The coming water disaster

Scary how we behave like mere consumers with a sense of entitlement towards “Cauvery Water” – like its unlimited, and meant purely for our own consumption. The notion of responsibility, sharing and controlled usage does not enter our heads. We’ve been gifted with numerous lakes, which we’ve killed. We’ve managed to lose a complete river with our greed and short sightedness. And yet we do not learn. Its a problem that needs a demand side fix as much as it needs a supply side one.

The Catskill Mountains near New York are the primary catchment area for its water supply. New York has consciously taken to acquiring large tracts of land up there for natural preservation of the region, and in turn its water needs! Recently, they’ve demonstrated that even financially, the long terms benefits of this move have outweighed the costs they would have paid for the water related issues they would’ve faced without this. Can we do this in Coorg and Wayanad before we clamour for a larger share of the Cauvery ? Can we first ensure the health of what we’ve been gifted with, and demonstrate that we actually deserve these ?

If you see the movie, it explains in great detail how those who use water the most pay the least for it. Those without access to BWSSB water end up paying nearly 300 per kilolitre! Even tanker water is at 50/- pe kl and BWSSB supply starts at 6/-, ridiculously lower than the 35/- per kl that it costs to pump it up from 100 kms away, with almost a 500m ascent up to Bangalore! Unless we pay more for it, and more equitably, there’s little likelihood of us learning to conserve it, recycle it, and make the best use of rainwater etc. 

Groundwater,  which Bangalore uses at a ferocious rate to meet more than half its demand, is under even more strain. Its a ‘historic’ resource, since the deeper you go, the ‘older’ the water thats percolated in. Its critical that we not only appreciate these differences, but pay much much more for more historical water, and make as hard an attempt as we can to replenish it as we draw water from the shallower aquifers themselves.

We may soon get real broadband at affordable rates. We’re already benefiting from the telecom revolution. But basic stuff like water – thats in our own hands. Its a hard hitting movie – try getting a copy and watching it. Really scary.

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