GROWING WATER NEED
Indian population in 1947, after the partition, was estimated at 33 crores with 80-85% living in villages. Indian population in 2017 was +134.25 crores. Over the years the urban population has been increasing aided by the immigration from villages. Now approx 60-65% live in villages and the rest in the urban area. Between 1950 and early 1970s, the underground water table was around 15 – 30 feet below ground level in many cities of India. Most of the households had hand-pumps. The water quality was also potable as per standards. However, over the years due to unplanned urban expansion and the increased demand for water combined with the inability of civic management, the consumption of underground water has been increasing steadily. As per available data, (Table-1) Indian population is now growing at 1.6 crores annually. Considering an average consumption of 250 liters of water per person per day, an additional increase of domestic water is approx. 4000 Million Liters per day (MLD). Besides, the increasing population also has resulted in increased Industrial water demand to meet the growing needs of goods and consumer items in areas like power generations for domestic and industrial requirements, agriculture, transportation, railways, housing, infrastructure etc. resulting in a vicious cycle. We are also witnessing phenomenal growth in domestic and international tourism resulting in exponential growth of hospitality industry notorious for water consumption. All these factors impact in the rise of water demand.
To provide the sufficient water vital for maintaining life on earth all around the year, nature has provided enough water resources in the form of snow, lakes, rivers, water-bodies, underground water storage (Called Aquifers) and replenishes it every year in the form of rain and snow as per the representation in Water Cycle:
70% of the earth is covered with water. Nature has provided us natural lakes, water bodies, and rivers on the ground level and remotest of places. Similarly, nature has provided us lakes, waterfalls etc in hilly regions. On every hill station, we find the large lakes storing water. Nature has perfectly made provision for the survival of all living beings and replenishes it sufficiently.
The underground storage of water started depleting due to increase in bore-wells for irrigation, domestic and industrial use as this is the easiest way of getting water to meet our requirements. However, as the open grounds are reducing, thousands of water bodies, ponds and other waterways are substantially reducing resulting in depletion of the aquifers.
IMPACT OF URBANISATION, RURAL EXPANSION AND INDUSTRIALISATION:
Rapidly increasing of urban and rural population resulted in the expansion of cities requiring land nearby the cities and villages. The development of additional industries to meet the requirements also required for land, water, power, infrastructure development. Agriculture land, water bodies, jungles, trees have to be sacrificed to meet the increasing requirements of land. The reduction of fields, water bodies, trees and jungles are increasingly impacting the recharge of underground aquifers. Also the rainwater gets drained away quickly.
TYPICAL CONDITIONS OF URBAN AREA
MORE WATER CONSUMTION MEANS MORE POLLUTING WATER:
The increase in demand of water for domestic use and for Industrialisation resulted in generating more polluted water requiring more treatment plants. When the untreated water is discharged in rivers or other water bodies, it results in polluting the good quality water also making it unsuitable for human consumption or for irrigation. The polluted water used in agriculture in particular results in unhygienic agricultural produce.
As per published data, Total Sewage Generation in 2016 was 61,754 MLD (Million Litre per DAY)
CHARGING OF AQUFIERS:
The permeability of land varies from area to area and land to land. The location, depth, capacity of aquifers below the land also varies. The yield and dispensability of water in aquifers are also variable. The underground aquifers are charged by the seepage of water through the widespread grounds (depending upon variables as per above), water bodies, rivers, lakes, ponds etc. However, due to urban expansion, industrialisation and rural development, the free land has been reducing which is constraining the adequate charging of underground water. Our dependency and demand of withdrawal of water is much higher than the aquifers getting recharged during rain by natural means. The quality of water in terms of TDS and hardness becomes bad in the deeper aquifers and are exceeding the limits suitable for human consumption.
FLOOD and WATER LOGGING:
During every Rainy Season we face floods and water logging in various part of our county. The excess rain exceeds the permeability through land, discharge path of water which results in accumulation of water causing flood. This May also be due to blockage of natural path of water flow because of urban expansion. Further, inadequacy of drainage system to meet the water discharge requirements during high intensity of rains in cities and urban area may be causing water logging. Nevertheless, we lose hundreds of lives and damages of thousands of crores of rupees in such disasters. Over the years we have data of damages to properties and loss of lives, but have become somehow complacent from safeguarding our future and wait for the next disaster to happen. We suffer loss of thousands of crores in every disaster besides loss of precious lives.
RECENT FLOODS CAUSING DAMGES and LOSS OF LIVES:
In Assam approximately 10.17 lakhs of people have been affected by floods and 2.17 lakhs are living in camps.
Apart from these, every year we have news of water logging in Mumbai and other fast-expanding cities that has become a norm in every rainy season. Metrological labs provide the data on average, maximum and minimum rainfall in various areas. These norms are considered by architects and town planners. The intensity of rain exceeding these parameters and the duration, which are mostly unpredictable, results in flooding due to an inadequate drainage system. Besides, wherever the runoff water is higher and natural discharge ways are blocked during development, the water exceeds the drainage limits and flooding or waterlogging happens in the area.
AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGIES and METHODOLOGY FOR CHARGING THE UNDERGROUND AQUIFIERS:
RECHARGING OF DRY AQUIFIERS:
Scientists, engineers and various research organisations are working for various methodologies and technologies over the years. The below picture may help us to understand for recharging the aquifers.
If we channelize rain water by adopting these means and methodologies the water can be stored back in aquifers.
1. BHUNGROO: This method is successfully used in Gujarat and is helping the farmers in rural area and helping their irrigation needs.
2. RAINWATER HARVESTING WELL:
There are different designs available for rain water harvesting:
Today we have weather information months in advance provided by many organizations. There are several occasions when damages caused by cyclones have been minimized due to advance predictions and close monitoring and shifting and safeguarding the people. However, the increasing need is to formalize policies for future while working to control damages of existing infrastructure.
CONCLUSION: It will not be out of place to say that as per the saying
“MONEY SAVED IS MONEY EARNED” Today is synonymous with “EVERY DROP OF WATER SAVED TODAY IS WATER SAVED FOR FUTURE”
What can be done for the future is work in progress and continuous indulgence of implementation to safeguard our future?
Some of the suggestions could be:
1. Make an exhaustive plan for expansion and safeguarding of water-bodies, trees etc. and plant additional trees to meet the future environmental need.
2. Build enough rain harvesting wells as per the characteristics of the soil, rainfall data, and natural exit route of water expected runoff after the development of the area and expected future demand for water.
3. Construct underground water storages under free space of developed area to store rooftop water discharge during rain to reduce water withdrawal from aquifers.
4. Develop a drainage system suitable for handling enough capacity of run-off to meet the maximum rainfall compensating loss of discharge to aquifers.
5. Construct STP and Effluent treatment plants with the usage of recycled water to minimize the demand of fresh water. Such practices are already now part of development policies.
6. Use the treated effluent for irrigation, landscaping and plantation with stringent compliance rather polluting rivers and water bodies.
7. Minimise the habit of wasting water for our daily uses. 8. Optimise the water usage for day to day life. 9. Use of SOLAR POWER and WIND POWER as neither requires water nor pollute the environment.
BY: Jagdish C Sethi, Project Management Consultant, Associated as Project Director.
[Worked on many prestigious projects for “Water Treatment, Effluent Treatment plants, Waste Water Treatments”]
The author can be followed in twitter at @jcsethi