Water is what makes the Earth unique. It is of paramount importance to life and is the driving force of life in all its forms on the planet. No form of life could ever have been possible had it not been for the correct temperature and atmosphere and one thing – water.
Our earth even gets its name ‘The Blue Planet’ because of this abundance of water in it. More than 70% of our body weight is made up of water. Human beings can survive up to three months without food but will survive only a few days without water.
Why the need for saving water arises?
The earth roughly has two-thirds of its surface covered with water. This is roughly 333 million cubic miles of water. However, only 2.5% of it is freshwater and only 0.3% of this freshwater is in liquid form.
Rainwater is the main source of this liquid freshwater. Thus it becomes absolutely imperative for us to save the water we have or else we would be left of polluted saline water that is of no use to the flora and fauna.
- Photosynthesis is the process responsible for the survival of plants which in turn give us food. Without water, there would be no photosynthesis.
- Germination of seeds for the growth and development of plants require water.
- Excretion of metabolic wastes from the body requires water in the large intestine and rectum
- Temperature regulation of the bodies of animals as well as human beings and even of the earth’s surface requires water because of its high heat capacity.
- Agriculture – Green revolution to cater ever-increasing population is based on proper irrigation of crop fields that require huge amounts of water.
- Power generation – we use large amounts of water for the purpose of both thermal as well as hydroelectricity.
- Domestic sector – In domestic works, water is necessary for drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning, toilet use, gardening, etc.
Sources of Water Pollution
- Domestic wastes – Sewage and other decaying organic substances along with detergents add a huge amount of nitrates and phosphates respectively to induce the process of eutrophication in water bodies.
- Agricultural runoff – Chemical fertilizers after their use gather in the soil. Heavy rains often become the culprit of to carry these fertilizers to the nearest water bodies and overburden the nutrient budget of the water bodies to set in eutrophication.
- Industrial Pollutants – Partially oxidized oxygen demanding industrial wastes reach the water bodies and consume dissolved O2 to complete their reaction setting Biological/Biochemical Oxygen demand (BOD) very high which degrades the water quality very badly.
- Industrial and power plant produced heat is also a pollutant for water bodies. This can induce thermal shock following death to aquatic organisms.
- Oil spills from ships and oil tankers pollute marine habitat severely.
- Dumped Solid wastes to water bodies can generate pathogenic culture (i.e. bacteria, fungus, virus, etc.) that can have adverse impacts.
Methods of saving water
There are various methods bath at domestic levels as well as in the industrial factor with which we can save our precious water.
- Using a high pressure nozzle to remove dirt is more water efficient than using hose which uses high volume of water rather than the force of high speed water.
- Many offices and buildings hire companies who clean their windows regularly at a fixed time interval irrespective of whether cleaning is necessary or not. This may be profitable for the cleaning company but causes massive water losses for no reason at all.
- Plumb lines should always be monitored on a regular basis to check for any leakage of water. Every year, leakage of water is a huge source of water loss.
- Use of automatic shut-off valves can save a lot of water at times when equipment is not in use.
- Use of biodegradable disposable plates in food courts and malls will subtract the aspect of rinsing and can save a huge quantity of water.
- Self-shutoff air controllers should be used in places where water fountains run.
- High pressure water jet should be used to clean cars and other vehicles instead of garden hose.
- The use of grey water wherever necessary should be promoted for industrial plants. Grey water is not completely clean water. It is but relatively clean water that is obtained after mild cleaning of clothes and utensils and can be reused for other non-drinking purposes.
- We should use buckets instead of bath tubs for bathing.
- Taps and faucets should not be kept running when not in use.
- Industrial waste should be passed through proper sewage and waste treatment units before being dumped into the water bodies.
- Large cooperative housing societies should install rainwater harvesting systems for holding clean water and conserving it. This will also reduce pressure on other sources of water like groundwater that comes through taps.
- We should install recharge pits in areas of scanty rainfall.
- Water saving irrigation methods like drip irrigation should be encouraged. This form of irrigation, the water is delivered through small pipes to the roots of the plants at a low pressure. Since water is delivered to exactly the areas where it’s needed, there is no wastage of water at all and the volume of water required to irrigate a relatively large area becomes quite less.
- School children should be taught from the primary level, the importance of water and the need for saving it. Awareness is the most important tool that we need for saving water.
- The use of organic fertilizers should be promoted wherever possible and feasible. Organic fertilizers however are not as efficient and re not at all practical for large scale production of food crops to feed the growing population. However, small areas and domestic flower gardens can use organic manures at ease and get promising yields. Organic fertilizers are not harmful even if they sleep in through the soil and mix with the ground water table.
Water is a gift of nature and is of extreme importance for our future generations to propagate and dwell peacefully. Nothing in this world can substitute water.
We cannot produce new water in the factories and survive. We have to live on our pre-provided reserve of water and if we pollute it too, then time is not far when life on this planet will only be evident from our own fossils.