Many groups have been working for water access to all as a human right, especially for the poor

Solutions to problems are best found at the lowest scale at which they can be solved. In a general air of pessimism and the gargantuan scales at which issues are pitched, it sometimes becomes difficult to see whether there is light at the end of the tunnel and if so is it on. Doomsday scenarios prevail with one for example stating that half of Bangalore will need to be evacuated in the coming years because of water shortage. The question is, does this rhetoric empower solutions?

One way cities and governments respond to such a public outcry of hopelessness is to set up a committee. Then the committee will turn around and usually suggest a solution which is in the range of tens of thousands of crores calling for waters from near and far to be sluiced to cities.

These solutions in turn will have proponents and opponents as the city starts to tread on others’ waters. It is at the same time important to break down the solutions and involve as many participants in that space as is possible starting from the individual. This not only results in the possibility of something achievable in the short run but also generates a better understanding of the water and scenario.

For example, a public campaign to replace all water-inefficient toilet flushes and to insist on water-efficient showers, taps and flushes for all new construction before a water connection is given should be a given but do our water utilities do it ? Can we reward those who have changed from being water profligate to becoming waterwise by just acknowledging their contribution publicly?

People have been doing magnificent work on rainwater harvesting right from an individual home to apartments to layout level works spanning tens of acres. While there is no fiscal incentive for such activities cannot the utility identify all of these and call them public champions and acknowledge their work?

Mini-Singapore

Wastewater recycling units have been installed in Bangalore at the highest rates for any city in India. Some have even gone to the extent of putting a R.O. plant after the wastewater treatment unit and putting back the water for potable use. A mini-Singapore certainly. Lake protection and restoration groups have been doing wonderful work for decades, from the legal to the environmental and ecological. A good city should stand by its citizens and say thank you to them.

Finally, many groups have been working solidly for access of water to all as a human right and especially for the poor. They are good water warriors too.

A city is as good as its citizens are and a just city cares for all including the environment. It is time that the State woke up to the fact that there is a softer side to water management but a more powerful one and that the army comprises every resident living. That would be water wisdom.