We’re Running Out of Water! Can we Wake Up and Act?

Ramchandra Guha recently wrote this evocative piece that talks about Bangalore’s water supply woes over the year and paints a pretty bleak picture of where the city’s water crisis is headed. The severity and urgency of the situation has prompted even PM Modi to launch a new Jal Shakti ministry and encourage citizens to spread awareness and explore new ideas for conservation.

Last month, Chennai’s severe water shortage made headlines as the city ran out of water. Things quickly got into crisis mode as companies were forced to take measures such as asking employees to work from home, limiting the use of water for non-essential purpose, and recycling greywater for use in toilets, etc.

Over the next few years, we can expect such occurrences to become increasingly commonplace in Indian cities. According to the Composite Water Management Index report, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020. This list includes cities such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. This water shortage will impact 100 million people. 40 percent of India’s population will have no access to drinking water by 2030. These numbers are highly alarming, and if we don’t do anything, we could be staring at a waterless (and therefore lifeless) future.

Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali said back in 2003 that “Water will be more important than oil this century.” He had also predicted that the next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics. The more the water crisis unfolds, the more this prediction rings true. Should we expect some James Bond (Quantum of Solace) type water wars in the future?

It’s going to take effort from everyone – individuals, organizations, and the government to reverse this issue and look toward a sustainable future. What can we do? Here are a few things that might help:

  • Use Less Water!
  • Take Water Recycling and Conservation Seriously
  • Awareness and Education

Despite the magnitude of the water crisis issue, most people think of it as ‘their’ problem. If we want our cities to be sustainable, we need to act now!