Water Conservation in the Digital Age: Less of a miracle, more of a reality.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
(Excerpt from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”)
Even if the famous lines above didn’t chillingly portray it, it is very clear that no one can survive without water. Yet why is it that this is only noticed when it’s almost too late?
From hummingbirds to human beings, since the dawn of time, all living beings have required fresh water to survive. Now, notice how the emphasis is given to the word “fresh” water. The reason is because a whopping 79% of the earth’s water body, is found in the salty depths of our oceans. All the fresh water present in the world makes up just a measly 3%, most of which is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. That means just 0.5% of the Earth’s water is accessible for everything from growing crops to quenching our thirst.
This alarming reality is the reason why water monitoring and conservation is gaining attention with the passing days. Through monitoring process, we are provided with the necessary information to better preserve and protect our precious resource. The data collected can be useful in highlighting any changes that appear in our water bodies, which can help us take measures to check the damages from turning catastrophic.
But just think, a few years back would it have been possible to attempt such tactics to improve and conserve our water sources? It is because of the various breakthroughs in today’s technology that have made such things easier to accomplish. But this is just one of the ways in which we can stave off our destruction. While the Indian population continues to grow and our need for water increases, merely preserving our meager reserves of water is not good enough.
Hence, here are a few more methods that help optimize our existing water sources that have been made possible through today’s advanced technology.
Sweeter Seas to come:
Desalination is a process through which salt and other minerals are extracted from seawater to make it palatable for use. Along with recycled wastewater, it is one of the few rainfall-independent water sources and the only renewable source of fresh water available on this planet. Currently, 1% of the world’s population is already dependent on desalinated water to meet daily needs and this will only increase in the future. This is apparent, as according to the UN, 14% of the world’s population will face water scarcity by 2025.
“Fresh water availability for civic, industrial and agricultural consumption is emerging as a critical challenge in India; nearly 85-90 percent of fresh water is consumed in agriculture sector, thus it is important that we provide sustainable solutions to the farmers focusing on “Water Smart Agriculture”. The India Water tool developed in partnership with WBCSD provides insights on water availability and risks enabling stakeholders prioritize and plan appropriate actions for water interventions and management. We believe this will be the path ahead for solutions towards effective water management”
Rakesh Dubey | Government Affairs Lead
A Soil-less Tomorrow:
Aeroponics is the science of soil-less gardening. It basically involves growing healthy plants using a mineral-rich water solution. Studies show that plants often grow a lot better with their roots in water instead of soil, as all a plant needs to flourish is select nutrients, water and sunlight. Aeroponics uses a misting system to deliver nutrients which is specially favored, as it reduces water usage by 98%, fertilizer usage by 60%, and pesticide usage by 100%, all while maximizing crop yields. A big plus point in aeroponics is that the plants can be observed directly without disturbance. This helps in cutting off any issues that might crop up in the produce before they have a chance to become a concern.
Conserving from the Ground Up:
Subsurface Irrigation is a method of drip irrigation where water is applied and distributed over the soil surface by gravity. You may ask, but why use this method?
Since the water is applied below the soil surface (unlike most irrigation methods), water application is more uniformed and controlled providing optimum soil moisture to the root zone of the plant. The other great benefit of subsurface irrigation is reduction in evaporative losses, making it suitable for use in windy and arid locations.
It is by far the most common form of irrigation throughout the world and has been practiced in many areas virtually unchanged for thousands of years.
Even though the oncoming digital age, filled with its technological wonders, helps us derive solutions, it is not enough. Though the methods above will impact our ideas on the possibilities of water, it is only effective because the technology we use has become more advanced with time. Monitoring the way our existing water source is being maintained and used is the actual need of the hour.
Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to our meager water source. Even though our water crisis is getting more and more pronounced, it can be solved if at least now, in this eleventh hour, we do our best in conserving and protecting our resources.
“The companies we work with on water management in India understand the risks associated with water scarcity, and the opportunities that come with addressing it. The collective efforts of these companies, including Monsanto, have resulted in two strong initiatives to address water risks. The India Water Tool 3.0 opens up a wealth of information on water availability and stress in India, allowing all water users to make informed decisions for water management. The initiative on water-smart agriculture is the first corporate-led collective effort in the water and agriculture space. Here, companies like Monsanto are working together to scale-up water-smart solutions in India.”
Deepa Maggo | Manager, Water, WBCSD