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Saving the precious drops

The ever-shrinking sources of fresh water have spelled misery for most big cities. An acute water shortage bringing daily life to a standstill in a big metropolitan city such as Chennai in recent times brought out the harsh reality.

In Jaipur, there are billboards and adverts every few metres on the roads about the preciousness of water and how we must be cautious about its use, as every drop counts. It is a powerful message — one that makes you ponder about it and drives a sense of responsibility in the residents and visitors alike. An admirably simple initiative, it can be adopted by every city to drive the message home.

More than water conservation, it is water recycling that is the absolute need of the hour. Rainwater harvesting is a solid step towards water harvesting, but may not be feasible for everyone and is simply not enough. Many cities have mandatory requirements of having rainwater harvesting systems to be incorporated in the building designs, whether a row house or apartment complex, without which building plans are not sanctioned. However, it exists merely on paper. In reality, these rainwater harvesting systems are not in use or are under (permanent) maintenance. The unaware urban populace that resides in such multi-storey apartment complexes, is content by the rainwater harvesting systems in place by the building complex and continues wasteful expenditure of the already limited source of freshwater.

Water is already rationed by many municipalities. But for a change to occur, we must minutely look at what each household can adopt in their routine lifestyle. We can start by taking a look at the things we do in our kitchens. We wash grains, vegetables and pulses before we cook. For example, we wash rice a minimum of three times before cooking. All that water is going down the drain. We are wasting many precious litres of water every day in this manner, without realising that this water can be reused to bring down our total consumption of freshwater in a day. Storing the water that we discard after washing rice, pulses and vegetables, you will notice that we easily use an average of two buckets of freshwater for this purpose alone. This water, if left undisturbed for 30 minutes, will undergo sedimentation, where the particle impurities will settle down and water will be clear to reuse. You can use this to water your plants, wash your vehicles, windows, floors, dusting sponges, floor mops and kitchen rags or flushing toilet.

Those of us who have RO water purifiers at home, know that it throws out more water than its output. A simple bucket collection method will make you realise just how much water goes waste every day in this manner (easily amounting to an average of

three buckets for a four-member family). While this water is unfit for watering your plants or washing your kitchen rags or floor mops (very hard water does not lather with soap and hence cannot clean clothes), it can be used (instead of fresh tap water) to soak our used utensils, to aid in easy cleaning after cooking. For example, your teapot, tea mugs, plates, pressure cooker, rice cooker, other pots and pans. Use this water to wash the floor, balcony and vehicle. It can also be used to flush your toilet.

By adopting just these two simple water harvesting and recycling techniques, each household with a family of four can reduce its fresh tap water consumption by an average of five or six buckets a day.

The present water crisis is a man-made one. Simple solutions, small changes in daily routines are all that is required for us to make a big change that counts. The future remains hopeful and we are that hope. All we need to do is make an honest effort towards it. Let us all pledge to use water judiciously and do our earnest bit for our planet.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 10:49:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/saving-the-precious-drops/article33768728.ece

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