Boring but important: We are running out of water






This map should scare the crap out of all of us. As should this story. As should the fact that successive governments have shown no inclination to take this issue seriously, and to search for solutions. Instead, we all stumble along, taking short term decisions with no thought of long term consequences, then undoing those decisions when reality bites (Remember this other story of Coca Cola being asked to shut three plants down because, groundwater?), and moving on to make equally wrong decisions someplace else.


7 thoughts on “Boring but important: We are running out of water

  1. Yes, it is scary. But there is something else that people are not talking about, the coastal erosion. I live on a beach, Prem, in a little fishing village. In the last few months and years there have been controversies here about the diversion of the Nethravathi to take water to the parched Kolar district etc. But there is something else that is a matter of deep concern for people living by the coast. Sand is being taken away from these rivers in the name of development and construction etc. Even the common people seem to think that this is sand that is “anyway wasted” and could be used for construction. Every year we have the monsoons when massive amounts of sand flows down into the sea and people seem to think that this sand could be used, so why waste it? etc. But here is the thing, the sand that you see and enjoy along the beaches, well, where do you think that comes from? It does not come from the sea, it comes from these rivers which bring down eroded rock and sandy matter to the seas. So people simply don’t understand that it is not wasted sand that goes to the sea and which could be used for construction instead. Nobody understands this. The result is, we have no more beaches left. In a few of my posts in my blog I mentioned this. No one seemed to hear it.
    There are other problems too. With the rising sea levels, there is a certain amount of salinity being introduced into our wells. It used to surprise people who used to visit us that we had sweet water in our wells living so close to the sea. That was because the water reservoirs were at a higher level than the sea level. Now that too is disappearing and what is more, our wells no longer show the abundance that used to be a marvel in the old days (Water at a depth of ten-twelve feet here, as opposed to around 10-20 meters closer to the highway merely 500m to the east of this place).

    But like everything else, we are not really scared until we begin to see the adverse effects and the consequences. Today, people still waste water and they still think that it is an infinite resource, whether they live in cities or in villages (more so in villages where water is not rationed as much, in fact). The sad thing is, Prem, those of us who face the consequences of global warming directly (sea rise, salinity of fresh water sources, erosion of the beaches, fish famines, death of local species of flora/fauna/pisces) have no voice. The city dwellers think we are lucky to live by the sea, but get upset when we point out that the sand being taken both legally and illegally from the river beds is what is killing our coast/beach.

    • This is interesting, and scary, and needs a little more exploring. Mail me? prem.panicker at gmail gets me. I usually respond within 24 hours tops.

        • The point Tejaswi makes is exactly akin to what I have been talking about the Sundarbans. Rivers carry more than water. They carry silt. Silt makes coastlines, silt builds deltas. Dams and barrages hold back silt. Ditto sand mining and upstream extraction. Coastal erosion is hugely attributable to upstream anthropogenic riparian activities, exacerbated by rising sea levels. The leaching of salinity into wells? remember how overextraction of groundwater means pulling in of water from the surrounds? I totally agree with Tejaswi. These quiet, non-spectacular (boring, in your words :)) issues need some outraging, screaming, attention. FAST. 🙂

          • Thanks for the support 🙂 Didn’t think anyone was interested…
            And wonderful images, by the way. (Of course, the first thing I saw on your WordPress page was an image of wide eyes that startled me out of my wits.. sorry, long night and bleary eyes… haha)…
            Well, to belabour the point, yes rivers carry more than silt. But the silt itself is important because it also supports an ecosystem on its own. (The organic matter that comes along with the silt, that is).
            You speak to anyone out here, they will scoff at the idea. After all, they say, it is excess water that is wasted anyway, that it is just sand that will pour out into the sea.. Well, common sense is not… what can I say? 😀
            And it is not just one issue, so many others that are inter-related and inter-dependent – marine ecology, estuarine ecology, sustenance of agriculture along the banks, coastal erosion, water salinity, fish famine (some species require the seasonal flow of river silt and fresh water at the sea-mouth to breed over here. I am sure it is the same in the Sunderbans), groundwater levels and so on…
            Thanks for seconding this.. I really appreciate it..

              • Yep, went there after my initial shock of looking at who-I-thought-was Arati Rao haha… just kidding.. went to your other site ficusmedia…
                Prem asked me to write to him about this. So this might be a little stressful for him to respond to me now haha.. though, to be fair, he really did read my mail and said he would respond. 🙂
                I just wish people were a little more aware. But there is a human angle to this that I cannot avoid thinking about. When we act as environmental do-gooders, do we risk progress? (Just playing devil’s advocate here).. for example, you know how sugarcane growing is really inexcusable in water-scarcity regions, and yet they persist in it. Now if we force them to stop, would it then cause a sugar shortage?
                Construction sand, for example. Should we ban it completely and use artificial aggregates in concrete, thus raising the already steep price of construction? There are no easy solutions to any of these questions.
                But the primary point I am trying to make is, what use is progress if humankind is killing itself slowly? What use is anything if this is going to be a barren planet in the end?
                I am told it is my Libran way that makes me look at the both sides (I don’t really believe in astrology, but I am told it is so). But I would really like people to strike a balance between development and sustainability.
                Thanks for the link… will read now… 🙂

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