The environment and its problems are ignored the most in our country. While everybody is focused on corruption and anti-national activities, people ignore our most basic and life threatening problems such as the fast depleting ground water. The groundwater in India is exploited everyday to an alarming level for the purpose of irrigation and domestic use. While we in our homes, take showers for hours at end and leave the tap running while brushing our teeth, hydrologists around the world and in India are in panic over the disastrous depletion which is happening at a pace much faster than the replenishing rate. NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) has been a primary reason for reaching this conclusion.
Major steps need to be taken to prevent this fast approaching disaster which will result in complete collapse and failure of agricultural output and availability of potable water, destroying the lives of 114 million residents of our nation.
What is Ground Water?
It is the water that is found beneath the soil. Typically contained among the permeable rock, sand and clay, the reserves can be found to expand to over hundred feet. Many times these reserves are created due to accumulation of water over thousands of years. This happens when the water percolates through the soil and reached these areas. Typically this is replenished by the water that falls on the surfaces during rainfall and other natural processes.
It is one of those sources of water which is unaffected by changes in weather. Since no direct evaporation, condensation and precipitation happens here, it can only be replenished by water that percolates through the soil. To maintain a stable water table, there needs to be a balance between the replenishing rate and the usage. Since there are limited ways of recharging the groundwater, it takes much longer to replenish it.
GROUND WATER IN INDIA
The ground water reserves in India are at an all-time low. States such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab are the worst affected. These are those states which have a heavy population that needs water, and are in a phase of rapid economic development. More importantly, Punjab and Haryana and other parts of North western India are the fertile areas and are the grain producing states. These states were the biggest beneficiaries of the Green Revolution which is believed to be another reason for this quick depletion. Agriculture and irrigation are known to use approximately 95% of the groundwater in these regions.
The data available with the Indian Ministry of Water Resources has indicated that the usage rate of ground water is much higher than the replenishing rate.
A study conducted by Hydrologists in NASA with the help of GRACE has provided data on this. Based on analysis of six years of monthly data acquired through GRACE, they found that the ground water has been declining much faster, at the rate of one foot peer year. According to this data, the water extradition at its current rate is not sustainable in India. The rate of fast declining water will affect the agricultural production and make for life in India very difficult. This research was done after taking into account several other factors such as storage in lakes and reservoirs, vegetation, glaciers and soil moisture. No natural factor could be found to explain the depletion. The only reason to be found was human activity.
There are things that people in their ordinary lives can do to help this problem and make it less of a threat. Simple lifestyle changes are available. Here are some things you can do at your home:
- It’s natural for faucets and toilets to develop leaks and drips. Rather than ignoring it, get it fixed. Tons of water is wasted when you let the leak be and don’t fix it.
- Be mindful of your baths. No, you don’t need to spend half an hour showering. You can clean yourself equally well if you come out of the shower in ten minutes. Using fifty liters where you could have done with twenty liters will not make you cleaner, it will only make you waste more.
- Be careful of the chemicals you use around the house and their disposal. Avoid using chemicals wherever possible and be very careful during disposal. A common habit in the Indian masses is to dump the waste outside the house. This is disastrous for the environment and the water levels. Chemicals should be disposed properly.
- Avoid letting the water run. This is the biggest cause of wastage of water. Many people have an annoying habit of letting the water run while their brushing their teeth, or shaving or washing utensils. Shut the water off when you don’t need it. It’s a resource you can’t live without so avoid wasting it however possible.
- Indulge in water harvesting. It’s a simple process and the tools and material required for water harvesting is very easily available. All you need to do is put in a little effort. Water harvesting will save you a lot of money and help the environment a great deal especially in the monsoon season.