75% of our body is made up of it.
We depend on water for agriculture, energy, manufacturing of electricity, transportation of goods etc. It keeps our communities healthy, our cities running and our economy growing. Directly or indirectly, it forms the mainstay of our existence, a crucial element for a sustainable future.
And despite all this, it is one of the most undervalued commodities in today's age and time.

We have screaming headlines constantly reminding us about how our country is at risk of water shortage. People in remote villages have to walk long distances in order to collect as much as a bucket full of water. To top it, factors like scanty and unpredictable rainfall, extremes in temperature due to global warming causes failure of crops that are responsible for a harrowing number of farmer suicides in rural areas. This is the kind of bleak reality faced in the rural areas of our country.

Factors responsible for this deplorable situation include:

  • Deforestation - Destroying forests adversely affects rain and in turn causes global warming, drying up of lakes and rivers, and depletion if water resources.
  • Industrialisation
  • Pollution - renders water unsafe and toxic for consumption.
  • Most importantly, undue wastage of water: 
Walk down any local street, and you are sure to find at least one public tap running open and unattended. Holi, no matter how much we nag of its disastrous downside on social media, is celebrated with great pomp and ardor throughout the country. Nobody stops to think twice about the wastage of water during this festival.
Getting late to office, we forget to double check the tap that is dripping.
Getting ready for a date, we spend that extra half an hour for a leisurely shower that could have been done with in fifteen minutes.

Little do we realise then the harm these tiny acts are causing us in the larger scheme of things. But it is high time we stop taking this elixir of life for granted. After all, don't they say, it is never too late to bring about a good change?
It is for this very reason that Livpure has introduced a brilliant ideology, 'Cutting Paani' to help us become more mindful of the way we consume water. Based on the concept of Mumbai's cutting chai, it is a sensitive initiative by Livpure to save water by asking for #CuttingPaani, i.e only half a glass of water, so that the other half (that would otherwise go wasted) can be saved, thus creating a positive impact in the future of water management.

Role of the Government:
The Government has also come up with policies like the National Water Policy, National water mission, Mission for Clean Ganga, and Bharat Nirman Yojana providing safe drinking water in under-developed areas to ensure some relief from the water problems faced by the common man.
But this is not enough. It is only when every individual takes it upon himself to save this invaluable commodity by practicing water conservation, that real change will be possible. Only then, can we make the future healthy, safe, and happy for our future generations.
Read the inspiring story of Chewang Norphel, fondly known as 'The Ice Man of India', who with his determined efforts made a huge difference in the history of water conservation and set an example for all of us to follow.

Here is a simple list of do's and dont's that we need to practice and promote in order to conserve water...

  • Do not leave the tap on while brushing your teeth. This is a common habit mostly in children and should be discouraged.
  • Ensure that there are no dripping faucets and taps in the house. If there are, get them fixed immediately. A man worthy of mention here is Mumbai based  octogenarian Aabid Surti for his undying spirit to solve the water crisis.
  • Collect all the water left over in bottles and glasses around the house. Instead of draining it in the sink, put it to good use. Use it to water your plants, or pour it all in a bowl for your pets or visiting birds.
  • Wash your car with water from a bucket or waterless car wash (spray on and wipe off)  instead of a running hose pipe. Although more convenient, the latter results in much greater wastage than the former.
  • Bathing with a mug and bucket helps you stay in check of the amount of water you are using, as opposed to using a shower head. Besides the former is a healthy practice as it involves patience and exercise. (Installing low-flow shower heads also helps cut down water wastage)
  • Do not promote distribution of packaged water bottles at events and functions, as this is how there is maximum wastage. Instead, install a filter whereby guests can help themselves to as much water as they want, thereby reducing wastage.
  • In restaurants, insist on pouring the water in your glass yourself. Or you could ask for Cutting Paani. That way you can monitor how much water you need and thus avoid wastage.
  • Last but not the least, do not forget to pass on this knowledge and awareness to your children as well. Teach them to value and respect our environment and natural resources. Lead by example. It is only when we become the change that we can inspire the change.

Besides these tiny efforts on our part, we can also incorporate some major water conservation practices like-

Water harvesting -This practice makes use of rain water. And works on the principle of infiltration and percolation.
However, this concept of groundwater recharging to is dependent on a number of factors like amount of rainfall nature of soil, landscaping, vegetation cover etc

Houses that collect the rain water from the roof and send it through pipelines to a built-in underground rain water tank from where it can be utilized for domestic purposes.

On a larger industrial level, the employment of waste water plants that adequately treat and recycle the water, thus aiding in conservation.

Soil conservation techniques, improvement in livestock management, judicial use of water for agriculture, improved irrigation facilities are other areas that need to be looked into.

All these initiatives can create a huge difference in the endeavor of water management. And can help us solve the water crisis in an effective manner.

So think no more. Lets save water every chance we get. And let it save us in turn...

As Sylvia Earl rightly said, 
"No water, no life. No blue, no green."

On the occasion of World Water Day, let us pledge to safeguard water and develop the habit of conserving, reusing and recycling..

I have signed the petition by Livpure and sealed the deal.  Have you?

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