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

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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.

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NASA Invented A Tool To Predict Floods Due To Ice Melt

It looks at the Earth's spin and gravitational effects to predict water "redistribution"

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NASA's stunning footage of Cassini lands Emmy nomination
NASA's stunning footage of Cassini lands Emmy nomination. Pixabay

NASA scientists have developed a tool to forecast which cities are vulnerbale to flooding due to melting of ice in a warming climate.

It looks at the Earth’s spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be “redistributed” globally, BBC reported.

“This provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets, (and) ice caps are of specific importance,” the researchers were quoted as saying.

The research, detailed in the journal Science Advances, could provide scientists a way to determine which ice sheets they should be “most worried about”.

The researchers explained that as land ice is lost to the oceans, both the Earth’s gravitational and rotational potentials are perturbed, resulting in strong spatial patterns in sea-level rise (SLR). The pattern of sea-level change has been termed sea-level fingerprints.

“We lack robust forecasting models for future ice changes, which diminishes our ability to use these fingerprints to accurately predict local sea-level (LSL) changes,” the researchers said.

So they set out to determine the exact gradient of sea-level fingerprints with respect to local variations in the ice thickness of all of the world’s ice drainage systems.

NASA
NASA, Flickr

“By exhaustively mapping these fingerprint gradients, we form a new diagnosis tool, henceforth referred to as gradient fingerprint mapping (GFM), that readily allows for improved assessments of future coastal inundation or emergence,” the study said.

The researchers demonstrated that for Antarctica and Greenland, changes in the predictions of inundation at major port cities depend on the location of the drainage system.

For example, in London, local sea-level changes is significantly affected by changes on the western part of the Greenland ice sheet, whereas in New York, such changes are greatly sensitive to changes in the northeastern portions of the ice sheet, the tool showed. (IANS)