Importance of Water Conservation and Management
Water is a basic resource for our life and one of the most essential components of our planet Earth. It is used for drinking, cleaning, transportation, electricity generation, and industries. It is a cyclic resource and has an abundant supply, approximately, 71% surface of our planet is covered by water, but the portion of freshwater is only 3 percent of the total water. Also, water is distributed in such a way that only a small fraction of total freshwater available on the earth is useful for human consumption. Around 2.45% of the world’s surface area is in India whereas 4% of the world’s water resource is for India’s population. With the rapid growth in industrialization, modernization, urbanization, growing population, and agriculture the demand for water has been pushed up manifolds but the freshwater resources are in a limited quantity.
With the receding supply of fresh water and enhancing demand for water, there is a need to conserve and manage water for sustainable development. Water conservation and management include the policies, framework, and strategies to manage water effectively and efficiently. The importance of water conservation and management is that the basic ecological and life-sustaining system will function properly, drought effects will reduce, food production enhanced, sanitation improves, water conservation saves money, helps in maintaining global peace and geopolitical stability, promote recreational purposes, and many more.
Sources of Water Generation:
Water has different sources of generation and rainfall is the most important source of fresh water. India receives 4000km3 rainfall water in which South West Monsoon accounts for 3000km3, but the major problem is that a large part of freshwater is lost in process of evaporation and transpiration.
Due to the differences in topographical features and uneven distribution, the total water availability for humans is very less. According to the Central Water Commission, the total availability of fresh water from surface water and groundwater is about 1,869 cubic km and out of which only 60% i.e. 1,122 cubic km (691bcm surface water + 431bcm groundwater) can be used for beneficial purposes.
Irrigation consumes maximum water usage which is around 78% of the total water reserve of India. It is followed by the domestic sector which utilizes around 6% and the third-largest consumer is the industrial sector which uses 5% as per Press Information Bureau. According to National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development (NCIWRD), the irrigation sector will need additional water of 71bcm by 2025 as compared to the demands of 2010.
Ground Water fulfills the total demand of 45% of total irrigation and 80% of domestic water. It is the primary source of drinking water in cities as well as villages.
Water Shortage And Scarcity:
As per the 2011 census, per capita, water availability was 1567 cum year. But it is estimated that by 2050, with a population of 1.6 billion, the water availability will be reduced to 1140 cum.
In states like Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Tamilnadu overexploitation and overutilization of groundwater lead to water scarcity while in states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra semi-arid climatic conditions lead to water-stressed conditions. However, in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu poor aquifer properties lead to water scarcity.
Importance of Water Conservation and Management:
- Water as a resource: Freshwater is only three percent of the Earth’s water supply and only half a per cent of this 3% is available for human consumption according to UNICEF. Therefore we have a very limited supply of usable water. This supply comes from lakes, rivers, snow, and groundwater. Ocean Saltwater cannot be consumed, it needs desalination and which is a costly process. Hence, water conservation and management is the best available option that humans have, otherwise, we all have to face water shortage and crisis.
- Water conservation and management reduce drought and its effects: Arid areas experience drought regularly, as these regions are prone to water crises. If these regions have sufficient water and soil moisture, then the arid regions face fewer droughts. Water Conservation and management will alleviate the effects of droughts in these regions particularly. Check dams, contours and boulder bunds are some of the water conservation measures.
- Water Saves Money: As we know water is a limited and one of the most valuable resources on earth. It is required almost in all activities of daily life like cooking and washing. Water shortage makes the cost of water very high and which affects all sections of society. Through water conservation and management, excess spending on water can be saved. Educating the children regarding the judicious use of water is very essential for a better future.
- Water conservation and management help in environmental preservation: Water is a critical component almost in all biogeochemical processes. It maintains the ecological balance and provides the sustenance of life to different levels of organisms such as primary organisms, secondary organisms, etc. Failure of biogeochemical cycles fails the survival of organisms. As per United Nations, water utilization has been increasing with more than 200% the rate of population growth in the last 100year. Around 1.8 billion people will be in water-scarce regions by 2025, whereas two-thirds population of the world will be in water-stressed areas.
- Water conservation makes water available for recreational purposes: Freshwater resources help in beautifying our ambience. Water lawns, gardens, trees, swimming pools, flowers, golf courses, and public fountains add not only aesthetic value but are also good for tourism. According to Oxford Economics and WTTC, one job out of four jobs in the world is created in the Travel & Tourism sector i.e. about 10% of all global jobs (334 million) which accounts for around 10% of global GDP.
- Agriculture production: Agricultural production needs water consumption in huge amounts. To feed billion of population and also livestock, require millions of gallons of water every day. According to Central Water Commission, around Eighty-five per cent of total freshwater water in India was utilized by the agricultural sector in 2000, as water is required in almost every stage of food preparation. For future food security, water must be conserved and managed properly. Through efficient use of water in agriculture, water conservation and management practices will follow.
- Water conservation and management help in achieving the UN-SDG goal of Sanitation: Water is crucial for sanitation, hygiene, and waste management. Still, water is considered the most cost-effective component for the maintenance of hygiene and sanitation. According to UN-SDG, around 2.4 billion humans across the globe don’t have access to basic sanitation facilities like toilets/latrines. Through water conservation and management, sanitation facilities can be spread to people all over the world.
- For global peace and geopolitical stability: It is said that if there will be 3rd world war, it would be due to the water crisis, as no country can compromise on water shortage and as most of the rivers and lakes have multi-country flowage, there would be high chances for water-induced war. If every country and person conserves and manages water properly, then this situation can be handled properly.
- Water usage requires other resources: For in-house water supply, desalination for seawater, and cleaning of water require high inputs of energy. Production of this energy not only pollutes the environment but also creates energy shortages. Through water conservation and management, energy can be saved, the environment can be protected and global warming can be reduced.