5 Sustainable Water Management Practices

For sustainable development, it is important to effectively manage fresh water due to its declining availability and ever increasing demand. India has to take steps and make effective policies and adopt effective measures for its conservation due to high cost of desalination making sea water usage to a minimum. Attempts to prevent pollution ought to be made besides using water saving techniques. There is a need to adopt practices such as rain-water harvesting, water recycling & reuse for sustained supply in the long run.

1. Prevention of Water Pollution

There is a rapid deterioration of water quality alongside its quantity getting reduced. While rivers contain better quality at upper stretches of hilly areas, when in plains river water is deteriorated owing to the solid/liquid wastes, fertilizers, insecticides and industrial effluents getting into it through drains. The pollutants are more enriched in summer due to the low momentum of water. Water quality of 507 national aquatic resources is being monitored by central and state pollution control boards. Some of the most polluted ones being The Yamuna between Delhi and Etawah, severely polluted rivers Sabarmati at Ahmedabad, the Gomti at Lucknow, the Vaigai at Madurai and the Musi of Hyderabad and the Ganga at Kanpur and Varanasi etc. Ground water also got polluted over the time due to high concentrations of heavy/toxic metals, fluoride and nitrates. While The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, and Environment Protection Act 1986 need to be adhered to, awareness for low usage of pollutants in agricultural and industrial sectors and also towards low waste generation need to be created in general populous.

2. Sustainable Water Use

Sustainable water use refers to the use of water that supports the ability of human society to endure and flourish into the indefinite future without undermining the integrity of the hydrological cycle. The utilization of reclaimed waste- water is an smart option for fulfilling the demand of industries. Similarly, in urban areas water from household drains can be used for gardening. Water used for washing vehicle can also be used for gardening. This would conserve better quality of water for drinking purposes. Currently, recycling of water is practiced on a limited scale. However, we need to encourage the replenishment of water through recycling. United Nations Environment Programme has launched an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to promote coordination in management and development water, land and related resources. It will help to improve economic and social welfare in a justifiable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital resources.

3. Watershed Management

Watershed management implies the conservation and efficient management surface and groundwater resources especially watershed areas. It comprises storage and prevention of runoff for groundwater recharge through various methods like recharge well, tanks and check dams etc. The main objective of watershed management is maintaining the balance between utilization of natural resources and their demand in society. The accomplishment of watershed development chiefly depends upon participation of local community. The States and Central Governments have started many watershed management programmes in India such as Haryali, Arvary Pani Sansad (Rajasthan), Neeru-Meeru (Andhra Pradesh) etc. It is essential to generate awareness about welfares of watershed development and its management among local communities and this approach will ensured the sustainable availability of water.

4. Rainwater Harvesting

Rain water harvesting is used to capture and store rainwater. It is also helpful to recharge groundwater. It is an eco-friendly and cheap technique for preserving precipitated rain water by guiding it to storage tank or bore well or pits or wells. It increases water availability, sustains ground water table, improves groundwater quality through dilution of contaminants like arsenic, fluoride, phosphates, nitrates etc. It also prevents flooding, soil erosion, and arrests salt water imposition in coastal areas. Now a day, Government is also encouraging the practice of Rainwater harvesting in residential, institutional and commercial areas. In our country, rainwater harvesting was a common traditional practice and is done by various methods in form of storage bodies like Kund or Tanka, ponds, lakes, etc.

5. Dam and Its Role in Water Conservation

Storage of water by construction of dams is regarded as an efficient component of water management for irrigation. In India, the high-level demand of water for irrigation can be achieved by building dams of various heights. It has already been done under several river valley projects like Sardar Sarovar Dam project (in Narmada river valley), Nagarjun Sagar Dam Project (in Krishna River valley), Tehri Dam project (in Bhagirathi River valley) etc. The benefits of dam projects include;

  1. Generation of hydroelectricity.
  2. Irrigation and flood control.
  3. Industrial and municipal water supply.

The canal system from dam can transfer a large amount of water to great distances. The most famous example is the Indira Gandhi canal that brought greenery to the desert areas of Rajasthan. However, mismanagement of water from water reservoir of dams can cause many problems such as;

  • Unequitable distribution of water in downstream areas
  • People living close to the water sources grow crops which require heavy irrigation
  • The sudden or accidental release of water from dam results into flood like situations.
  • Disturbance of the ecosystem

Since independence more than 700 dam have been constructed. if the government programmes go ahead as scheduled, there will be hardly any free-flowing river left in the country. That is why, environmentalist such as Sundar Lal Bahuguna, Medha Patkar, Chandi Prasad Bhatt and others have opposed the implementation of several river valley projects like Tehri Dam project (Uttarakhand), Sardar Sarovar Dam (Gujrat), Narmada Sagar Dam project (Madhya Pradesh) etc. The reasons for this opposition are due to the social, economic and environmental problems.

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