MAKING EVERY DROP OF WATER COUNT – HOW CAN WE CONTRIBUTE?

We know Drop by Drop Water Pot Gets Full Therefore Every Drop is Precious – Save it.

D. D. Derashri*

image water dropThe current practices with regard to conservation management and use have resulted in diminishing the sustainable status of fresh water resource. Over exploitation of fresh water resources, increasing pollution and indiscriminate use had rapidly reduced the quality and quantity of available fresh water per capita. An alarming situation had reached with its ever increasing demand, therefore new ideals and effective ways for judicious management and increasing availability of water resource are among the desperate need of the time. A complete paradigm shift is required to solve the critical water crisis. To have a proper balance, not only water availability needs to be augmented, consumption needs will have to be reduced. How can we contribute to achieve this aim, please continue to read.

After air, water is the most valuable free gift of God. Nature has a cycle which regulates the availability of water. An adverse pressure on this cycle, created by the present developments has resulted in converting this free gift into scare commodity.

To examine different issues related to water in detail, Government of India has constituted a high powered National Commission for integrated Water Resources Development Plan (NCIWRDP). This commission has to prepare integrated plan for development of water resource for drinking, irrigation, industrial, flood control and other uses and to suggest modalities for transfer of surplus water to water deficit basins as well as to identify and prioritise on going and new projects etc. To complete the assigned task the national commission had to peep deeply into various aspects related to availability and use of water. How can we contribute to achieve this aim is listed below.

A. Increasing Availability

i. by improving precipitation through (i) Environmental improvements, development of forests etc., (ii) Reducing Al-Niño, green house effects and ozone zone protection & (iii) Cloud seeding and artificial rains so that good monsoon clouds do not just pass away without appreciable raining, as it happens in states like Rajasthan.

ii. by proportionate withdrawal of water reserves from glaciers of Himalaya range for augmenting supplies to water deficit areas particularly in summer months.

iii. by unfolding River Saraswati myth. If river Saraswati is a reality this should be investigated on priority as it can provide natural under ground water from carrying channel of Himalayan waters to most water deficit part of our nation up to the Run of Kutch. Other similar myths also need to be investigated on priority.

iv. by Inter Basin Transfer of water to increase water availability through external sources (inter nation, inter-state, inter-basin transfers of water (please refer part D).

v. by efficient conservation practices. We will have to conserve the water at the nearest suitable location to the area where it falls, use it and let it seep into the ground for reuse. While utilising the flows by storing it at suitable reservoir locations or diverting to water scare basins, adequate protection to the riparian demand needs will have to be established. It has been seen that construction of reservoirs across non perennial rivers has resulted in reducing the water availability up to considerable distance downstream of the reservoir on both sides of river banks adversely effecting the well developed centuries old Seja irrigation (by good yield of water at reasonable depth below ground) along the banks of river course.

vi. by increasing surface, sub surface and under ground water availability through adequate water shed planning, water harvesting and water conservation techniques like contour bunding and construction of sub soil barriers like Anicuts, Bhandaras, Check dams, Nadies, Johad, Khadeens, Talabs etc.

vii. by making artificial recharge to be an integral part of water resource management. Inducing more penetration of surface waters to recharge underground water aquifer per sq.km of land area by way of locating day light areas of buried channels and construction percolation resources like recharge ponds, wells and river channel storage works will have to be adopted.

viii. by improvement of soil texture for increasing the water retention capacities (soil mass storage).

ix. by introducing in house and within society storage practices of rain water conservation for consumption through in house storage tankas, tanks and similar structures.

x. by promoting roof top rainwater harvesting through construction of Tankas (collection tanks) within house premises, channelizing rain water into local wells and depressions for improving re-charge. To achieve this, each locality must have an “Urban runoff storage and Control Authority” under the control of local governing body like Panchayat or Municipal Corporation to look after the best utilisation and disposal of monsoon drainage and non monsoon drainage. The idea is this that every village / town / city must have its own water budget.

xi. by reuse of abandoned ancient water structures like village wells, Kunds, Baories, built-up storage tanks etc.

B. Judicious Management

(i) by shift from gravity irrigation to pressure/lift irrigation. It is estimated that over 60% of total available water is used by gravity irrigation with performance efficiencies as low as 40%. Hence a much quantum can be saved if farmers are promoted to use pressure irrigation (drip, sprinkler etc.) instead of gravity (canal flow) irrigation. The irrigation canals off taking from reservoirs may be planned and designed in such a way that direct flow irrigation is discarded and farmers are motivated to lift water from such canals by employing small diesel, petrol, electrical, solar, wind pumps or even through bullock driven lifts. This will also increase the recharge of ground water table; reduce the evaporation, leakage, conveyance, spill losses and lead to efficient utilisation of canal water. Farmers will also feel some attachment with canal water as they will have to impart some labour and cost for getting the canal water in a similar fashion to that of well water.

(ii) by shifting cropping pattern. We will have to motivate farmers to grow high water requirement crops only where ample water is available, otherwise preference will have to be given to dry farming or rain fed cultivation only.

(iii) by adopting practice for minimising the conveyance system losses, leakage, seepage through canals, pipe lines, tunnels etc.

(iv) by increasing utilisation of saline, brackish and use of seawater (through reverse osmosis technology as used in Jamnagar Industrial areas).

(v) by utilizing existing and methodologies for re-cycling of residual drainage or waste water and by making improvement in such methodologies like passing drainage effluent through crisscross stony falling gradient bed to increase aeration and then through sand basin filter beds before re-use.

