Our Ecosystems : Water

When pure, it is odorless and tasteless. It is the only substance that is found naturally in all three states. It's in your body, the food you eat and the beverages you drink. You use it to clean yourself, your clothes, your dishes, your car and everything else around you. Many of the products that you use every day either contain it or were manufactured using it. All forms of life need it and if they don't get enough of it, they die. Political disputes have centered around it. In some places, it's treasured and incredibly difficult to get. In others, it's incredibly easy to get and then wasted. It is an essential element to life on Earth. Our Blue planet's most of the surface is covered with lots of it.

Water... We have plenty of it. What if I tell you that we have limited water on our planet like petroleum. I shall thought to be a nut. But the fact is, Earth has less water than you think!

More than 97% of the water on the Earth is salt water. Remaining is categorized as fresh water; about 70% of which is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining unfrozen freshwater is found mainly as groundwater, with only a small fraction present above ground or in the air.

If you were to take all of the water on Earth - all of the fresh water, sea water, ground water, water vapour and water inside our bodies.. take all of it and somehow collect it into a single, giant sphere of liquid, how big do you think it would be?


According to the US Geological Survey, it would make a ball 1,400 km in diameter. That’s it. And this takes into consideration all the Earth’s water… even the stuff humans can’t drink or directly access, like salt water, water vapour in the atmosphere and the water locked up in the ice caps. If you were to take into consideration only the fresh water on Earth which accessible to humans, you’d get a much smaller sphere of about 56 km across..!

So there is small fraction of water, and we need water for almost everything we do. Agricultural, industrial, household, recreational, environmental activities etc...virtually all of these human uses require fresh water.

Thanks to rain, fresh water is a renewable resource. Yet the world's supply of clean, fresh water is steadily decreasing. Water demand already exceeds supply in many parts of the world and as the world population continues to rise, so does the water demand too.

Day-by-day demand keeps growing, further draining water sources, from great rivers to underground aquifers. We are going deeper & deeper into soil for groundwater, and that has very significant impacts for global water security. Groundwater resources have been heavily over-used worldwide. The rate of groundwater depletion has doubled in last 4 decades. Still we are pumping many of the aquifers out faster than they are recharged. Somehow, we need to bring withdrawals into balance with recharge.

Summer comes to India every year. Along with it comes water crisis. As our rivers start running dry a way before summer, Water is becoming a cause for social conflicts. Recently you might have noticed a survey in newspaper & media showing global water shortages that will be particularly felt in India and China. Rainfall patterns altered by climate change and worsened by inequity in the water distribution system has led to a water crisis in the Central India and many other parts. The poorest areas are being affected the most because of inequitable water distribution. If this isn't a wake-up call of what water scarcity can do to a society, may God bless us!

Is there any solution for these Water Wars..?

Rain, of course!

Water in rivers, lakes, ponds and wells, underground water, tap water & even bottled water..The source of all water is Rain.

Let us apply this understanding: in order to meet demand, then, what we actually need to do is harvest the rain. In India the monsoon is brief. We get about 100 hours of rain in a year. It is this 100-hour bounty that must be caught, stored and used over the 8,760 hours that make up a year.

But..

In urban areas, the construction of houses, societies, footpaths and roads has left very little exposed earth for water to seep in. In parts of the rural areas of India, floodwater quickly flows to the rivers, which then dry up soon after the rains stop. Furthermore, floodwater also cause erosion.

How to harvest Rain???

We have to catch water where it falls.

In the forests, water seeps gently into the ground due to roots of the trees. This groundwater in turn feeds wells, lakes, and rivers. Protecting forests means protecting water catchments. In ancient India, people believed (and the modern science has proved) that forests are the 'mothers' of rivers and must be worshipped the sources of these water bodies. Flora also prevent floods.

Planting of trees, grass and bushes breaks the force of rain and helps rainwater penetrate the soil. It slows down run-off and minimizes evaporation losses. Shelter belts of trees and bushes along the edge of agricultural fields can help water seep into the ground and recharge the groundwater supply. They also slow down the wind speed and reduce evaporation and erosion.

Implementation of Urban rain water harvesting systems has proved to be effective in recharging the aquifers. The CSE Water Campaign, when it looks into the future, sees only hope. From rain will come local food security. From rain will come biomass-wealth that will eradicate ecological poverty. From rain will come social harmony..!

Water is a precious resource, not a commodity. But we need to understand that every drop is important or someday, we will be forced to pay heavily for it...

5 comments:

  1. It is promising to see fresh ideas, of working with nature and making better use of rain.

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  2. Do you know anything about this? The website is dated 2008 - I wonder what progress they make??
    http://bhumivardaan.com/HimalayanInitative.html

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  3. I would like to get in touch with Dr Phalak . But there is no email id or telephone number or address on the website. Is it possible for us to get your email id or tele=phone number, dr phalak?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kripa, you can contact me at giftingtrees(at)gmail(dot)com

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