Venue : Presidency Girls Hr. Sec. School , Egmore, Chennai NATIONAL SCIENCE SEMINAR WATER CRISIS ON THE EARTH PROBLEMS AND REMEDIES Submitted by A. NAVEEN ANTO, Sri Jayendra Golden Jubilee School, Sankarnagar – 627 357, Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu. Date : August 27, 2008 CONTENT ¦ INTRODUCTION ¦ WHAT DO WE MEAN BY WATER CRISIS? ¦ WHAT CAUSES & TRIGGERS THE WATER CRISIS ¦ IMPACTS OF WATER CRISIS ¦ REMEDIES FOR WATER CRISIS ¦ CONCLUSION WATER CRISIS ON THE EARTH PROBLEMS AND REMEDIES INTRODUCTION Water the elixir of life feeds the planets ecosystem, flows through our bodies and buildings connects humans through a source of life.
Even this 1%, which is renewed by hydrological cycle is put to severe stress due to overuse and pollution. The world is today facing a serious overall scarcity of water on one hand and on the other hand the available surface and ground water is becoming unsafe for consumption due to several agricultural, domestic and industrial pollution. 70% of our planets surface is water, yet only 2. 5% is fresh water. The remaining 97. 5% is salt water, out of the 2. 5%, 1% alone is available for human consumption. WHAT CAUSES & TRIGGERS THE WATER CRISIS Water crisis on earth has been caused by HIGH POPULATION GROWTH ¦ RAPID URBANIZATION ¦ EVER INCREASING DEMAND FOR COMPETING USES LIKE More than one billion people have no access to safe drinking water. It is estimated that by 2025, more than half of the World’s Population will be facing water vulnerability. India is one among the countries which face a severe water stress. This quantitative and qualitative water stress is known as water crisis. • DRINKING • AGRICULTURE • INDUSTRY AND • ENERGY WHICH HAS NOT BEEN BALANCED WITH PROPER EFFORTS FOR WATER MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION POPULATION GROWTH In year 2000 the world population was 6. billion compared with a mere 2. 5 billion in 1951. DEPLETION OF AQUIFERS The ground water and surface water potential on earth is facing a serious threat of permanent loss due to CLIMATE CHANGE Global warming leading to climate change will have a significant impact on water resources as this will greatly affect the hydrological cycle. Both droughts and floods may become more frequent. According to a UN climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of Asia’s biggest rivers like Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, etc. could disappear by 2035 as temperatures rise.
In India alone, the Ganges provides water for drinking and farming for more than 50 crore. This growth in population has brought about a serious decline in the per capita availability of water. ¦ DEPLETION OF AQUIFERS ¦ GLOBAL WARMING AND ¦ CLIMATE CHANGE Water tables are falling due to erection of tube wells and over pumping of water. Depletion of aquifers without proper re-charge will result in subsidence of aquifers and permanent loss of ground water potential. Similarly in coastal cities like Mexico City, Bangkok, Manila, Beijing and Chennai, over pumping of round water has led to penetration of sea water into aquifers which makes the ground water salty, brackish and unusable. IMPACTS Water crisis leads to • FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL CRISIS • HEALTH CRISIS • ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS AND LOSS OF BIO DIVERSITY • WATER POLITICS AND SOCIAL CRISIS FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL CRISIS An estimated 42,000 people die every week due to contaminated water. Malaria, Diarrhoea, Leptospirosis, Japanese encephalitis, Jaundice, Typhoid, which cause millions of preventable deaths in third world countries are associated with contamination of drinking water.
Black foot disease, peripheral nuritis, hyperkeratosis, skin and lung cancer, blue baby syndrome, itai itai and mental derangement are associated with arsenic, nitrates, mercury, cadmium and lead toxins in water. Environmental crisis leads to extinction of fish species and coral reef formation. Upland ecosystems are at risk due to diminishing of fresh water flow in upstream sources as they are diverted for human uses. The red run in madagascar plateau damaged riverine ecosystems due to gully erosion and heavy silting in rivers. Eutrophication results in the loss of biodiversity in water.
Water crisis leads to increased poverty, migration of people in search of water, social unrest and increase in violence. There are approximately 260 different river system worldwide, where conflicts exist crossing national boundaries. ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS & LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY WATER POLITICS & SOCIAL CRISIS Desertification of Arid lands and disappearance of glaciers pose a serious threat to food security of millions of people. Water scarcity severely threaten freshwater fish populations, which serve as an important food source of millions of people worldwide.
Scientist say that 80,000 acres of farmland is already damaged along Noyyal river alone. Imagine the impact of polluted rivers on agriculture and food production of India in the future. HEALTH CRISIS “If the wars of the 20th Century were fought over oil – the wars of the 21st century will be fought over water” says Ismail Serageidin, Vice President, World Bank. REMEDIES How are we going to overcome the water crisis? What are the remedies? We can easily tackle water crisis if we integrate our traditional wisdom with modern scientific technologies and ideas like WATERSHED MANAGEMENT AND IRRIGATION
Holistic water shed management and planning through soil conservation, catchment-area treatment, preservation and increase of forest cover and construction of check-dams will help to reduce water stress. Similarly as Dr. M. S. Swaminathan says Drip irrigation sprinkler irrigation and traditional systems like Mulching and pitcher irrigation will help us to achieve optimal productivity per unit of water. Now let us look at a case study. 5000 years back the Indus valley civilization was successfully harvesting run off in the Thar desert whereas today Cherrapunji which gets 11000 mm rainfall suffers from serious drinking water threat.
So it does not matter how much it rains, if we don’t capture and manage it properly. The traditional indigenous methods and techniques like kul, Khatri, Eri, Oorani and Zabo followed by our water wise ancestors focus on catching water, conserving water and harvesting it. Such techniques are effective in recharging the ground water. Water quality management should also be emphasized. Effluents should be treated before discharging them into water sources. The principle of “polluter pays” should be followed. • Linking of Rivers • Desalination • Waste water treatment • Fog collection UV Water Purification, etc. CONCLUSION Let us collaborate to conserve water and encourage others to do the same. As a National Green Corps school we are already committed to the cause Let us not leave hell as a legacy to our children, let us leave them life. Ralegan Siddhi an arid destitute village of India has been transformed into one of the richest village by adopting these watershed Management and irrigation techniques. The transformation began in 1975. Storage ponds, staggered trenches, percolation ponds, gully plugs, check dams and reservoirs were constructed to catch and harvest rain water.
Drip irrigation was introduced. Tree felling and over grazing were banned. Energy needs were solved through solar power and Bio gas. Strict social discipline and community participation was inculcated. Such case studies prove that water crisis on earth can be solved by integrating technology and community participation. RALEGAN SIDDHI – A CASE STUDY A MODEL OF RALEGAN A VILLAGE THAT DEFEATED WATER LET US CATCH CONSERVE & HARVEST WATER TO DEFEAT Ralegan Siddhi an arid destitute village of India has been transformed into one of the richest village by adopting these watershed
Management and irrigation techniques. The transformation began in 1975. Storage ponds, staggered trenches, percolation ponds, gully plugs, check dams and reservoirs were constructed to catch and harvest rain water. Drip irrigation was introduced. Tree felling and over grazing were banned. Energy needs were solved through solar power and Bio gas. Strict social discipline and community participation was inculcated. Such case studies prove that water crisis on earth can be solved by integrating technology and community participation. RALEGAN SIDDHI – A CASE STUDY