Water conservation: Lessons India can learn from California and St Kitts



By Gaurav Sharma

With an exploding population, more water is being used up in agricultural activities than ever before. The rapid industrialization means that water is not being used just for drinking but for myriads of other purposes too.

Revered rivers such as Ganga and Yamuna have become dumping grounds for industrial effluents and human discharge. The utter apathy with which we have treated the water bodies of the country has reduced them from the pedestal of divinity to a specter of deplorable isolation.

According to a report published by BAIF Development Research Foundation, “Most of the Indian states will reach the water stress condition by 2020 and water scarcity condition by 2025.”

The UN report on Water Conservation also presents a dark picture. The study says that 65% of rainwater goes into the sea due to lack of proper conservation techniques.  Also, 90 % of waste water discharged in rivers fails to meet environmental norms.

What can California and St Kitts tell us?

Here, much can be learnt by the initiatives undertaken by other countries when it comes to preserving the most precious resource of mankind. The Caribbean nation of St Kitts has introduced some novel water conservation measures. These include highlighting consumer responsibilities such as respecting signage and rules established by the Water services department, reporting incidents of misuse and abuse of water, creating awareness of reusing water, propagating use of water saving devices among other things.

Such simple measures can be easily adopted in India. Beside the enforcement of clear-cut rules and regulations, people should be made more aware of the need to conserve water. The dire situation in which we find ourselves should be brought to light in no uncertain terms.

In California, every city and district with more than 3000 connections has been given a mandatory water conservation target ranging from 8 to 36 per cent, based on per capita use for the previous year.

Moreover, by rewarding communities that preserve water and burdening through fines those who consume water disproportionately, the government has been more proactive, not only in forcing people to adhere to water laws, but in transforming their outlook towards water as a precious natural resource.

Why water matters