Water conservation - A viable option to improve water availability - Solution Exchange paper

Expansion of irrigated areas and rapid industrialisation cause water shortages? A paper here argues the possibilities and contradictions of Water Conservation.

This paper from the recommended documentation section of the  Solution Exchange for the Water Community Discussion Summary on the preparation of the strategic plan for rural drinking water by the Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development, is directed at stakeholders, planners, managers and consumers.

The paper argues on the importance of water conservation in the context of the increasing water shortages that the country has been facing in recent years because of expansion of irrigated areas and rapid industrialisation.

The article argues that water conservation practices need to be encouraged and improved through research, effective regulations, information dissemination and incentives to the end user and more emphasis needs to be placed on adequate coverage, quality monitoring and collection of field level data. 

The article makes  a few suggestions for improving conservation practices at the community level. These include:

  • Encouraging participation of beneficiaries: Placing more emphasis at the community level and encouraging  participation of people, particularly women and making the community as a whole realise the importance of efficient use of water.
  • Saving irrigation water: The agricultural sector is the largest consumer of water and, therefore, needs to be focused for water conservation practices
  • Saving industrial water: The industries should be encouraged to purify their water and to reutilise the once used water and to dispose off effluent safely, avoiding natural water resources.
  • Limiting evaporation: Evaporation from open water bodies and reservoirs constitutes a major constraint in the efficient use of water. Suitable evaporation retardation or suppression practices must be adopted for limiting evaporation
  • Augmenting aquifer recharge: Efforts at large scale artificial recharge can have the potential for storing water underground with minimum evaporation and surface storage facility.
  • Use of non-conventional water sources: For example,  treated municipal wastewater, agriculture drainage and brackish/ saline ground water etc., can be encouraged for supplemental use in agricultural irrigation after treatment. 
  • Capacity building: To develop skilled manpower, encourage field level training and live demonstrations of rational water use through modern irrigation methods, advice on soil moisture & crop water requirement etc.

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