No Water, No Life

Two things compelled me to write about Water.

A) I am working with a client (an Ngo) WOTR who do pioneering work in water harvesting. During my course of work I had a meeting with Shekhar Kapur who shared so much information and passion on this subject that it compelled me to think deeper and search for more answers.

B) After viewing Quantum of Solace I was stunned to realize Bolivia was held to ransom in real life by USA when 70% of Bolivia’s water supply was stolen by USA - a basic resource that belonged to Bolivia was controlled by USA and then resold to the Bolivians at a price the locals could not buy! This resulted in poverty, death and further erosion of life.

Water is today’s oil. If not more precious! Just as many wars have been fought for oil, many wars will be (and have been) fought over water!! But unlike the battles braved by American soldiers to keep SUVs humming on US highways, these clashes come at the price of something far more precious - the basic necessities of life. According to one estimate, there are over 1.2 billion people on this planet without access to potable water. So why is the situation only getting worse? Seems like the key word is ‘privatization’, and those contracted to solve the problem are the only folks, who will financially benefit from the same, adding to the misery of the masses across the globe

All humans have the “right” to water. Not to bottled water. Not to high priced, frequently unavailable water, but pure, clean, easy to obtain, and inexpensive drinking water. Let this be a wake-up call to those who take such issues for granted. Water is no more a given. How many people who run the faucet as they brush their teeth, think that they are actually wasting the equivalent of a whole South African town’s weekly supply? When we pick up that bottle of Kinley or Himalayan or Evian, do we really understand that in some South American countries people would kill for such a source?

We can put down this hurtling disaster of nature, as an anecdotal incidence today and carry on with our lives and allow the maids to leave the tap running while they chat with us, or waste the rain water that flows into our cities without harvesting it meaningfully, or not teach the kids in school how important a resource water is and help preserve and conserve it to ensure that the water tables don’t run dry, not create enough sustainable incomes in villages to stop migrants from seeking big city employment for an earning thereby putting more pressure on already fast depleting resource like water! Else we can wake up and take cognizance of the crunch and help in a small but meaningful way. I know of 2-3 people in Bombay who have already looked 15 years hence and have created under ground storage tanks to harvest rain water when lakes run dry eventually, so that they are self reliant and not shelling pots of money to buy water then

Indeed, some believe that, just like during other times of crisis, an informed outside constituency will rise up to rectify what commerce and corruption has shattered.

For that fact alone, we need to conserve and preserve water and not let our taps run dry. I know it is a tired rhetoric but soon will become a reality if we don’t wake up to the dangers.Conserve. Preserve. Water IS life.


Anon said...

How Apt is the title! I wish the public would soon be educated about this peril. its the biggest danger by far staring mankind today. Pradia

ashish said...

Bolivia, Africa, Detroit and I wonder how many more are waiting in the wings to happen!! Political clashes over dams and water rights and proposed that one day wars would be fought that have water as a key reason for the conflict. Can this be avoided? Should this be avoided? Are we doing anything to avoid it?!

Jim said...

It is compelling I think that most people think that water just comes out of the taps and that is that – this is evidenced by the uproar in the UK at the slightest suggestion that houses should get water meters and pay per unit or that hosepipes to water gardens with drinking water would be banned at the height of summer!I mean we are talking about a literate educated civilization here- how will the developing world handle this?!

sanjiv said...

Water is important and we have to take care of it. View this link it tells you how important!


sheila said...

Air and water both basic substances for human survival and if we are talking about them depleting, I mean what is left of life then?

gita said...

Imagine 10 billion people picking up a glass of water at the same time and drinking it. While the world does not have a population of 10 billion yet, in a few years time it is expected to reach that mark and may well be facing a water crises. Director Sanjeev Chatterjee’s film, One Water, highlights the problems that will face the world when the supply of fresh water dries up. I sincerely hope and pray that we can and will create a movement where public and governement will together work towards conserving this finite resource for generations to come!

Shvetal said...

Can't agree more... we need a social movement on this one.

Anon said...

India has a completely irrational groundwater management policy, where, if you have the means and the resources, you can extract as much groundwater as you like and you can use this water which you essentially pump up for free -- it's unmetered -- to manufacture products which you can sell for a high price, whether it's bottled water, whether it's a beverage, whether it's industry ( and I refer to cocacola here who seem to be plundering!!)

And, you know, this is something which the Indian policymakers have simply not bothered to formulate a cohesive strategy to deal with. Time the machinery pulled its weight soon. V.

Mike said...

The Energy and Resources Institute in its recent report has criticized Coca-Cola in India. The findings say that the company is responsible for contributing to further depletion of community water resources in already water scarce regions. It says at least one of the bottling plants should be either closed or relocated.