(vi) by penalties, fines and levies on activities like discharging polluted water effluent freely without any treatment into any natural drainage system and charging the industries using water and to use the money for development of water shed activities in the area.

(vii) by enhancing one point multiple uses like Hydropower & Irrigation, Irrigation & Flood Control, Irrigation & Mini-hydle, Drinking & Percolation Irrigation, Irrigation & Wildlife, Irrigation & Fisheries, Irrigation & Drinking, Household use & Irrigation through canals.

C. Reducing Consumption

(i) by fixing basin-sub-basin wise consumption plans and trying to maintain water shed integrity. We will have to define and allocate priorities to best possible utilisation and consumption.

(ii) by efficient water management through introduction of PIM techniques. We will have to help conflict management between various beneficiaries. (Water resources created for irrigation are being used for drinking, domestic and industrial use creating inter-class conflicts). We will have to adopt Beneficiaries Participatory Management (BPM) in all sections of water utilisation among all stake holders like irrigation, drinking, industrial etc. keeping together all stake holders to understand problems and resolve them in best possible manner for equitable efficient use of water.

(iii) by utilisation of air pressure or vacuum suction principles for flushing water closet and W.Cs instead of storage water flushing cisterns. This will appreciably reduce the quantitative requirement of flushing water.

(iv) by fixing of qualitative and quantitative standards for different uses after proper EIA & SIA (Environment Improvement Assessment & Social Improvement Assessment). Use of fresh water or treated water will have to be restricted for drinking only. For other house hold uses, raw water or inferior quality water will have to be given preference.

(v) by limiting use of water consuming facilities like Desert Coolers, Dishwashers, Washing Machines, Shower Tub baths, and Auto Service stations etc. In old times cleaning of utensils was done by use of soil/dust or cow dug ash there by limiting the consumption of water for the purpose. Presently, use of detergents requires much more water for proper cleaning and removal of detergent traces from the utensils.

(vi) by improving biological drainage which is an appealing alternative as it uses evapotranspiration capacity of the vegetation.

(vii) by reducing wastage and over watering to lawns, kitchen, gardens etc.

(viii) by adequate water pricing structure to check excess consumption then pre fixed standards. Now – a- days, water is a social resource and must have cost based pricing. Hence, we will have to treat water as an economic commodity and not a nature’s or God’s gift.

(ix) by enforcement of water measurement based consumption outlet and by maintaining a judicious equity. We may have to create artificial scarcity to manage society to develop skills to live with scarcity conditions.

(x) by motivating practices helpful in reducing normal system losses and losses through spills, leakage, heavy seepage, evaporation, wastage etc. etc.

(xi) by educating people about economical and efficient use, re-use of water with wide publicity through newspapers, Kiosks, Mass communication media, TV Seminar, Essay Competitions etc. We will have to introduce a class course at lower standards of education for the purpose.

D. Inter Basin Transfer (IBT)

We will have to consider –

¨ the need to develop national and international conscious and to evaluate impact on social and political relations with respect to fixing allocations of IBT.

¨ to clearly and define if basin has surplus to divert or not – this is most important.

¨ that IBT should not be a state subject. Centre must plan and construct an IBT project and beneficial states be charged according to proportion of their utilisation including paying for O&M costs. Similarly the resource state will have to be credited proportionate income share. (may be in form of royalty) For IBT within the state adjoining sub basins, concerned state will have to be given adequate subsidiary allocations for completion of these projects. The area utilising IBT waters will have to be adequately charged to generate resources and pay for O&M regularly.

Judicious assessment of Inter Basin Transfer quantity can be done with following relationship:

Et =K (E+Ep-D) E+Ep <= ds – (No transfer); D <= ds

` dn >=(E+Ep) > ds – (Transfer); D = ds

E+Ep > dn – (Transfer) D = dn

Where:

Et = quantum of water diverted to next basin

E = total available utilisable water within basin under study

Ep = Total available diversion from previous basin.

D = Total Demand of basin under study.

ds = scanty year demand.

dn = Normal or good year demand.

K = Transit loss factor <1

Some of the inter basin transfer proposals in Rajasthan are under:

¨ Jakham Stage III to Mahi Sagwara canal linkage.

¨ Mahi to Som Kamla Amba command.

¨ Mahi-Anas-Sabarmati Diversion tunnel for Jalore Sanchore area.

¨ Mansi Wakal to Pichola Vallabhnagar.

¨ Sabarmati-Kalibore-Sei-Jawai feeder.

¨ Swarswati River alignment Exploration .

¨ Gandhi Saagar Chambal to Ummed Saagar Shahpura, Bhilwara joining

Chambal-Ruparail Orai – Breach -Banās-Kothari Rivers.

¨ Yamuna water to Churu Jhunjhunu Sikar area through Tajewala Head works (In addition to 0.5 MAF share already fixed) in lieu to monsoon surplus contribution from Pārbati, Gambhiri, Parvan, Ruparail, Banganga and Chambal rivers to Yamuna.

¨ Diversion of Luni river and tributaries water through solar lift for filling low level depressions in Pokran Phalodi Kolayat areas.

*About the Author –

Mr. Devndra Deo Derashri (D. D. Derashri) is a retired Chief Engineer from Water Resources Department, Government of Rajasthan and is presently headquartered at Bhilwara Town of Rajasthan. He is heading a consultancy firm "Water People" and also a N.G.O. named "Paniwale" both working in Water Resources field. Study, analysis and writing on complex water related issues, is his hobby and this article is an example of the same. He can be contacted at wpwaterpeople@gmail.com or paniwale@gmail.com

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