What is water conservation and what can I do about it?

WaterAid/ Dieter Telemans

In India, Groundwater provides 80% of India’s drinking water and nearly two-thirds of irrigation needs1. While rainfall is considered to be one of the primary sources of fresh water, it is not conserved in an appropriate manner, leading to scarcity of water across the country. Studies show that the water situation could be different if rainwater is harvested in an appropriate way.

The increasing decline in the level of groundwater, in many parts of the country, is leading to a lot of unsustainability. It has been observed that in some parts of the country the water levels are declining by over one meter each year. Additionally, lack of proper wastewater treatment from industrial, mining, and domestic sources is resulting in increased contamination of groundwater, leading to potential threats to humans as well as the ecosystems.

Irrespective of the proximity to a water body, there are states that still face water shortage. An evident example of this is Uttar Pradesh. Despite its close proximity to the Ganges, the state still faces water shortage due to lack of water conservation methods.

Water Conservation and WaterAid India

Water is a crucial resource for the country today. It is thus essential to not only conserve water but also use it effectively. Due to the growing population, increasing industrialisation, and escalating agriculture scenario, the demand for water has clearly increased over the years. Thus, water conservation is evidently the need of the hour. Although efforts are being made by building dams, wells, and reservoirs, there is still a long way to go.

If the situation persists, clean water is predestined to become one of the rarest commodities soon. So, the people need to be educated about the significance of storing, recycling and reusing water. WaterAid India’s initiative in making water, sanitation, and hygiene accessible for all, endeavours to address the water problems across some of the most marginalised areas.

WaterAid’s approach to conserving water focuses on –

  • Building the capacity of local government and community members;
  • Mapping of water resources and their usage;
  • Motivating the communities to adopt water conservation practices, such as rainwater harvesting;
  • Water budgeting2 and allocation;
  • Improving access to water supply by leveraging government resources; and
  • Advocacy for regulations of water use in water stressed areas and protection of groundwater.

WaterAid India also provides technical support to the local partners and communities across the areas of our work. Capacity building, preparing knowledge banks and behaviour change communication documents, joint impact monitoring and research for community based process are some of the highlights of our work.

The communities and its people are the backbone of WaterAid’s work. Thus, the key to drinking water security lies with the community. By promoting locally owned and managed drinking water sources, water issues are addressed at a larger scale. These plans are simple, and can be used, monitored and managed by the people and local governments.

1. Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 2016 Report.

2. Water budgeting refers to the calculated amount of water a household will require based on the size of the family, number and types of fixtures, and landscape needs.