Citing widespread water shortages being experienced by villages around the Coca-Cola bottling plant, the recent report by TERI recommends that the bottling plant should find alternative sources of water, which TERI said could be quite a distance away (and therefore not practical), or relocate or shut down the plant altogether.

In my half baked knowledge and opinion isn't it clear that water stressed areas must be left well alone and not tampered with? I think Govt must take onus and put action to words and stop the tampering immediately. Drastic future consequences need drastic actions today. and Immediately!

john said...

Depleting water resources is a global concern today. The rising temperatures have compounded the problem today by altering the precipitation mix. And we as a society are way too slow to respond to these alarming threats.

I think it was David Hopkins who said - Many Americans see terrorism as the principal threat to security but for much of humanity, the effect of water shortages and rising temperatures on food security are far more important issues,for the 3 billion people who live on 2 dollars a day or less and who spend up to 70% of their income on food, even a modest rise in food prices can quickly become life-threatening. For them it is the next meal that is the overriding concern.

This kind of puts a perspective on where we are headed if the World doesn't rise to save the planet

Raj said...

Closer home we have witnessed terrible rioting over Cauvery waters betweeb TN & Bglr, Vajpayee has called for the meetings between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Pondicherry and Kerala over distress-sharing of the Cauvery waters some yrs ago. We know water resources have become a global concern. THe need of the hour is to emphasise the need to end the indiscriminate exploitation of ground water and it has to be legislated!

Shweta said...

Gulf countries depend largely on desalinized water for drinking purposes. Desalinated water is even used in agriculture and various industries. Saudi Arabia alone desalinizes about three million tons of seawater daily.

The lack of fresh water flowing in the Gulf seas to balance the build up saline water and partially offset water pollution levels poses a problem for desalinization.

This water (from the Gulf seas) could soon become unsuitable for desalinization. Since desalinization stations treat both saline and polluted water, increasing levels of both may render seawater untreatable seven years from now.

And the desalination process also increases the level of salinity

Its a double whammy when you juxtapose this with the fresh water problems you have written on. Not a happy future at all if some stern action is not taken immediately.

melinda said...

saving water for the future is our responsibility today.

Temporary abundance of water like heavy rainfalls and flooding in Bombay is really just another contradiction. We live in a a warped natural world where humans have interfered too much with ecology already! We are veering towards living in a desert, where droughts are common, yet we plant lush lawns and grow thirsty crops. Our population is growing in areas where our water supply is not. So we build dams and canals to import water in order to keep it cheap and fuel more growth.

Conservation should come naturally. Yet it doesn't. The urge to conserve seems to fade with the latest rain shower.

In the end, conserving water has little to do with drought or floods and everything to do with protecting a finite resource. It is not about making sacrifices. It's about eliminating waste. It's about saving our community's lifeblood for tomorrow.

Conserving water is something we should do because we're responsible dwellers.

Sonu said...

Educating in schools in not helping too much...I can say that for a fact cuz I have seen a sample of three kids who are not influenced by it at all. I wonder about the remaining bunch in the class...Maybe it is the way they are being 'taught' about it. Are the parents at home conscious enough? Debatable if we're judging it by what they've passed on to the kids...

Anyway, that's kids. A relative who's recently moved into a palatial house replete with all modern day amenities (thanks to an architect son in Dubai) in a water-starved part of Gujarat does not have any set-up for rain -water harvesting! He does call for a tanker of water once a week.

This leads me to agree with your thought: not too many people are seeing water shortage as a real threat. But why should they? The tendency to equate something with it's monetary value makes water less important than a lot of other things. The water tax we pay is close to nothing, maybe if we were charged for water per unit the way we are charged for electricity, SOME consciousness would creep in.

Albert said...

'Population Control' at the heart of the issue. The rest is survival of the fittest. Humanity is regressing. Albert

Vivek said...

Dear Maám
Have enjoyed reading so many of ur all new posts!!! Had to stop at this one just like i did for Malaysia on Travelbytes...two days after we all met at Prithvi, (spoke of water) I got a project to do with water conservation in Malaysia...the next day TOI 1st page story says water shortage to hit my Mumbai west address too...an hour later someone retorts to that saying the very cause of water we are fighting for will be the killer of most places coz of flooding :) ... i guess will have to beleive Ayn Rand atleast for once...that the human spirit is so strong...that when earth is not livable we will be on some other planet... personally i've had enough !! heading for an illogical drinkin session at a local bar :) dispassionately thinkin...this is an important fight and our daily responsibility---to respect clean water--i'm v strict about it at home! especially after the time we met at Prithvi!