‘Formulate new water policies’

New technologies alone will not solve water problems: expert

New technologies alone will not solve growing water problems. There is a need to formulate new policies and regulations to move forward towards water security, said Trevor Birkenholtz, associate professor of Geography, Pennsylvania State University, on Wednesday.

Speaking to The Hindu, on the sidelines of a session on ‘Water in the Hydrosocial Cycle’, organised at the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, he said drip irrigation was one of the best technologies introduced to conserve groundwater resources. It has enhanced food productivity in many parts of India, but has not decreased groundwater use, he added.

Mr. Birkenholtz has worked extensively on the transformation of groundwater-based irrigation and water use, and the spread of water supply technologies in arid and semi-arid zones of India. Farmers may be given incentives to crop varieties that need less water. Water scarcity is a human-produced problem and there is a need to democratise the approach towards it and learn about it through others’ expertise, including citizen science, he said.

Elaborating on the hydrosocial cycle, he said: “It is a process through which water and the society make and remake each other, over time. It is about how water is produced and also produce social circumstances.”

Water must be treated as intrinsically human and as a part of people’s life, to move towards a water-secure future. Payment for ecosystem services, wherein landowners are provided incentives for ecological services, must be considered, he said.

A paradigm shift from the present practices is key to future urban development. For instance, instead of draining a huge volume of floodwater through stormwater drains, open spaces must be part of urban planning.

Drawing examples from California, he said water saving devices, particularly in commercial establishments, would help conserve resources.

About 40 students and faculty members, from different educational institutions, attended the session, hosted by the Amercian Center and the U.S.-India Educational Foundation. It was organised as a curtainraiser to an exhibition, to be inaugurated on February 11, as part of ‘Water Matters’, a collaborative project of the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, Care Earth Trust and Smithsonian Institute, U.S.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:34:30 PM |

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