The previous blog on saving water was more focussed on what we as individuals can do. This is more focussed on what we can do as a community. Its based on success stories around our country and around the world. And as always, a lot of these ideas might seem counterintuitive.
1. Get Individual Water meter
Have you heard of the tragedy of the commons?. Well here’s a video from TED-Ed that explains it beautifully.
A lot of societies function as commons when it comes to water. There is one main water connection from the government filling a large sump. From there the water is distributed to everyone. Water bills are then split across total number of units in the society. Similarly for tankers. Water is brought in and dumped in one large sump and then at the end of the month it’s a simple calculation. Total cost divided by total number of flats or units.
This disincentivizes conservation for individuals. The frugal ones are subsidizing larger consumers. So why the hell should they be frugal. Everyone grabs the maximum they can when there is a shortage. Possibly depriving others of much-needed resources. Installing an individual meter for each unit incentivizes savings. You pay for what you use. This helps the frugal ones as they pay lower bills. And even the larger users are then incentivized to reduce consumption where they can. Harkening back to my view on measuring to manage. This also relates to your financial life. You have to measure your spending to be able to control it. Hmm, maybe that’s what ill write about next.
2. Start Rain Water Harvesting
There are several locations in the country that receive tons of rainfall. Our little piece of tropical heaven being one of them we receive a ton of rainfall in the monsoon. But effective collection and harvesting of rainwater is not only for areas like Goa. In fact, areas that receive lower amounts of precipitation benefit much more from rainwater harvesting. This can be as simple as getting a dry well dug and directing all rainwater into it so that the ground water is recharged. Or a complex system that cleans and stores rainwater so its available to you for use. The cost and utility of such systems may vary. For Areas that receive rainfall throughout the year will need a much smaller storage tank which may make it economically more lucrative. Whereas for areas such as Goa, where 9 months are dy. The storage tank infra will need to be too large to be practical. In either case. Ground water recharge measure need to be implemented by all. The added benefit of such systems, reduced runoff and hence stress on the storm water systems of our cities. Better availability of groundwater for everyone. Lower impact of soil erosion. Reduction in requirement of cleaning of drains.
3. Use your STP and Grey Water
Most large complexes nowadays are mandated to have a STP (Sewage treatment plant). A properly designed and working STP produces Grey water of a reasonable quality. When I say reasonable, I don’t mean drinking grade water. But water that can be used for other purposes. Flushing and Gardening are prime use candidates. Using grey water for flushing and gardening can reduce your water demand by over 50%. Yes that’s right imaging slashing the water bill of the society by 50%. This should bring tears of joy to each owner and the ire of the local tanker strongman.
4. Plant native species in your garden
Around 35 % of your water demand goes to your garden. A lot if it is wasted a due to inefficient watering practices. But another reason for such a high-water demand is our insistence on growing exotics, which are not suited for our weather. Simply choosing native fruit and flowering plants can help cut down on your water usage significantly. Additionally, the plants are acclimatised to our climate and can weather the weather better. So, less maintenance and hassle for you to manage. Additionally, there’s a higher likelihood of fruit plants actually providing health tasty nutritious fruit. Just as an example orange palnts don’t grow so well in Goa, mangoes do. Similarly, good luck trying to grow apples here, but bananas love our climate. Wait that’s not such a great argument for the next point I’m trying to make. Bananas are a water hungry cash crop. But you get the gist. We have loads of local fruits and flower trees that we no longer see. Replaced by visions fo gardens that look better suited to Europe rather than out rustic beauties. Ive stopped seeing people grow breadfruit, or ambadde, or toring, and the local limbe. Stop doing that. Keep our flora for future generations
5. Produce crops that are suited to your climate
The green revolution ensured India’s food safety. But the practices adopted back then and now ingrained to drive up production have now put us at the precipice of a water shortage. A large part of the success story of the green revolution was irrigation. But a lot of the irrigation has been through using pumps to pull water from aquifers that have been filled over the centuries. Secondly, we have been producing cash crops that are water hungry. Rice for e.g. And sugarcane are seriously water intensive. Yet the practice of growing these crops continues. Even in areas that are suited to cultivation of these crops we are giving up on traditional varieties. Leading to the use of additional fertilisers and pesticides. Polluting our water sources making them unusable. So if you’re a farmer see if its possible to grow local varieties that have less requirement of water.
6.Can this work?
Well all of this “gyan” has come from reading about success stories.
Here’s the story of a society in Bangalore that has used some of these methods and reduced their water requirements by over 50%.
Or this article explain how Maharashtra is looking at redefining crop patterns especially in areas of high water stress to better manage this resource.
Enough of ranting from my part for today. Hope you have a lovely and ponderous week ahead. What has your experience been with water? Have you faced shortages recently? What are you doing to conserve water? Share your stories with me in the comments section. And if you like this article share it to other people who can benefit from it.
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