Tomorrow is World Water Day. Experts offer simple solutions to conserve water.

It is not that we are not aware of the problem. Only that we simply do not care. We believe water is our inherent right, a perennial resource. With every passing year, the city, its satellite towns and even some of the water-rich villages around, have begun to feel the pinch of water shortage. And the pinch is set to become more painful.

Water is the past and future of a civilisation. There are no substitutes; it is the very essence on which life sustains. Lack of potable water may be a global issue with overwhelming implications. But are we really doing our bit in conserving this priceless resource?

When summer peaks

Debates and protests usually hot up when the summer peaks, when ground water levels plunge abysmally low, lakes, wells and ponds dry up. But they are forgotten when the monsoon sets in.

The solutions, simple and effective ones, are there. All we need to do is take action, consistent action. In a burgeoning city, the problem is acute. And this is not going to be limited to the summer months. Dr. Sunny George, water management expert, feels that the city is precariously edging towards a dangerous situation if drastic and immediate steps are not taken.

“Putting it simply it is a twofold problem. One is of quantity and the other of quality of water. On a 60 or 80 cent land where a house stood, we now have skyscrapers that house 50 to 60 families. Sanctions are given without assessing the need, source and availability of water. Potable water is not sourced from one place. This water is stored in overhead or underground tanks.

This water can be heavily contaminated and you cannot point to a single source for this contamination. No one is responsible or can be held responsible. No one seems to be bothered about verifying the parameters of quality. If this goes on, I fear that the city will be hit by a severe epidemic,” feels Sunny George.

Poor quality water, experts say, is the second leading cause of infant mortality in the world, killing close to two million each year. Nearly 80 per cent of developing-world diseases are related to lack of safe drinking water. Studies reveal that serious health issues and water pollution are inextricably linked.

Whenever the taps go dry, fingers are pointed at the Kerala Water Authority, which is responsible for the design, construction, execution, operation and maintenance of most of the water supply schemes in the State. Accepting occasional lapses in distribution Ashok Kumar Singh, Managing Director, KWA, argues that poor management and lack of timely initiatives on the part of citizens are responsible for the problem. But, he says that the KWA, has already chalked out various projects that will help mitigate this problem soon. “The per capita consumption of water in Kochi city and its adjoining municipalities per day is in excess of the national average. There is mismanagement of the resource, which both the KWA and the citizens need to address. I believe that any future development of the city should be linked with water availability. This is not happening. The 100 MLD JNNRUM project, which is coming up in Maradu, in say six months, will ease the problem in places like Edakochi and Kumbalangi. Another additional project is also on the anvil in Aluva. But the permanent solution will be setting up of a desalination plant for which initial talks are on and of course, better management of water.”

City folk can also do their bit to save water. There are plenty of ways to save and recycle water. “Fix all leaking taps in your house. Seventy to 150 litres of water are wasted due to dripping taps. I have seen people use potable water to flush their toilets and clean their cars. This is criminal. There should be increased awareness about conservation and use of water,” feels A. Shivakumar, a resident.

Pumping water from the washing machine to a separate tank and using the soap water from the machine for the flush in the bathroom is an option that can be tried. Water used to wash vegetables can go to watering the garden, converting rain water are other methods that must be urgently adopted.