All life on this planet is possible due to the presence of one important element – Water. It covers nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface, and there’s more of it below the surface. Then there’s water vapor. Also, the bodies of all plants and animals (including humans) contain water.
Sources of Water
So where does the water we need and use come from?
- Rain – Rain is a major source of fresh water. It is the condensed form of the water vapor in our atmosphere. Rain water collects on the earth to form our surface sources and ground sources.
- Surface Sources – Water that we can see on the surface of the earth like lakes, reservoirs, streams, seas, irrigation canals etc. are surface sources. They are generally formed due to rains or melting of snow.
- Ground Sources – Water that is found underground. Springs, wells, infiltration wells are sources that have to be dug out.
- Desalination – A man-made process by which sea water is converted to fresh water. It’s quite an expensive process! The most common processes used for desalination are ‘distillation’ and ‘reverse osmosis’
Where is water used?
Water is used by us in nearly everything that we do. We can broadly categorize our use of water as follows:
- Agricultural – Water used to grow the food we consume. It accounts for 70% of the overall usage of water. Did you know that it takes around 800 gallons of water to satisfy one person’s daily dietary needs?
- Industrial – Water used to produce the goods and services we use. This includes all our manufacturing units, oil refineries, packaging and shipping companies and power plants. Around 22% of the overall water usage is attributed to the industrial sector.
- Household – Water used for household purposes like drinking, cooking, bathing, flushing toilets, laundry, cleaning etc. It accounts for around 8% of the overall water usage.
- Recreation – Water used for recreational purposes like swimming pools, water parks, boating etc.
- Environmental – Water that is stored and used for environmental purposes like aquatic life breeding, creating artificial wetlands etc. It accounts for a small but growing percentage of total water use.
What is water footprint?
Water footprint is the amount of fresh water used by us for various purposes. It can be quantified by the calculating the number of liters or gallons of water required by a person on a daily basis. So this includes all the water used to produce the food, goods and services used by us on a daily basis. Studies show that the domestic water consumption of people in developed countries is about 6 times more than that of people in developing countries!
The global water footprint is steadily on the rise. With the growing population, it is expected to increase by another 25% by 2030. Unless we take steps to reduce our water footprint, we may sooner rather than later start facing water shortage.
We need to understand that water is a precious resource and as such needs to be used judiciously in order to prevent its depletion. Water Resource Management refers to the conscious efforts taken by us to keep a check on the amount of water we use on a daily basis.
How can we conserve water?
Fortunately, saving water isn’t a difficult thing to do. To conserve water, we need to make conscious choices on a consistent basis.
There are several things that we can do to conserve water. Some of them are –
1. Shorter Showers and Baths – Reducing your showers and baths by just 5 minutes can help save millions of gallons of water! Also, showers use up more water than baths (as long as it’s under 10 minutes). Bucket baths are the best way to reduce the use of water!
2. Fix leaking taps and faucets – Leaking taps and faucets are one of the major sources of water wastage. Even a single leaking tap can cause wastage of more than 5 gallons of water a day!
3. Use water-efficient fixtures – Always opt for “water sense” labeled fixtures.
- Water efficient toilets – Water efficient toilets use less water for flushing. They can help save up to 200 gallons of water per day! We could also opt for dual flush toilets which have a half flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste.
- Water efficient Shower-head – Water-efficient shower-heads can help save up to 3000 gallons of water per month!
- Water-efficient washing machines and dishwashers – Water efficient appliances can help save several thousands of gallons of water per household per month.
4. Turn off taps when not needed – Many of us leave the taps running while brushing our teeth, or shaving or scrubbing dishes. Simply turning the tap off at these times can save more than 200 gallons per month per person!
5. Reusing, Recycling and Recirculating Water –There are many simple ways to reuse water without compromising on hygiene, such as –
- Collecting the water used to wash fruits and vegetables and use it to water plants.
- Collecting rain water in barrels or drums and using it to water plants and gardens.
- Using water from one application like municipal waste water treatment for another beneficial application such as landscape watering.
- Using recirculating pumps for swimming pools, fountains and ponds.
What is being done world wide to conserve water?
Internationally, there are many initiatives to protect this precious resource, by organizations like the UN, savewater.org, charity:water etc.
One such movement is the “World Water Monitoring Day” An initiative by America’s Clean Water Foundation, water monitoring refers to studying the conditions of various water bodies around the world in an effort to encourage the public to protect these resources. It is usually undertaken by the local ministries of water resources. The water bodies are tested for quality on the basis of the intended uses of the water body to the areas surrounding it.
So now we’ve seen the importance of saving water. And given that the measures to be taken are simple, let us all do our bit to ensure that in generations to come, water remains an easily available resource. Remember, every drop counts!
More Info : Watch our video to know Where does Rain come from!