By Dr Sunder Ram Korivi
The water-diamond paradox is well known to students of economics. Diamonds are precious because they are rare, but water is not considered worth buying because it is available free. Yet, all of us know that it is impossible to live without water, and diamonds can be given a miss.It is a trick of the market on the mind.
We seldom care to conserve water and even misuse it. Yet, during times of acute need, we pay for a bottle of water. It takes
a crisis of epic proportions to realize the true value of water. From a societal angle, there is a crying need to recognize that water is not to be wasted merely because it is free. Nor should it be considered demeaning to collect free rainwater indigenously in buckets or bottles. This mindset needs to be broken, for the sheer good it can do to mankind.
Year after year, Mumbai has witnessed torrential rains and floods, and in the aftermath, a shortage of drinking water! What is more shocking than this is, nothing seems to be done.
School students are being educated with lessons on first aid and disaster relief management. A similar exercise needs to be carried out the field of water management, which holistically encompasses water harvesting, water conservation and responsible usage. Man has made great strides in mining for fossil fuels. But much more needs to be done, especially in the field of water management.
With growing pressure on population and the fears of global warming, water management gains importance, but seldom gets appropriate attention of the policy makers and even the educated public, merely because it is either considered free or its conservation is viewed as somebody else’s problem.
While much is being done on the supply side through the development of reservoirs and distribution systems, effort also needs to be taken on demand management. No one bothers to harness rainwater carefully because that is viewed as the job of the water department of a municipal corporation.
Water Management measures in a few easy practical steps:
- Make use of celebrities to encourage indigenous water harvesting (in buckets, bottles, drums). This is in the same vein as celebrities being used to spread awareness of the pulse polio campaign, aids awareness, etc.
- Focus on elimination of waste at homes and restaurants. In restaurants, glasses of water are filled needlessly and water is often thrown away after one sip is taken from a glass. This needs to be taken up with the Association of Hotels & Restaurants. Even at homes, one must close taps having running waterwhen not required.
- Adopt use of paper plates for large functions to obviate the need for washing.
- Break the myth that rainwater harvesting is an elaborate and expensive exercise. Simple steps like opening the hatches of the tank in the society compound to catch rain water will help. To filter dust particles, the mouth to these tanks can be covered by a metal wire mesh. In this manner, as more water is directed towards storage, lesser will move out to flood roads and drains. Builders and plumbers can be educated on this simple technique. A housing society in Dombivli has already harnessed water in earlier years. Hence, a small beginning has been made.
The monsoons are already upon us. Let us all begin in earnest, this time onwards.