01 Jul ‘Water Water Everywhere…’
“Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink…..”
These lines are taken from the poem named “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
We all have read this poem in our school syllabus. I came across this poem almost 18-20 years ago. It is still with me.
In these lines, the Sailor’s ship is stuck in ocean water that he cannot drink. Thinking about his plight, I often imagine his situation- he is thirsty, has run out of drinking water and the irony is that he is surrounded by water but is helpless because he cannot drink it. This was when I learned the word irony and its meaning.
These lines can be my situation or yours or maybe for our children in years to come. Glaciers are melting due to global warming and the water level in our oceans is rising continuously posing a danger to the existence of many islands and countries, still, there is a shortage of usable and potable water. These oceans and seas contain non-drinkable water, and groundwater sources are depleting or should we say, have almost depleted.
Staying in Mumbai or any Metropolitan city for that matter puts us in a position where we have good services, be it electricity, garbage handling or water supply. But I haven’t stayed in metropolitan cities all my life. I have lived in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities for a major part of my life. This could be one reason that I understand the trouble and struggles one faces when there is a power cut at the slightest of rough weather. Similarly, I know the plight of facing water cut when one needs it the most- summers.
Monsoon arrived late this year. There is already a drought-like situation declared in many parts of India. There are many areas, especially rural areas where a partial draught was officially declared in the month of December itself, long before the summers arrived. As much as 60% of India is struggling with a water crisis. As per various surveys, most of India’s groundwater will be depleted by 2050. We are approaching Day Zero – The day when most of the taps will be shut down and water would be available only for vital services. From that day, we might have to go to collection centres to have rationed water.
We do expect those in power to do something about it; whether it is the Society Secretary or Chief Minister of State or our Prime Minister. They can take many corrective measures but what they cannot do is come into our houses and save water for us. So we need to do that for us and our children and grandchildren.
Couple of years back, when I was working in a corporate job, I and my husband used to feel lucky that we have to go to office since the water cut happened during the daytime after we had left for our respective offices and would be back home when there would be water for another 2-3 hrs at night and we did not actually live with the water shortage.
But now things have changed, now I am a stay at home mother, with a pre-schooler with me at home. So I know the struggles of a water cut. Believe me, pre-schoolers use a lot of water- they want to wash hands on their own in running water, they want to wash face and feet every time they wash hands, they want to play with water every time they take a bath etc. So they need constant reminders for not wasting water, again and again and again.
This brings me to the question: How? How do we save water in our everyday lives?
Practicing, some thinking and a little research has brought me the following easy ‘Things to do’ that can be followed with least bit of effort:
- This one we all know but miss to follow – put the tap off when not using water, for as less as 2-3 seconds. While brushing, shaving, every time while lathering up the soap for a hand wash, point out maids to do so while washing dishes or clothes.
- Our little ones always follow us. If you say ‘DO NOT WASTE WATER’, they stop once, but if along with reminding them, we practice saving water every time, they form a habit of it because they are watching us every minute, every second of the day, whether we realize this or not. Practice extensive water saving for 2 months or maybe 3 and announce every time you do it, “see I am switching off the tap as the bucket is full and overflowing water is getting wasted. “We should not waste water.” Or “You can play with water by putting water from one bucket into other because throwing water on the floor will waste it. We should save water.”… etc. Once they register it, they will not do it and will point out when you are wasting water thus not letting you do it either, in fact, they would keep a keen eye on the bucket if you have left the tap on to check overflowing water, thus helping us.
- Re-use water. Fill up big kitchen utensils to wash fruits/vegetables, store dripping water from AC and use that water for plants or washing balcony, window cleaning, mopping floor, soaking clothes before washing etc.
- Fix the leaks. Any water leakage, faulty tap needs to be handled immediately. Till the time it is corrected, dripping water needs to be collected and used.
- Use bucket instead of the shower. Using bucket for a bath instead of shower saves on an average of 10-15 litres of water if you use 3/4 to 1 full bucket of water and an average Indian shower with a medium flow for 10 min.
- Rainwater Harvesting. Now that the rains are here, we need to ensure that every heavy downpour is used wisely. Whether water is cleaned and stored for usage in storage tanks or redirected into groundwater, it will help a lot in the short and long run.
- Use full load for washing and cleaning and use water and energy-efficient devices -washing machines, dishwashers, showerheads, toilets etc, check Energy Star labels. Doing a little research before buying these products can save up to 30% water per day on washing and 20% on energy consumption.
- Plant more trees. No, I am not talking about our balcony gardens or 10 potted plants we have in homes, I am talking about big trees with strong roots in the soil. We were taught in school, ‘Trees bind the soil and soil holds water thus allowing the water level to heal’. So we all know the logic behind planting more trees. What we need to do is look for ways to plant more trees. Grab on every opportunity to put some seeds/saplings on a raw, barren land, on roadsides, dividers, around the boundaries of our houses. We have a latest addition to this effort in the form of BEEJ BALLS. These can just be thrown around in empty lands that receive sunshine and rain.
- Water plants as per the season and avoid overflow. Use sprinklers for gardens and watering cans or spray bottles for balcony plants/gardens. Use water that is already used for washing fruits/vegetables, stored AC water (provided it does not contain mold). Over watering can make the plants rot while wasting the water gone into it.
Simply think 5 seconds before throwing any water in the drain if it can be used elsewhere. Gradually you will be able to figure out multiple ways as your brain is trained to save water.
‘Water is life’, we all know that. Now it is time we work to make our lives better. Saving water is not a destination, it is a journey that we all need to undertake for a better life, better planet and better us. It is no more an option now, it is a compulsion if we want our children to live a disease-free, healthy life as our bodies constitute 70% water. The thought that we will surely contribute is not sufficient, we need to act now because we have already reached at ‘Now or Never’ stage.
Happy Water Conserving!