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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





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World could see 140mn climate migrants by 2050: Report

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions

climate change is happening at a quickened pace and thus leading to melting of huge ice bergs
climate change is happening at a quickened pace and thus leading to melting of huge ice bergs
  • Three regions can witness migration due to climate change
  • The regions also include South Asia
  • It is important to take measures to control climate change

Three densely populated regions of the world, including South Asia, could see internal climate migrants of over 140 million people in the next three decades if climate change impacts continue, a new World Bank Group report finds.

The report, “Groundswell — Preparing for Internal Climate Migration”, released on Monday, finds that unless urgent climate and development action is taken globally and nationally, the three regions — Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America — together could be dealing with tens of millions of internal climate migrants by 2050.

World can witness migration of many due to climate change. VOA
World can witness migration of many due to climate change. VOA

These people will be forced to move from increasingly non-viable areas of their countries due to growing problems like water scarcity, crop failure, sea-level rise and storm surges.

The “climate migrants” would be an addition to the millions of people already moving within their countries for economic, social, political or other reasons, the report warns. The exodus could create a looming humanitarian crisis and will threaten the development process.

Also Read: Climate change driving dramatic rise in sea levels: NASA

However, with concerted actions — including global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and robust development planning at the country level — this scenario could be dramatically reduced by up to 80 per cent or more than 100 million people.

The report is the first and most comprehensive study of its kind to focus on the nexus between slow-onset climate change impacts, internal migration patterns and, development in these three developing regions of the world.

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions. “We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality,” Georgieva said.

It is important to control climate change now.

“Steps cities take to cope with the upward trend of arrivals from rural areas and to improve opportunities for education, training and jobs will pay long-term dividends. It’s also important to help people make good decisions about whether to stay where they are or move to new locations where they are less vulnerable.”

The research team, led by World Bank Lead Environmental Specialist Kanta Kumari Rigaud, include researchers and modellers from CIESIN Columbia University, CUNY Institute of Demographic Research, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Also Read: Maharashtra’s climate action plan yielded disappointments

They applied a multi-dimensional modelling approach to estimate the potential scale of internal climate migration across the three regions. They looked at three potential climate change and development scenarios, comparing the most “pessimistic” (high greenhouse gas emissions and unequal development paths), to “climate-friendly” and “more inclusive development” scenarios in which climate and national development action increases in line with the challenge. Across each scenario, they applied demographic, socio-economic and climate impact data at a 14 grid-cell level to model likely shifts in population within countries.

This approach identified major “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration – areas from which people are expected to move and urban, peri-urban and rural areas to which people will try to move to build new lives and livelihoods. “Without the right planning and support, people migrating from rural areas into cities could be facing new and even more dangerous risks,” the report added. IANS