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Jun 20, 2010

Seventeen percent of the world’s human population is in India. Yet, the country has to manage with just 4 percent of freshwater available globally. According to the National Commission for Irrigated Water Resource Development of India, the water shortage problem we face arises not due to lack of it, but due to wastage and poor management.

Drink enough water and stay healthy! Remember to finish your glass of water!

In fact, the freshwater problem has led experts to predict that some of the most densely populated Indian cities will be uninhabitable in a couple of decade’s time. The only way we can prevent this catastrophe from befalling us is by mending our ways. Here are a few water wastage facts that we should keep in mind.
You’ll be shocked to find out that as much as 50% of fresh water is wasted in the country as a result of leakages and inefficiencies in the water management system!

While India receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon months (annual precipitation level that’s second only to South America), less than 36% of this water is utilized due to storage limitations.

65% rainwater runoff ends up in the sea due to lack of storage facilities.

  1. Significant amounts of freshwater is used for irrigation, yet the efficiency with which water is used in this sector is lower than 35%.
  2. When it comes to waste water being discharged into rivers and other sources of freshwater, 90% of it does not meet the safety norms.
  3. More than 70% of the freshwater available to us in the form of ground water and surface water is contaminated.
  4. Thermal and nuclear power plants require huge quantities of freshwater for power generation. But most of them don’t disclose the amount of water that’s utilised.
  5. You’ll be shocked to hear that Kolkata wastes 50% of the water that it receives!
  6. Bangalore, which is the third most populous city in the country, comes a close second at 49%. The wasted water is unaccounted for, which is even worse.
  7. Water wastage figures in New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai stand at 26%, 20%, and 18% respectively.

While these numbers can make us feel sad, that’s not enough. We have to act now to save the future. Change can begin with small measures such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, fixing leaks, using low discharge toilets and faucets, running dish and laundry cleaners on full load, etc.

Conserving rainwater can make a huge difference as well. And more importantly, it can reduce our dependency on groundwater, which is already under a lot of stress.

On a larger scale, we should take measures to educate farmers about efficient irrigation practices. Industries should become more responsible with their water usage as well as the discharge of waste water (i.e., it should be treated before being released back into rivers.

Last but not the least, setting up desalination plants to utilise sea water can significantly reduce our freshwater issues.

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