Resources, Water Availability, Water Quality, Water purification, Desalination, Cleaning of Rivers/lakes, Use and conservation, Recycling and reuse technologies.
Water covers over 70% of earth’s surface however, more than 97% of this water is saline. Hence, there is water scarcity in several parts of the world today and is expected to increase as the population grows. Growing cities, population and climate change are placing unprecedented pressures on freshwater resource. In most parts of the world, water supply is uneven, unreliable and often contaminated. Due to poorly designed water systems, perverse incentives and lack of knowledge, water is frequently wasted or used unsustainably. The care and management of water systems is central to the development of sustainability.
Surface water, ground water and aquatic ecosystems are under heavy pressure as populations grow and people use water for agriculture, industries and domestic purposes as well as to dispose wastes. Rivers have a special place in the lives of the citizens of our Country. The spiritual reverence for rivers remains high but their health has severely degraded. Rapid growth in urbanization and industrialization to support the growing population and economy has polluted our rivers like never before due to indiscriminate disposal of domestic, industrial, agricultural and mining wastes. Apart from depletion in fisheries this poses a serious health hazard as millions of people continue to depend on them for their domestic needs.
The Oceans to which we owe our very existence are facing the assault of human interference. Massive industrial fishing operations have rapidly depleted several fish stocks with a steady decline in catches since 1988. Increasing stress of pollutants such as nitrogen-rich fertilizers has lead to oxygen-poor, algae-choked 'dead zones' as well as harmful algal blooms in some marine areas. Trash and plastics indiscriminately discarded have caused pollution of the beaches. Pesticides, antibiotics, phenols, petroleum and a variety of other chemicals washed into oceans are accumulated in organisms with unknown consequences to species up and down the food chain. Marine release of untreated sewage has made coastal waters unsafe for swimming. Worldwide transport of alien species and their proliferation has serious consequences to local biodiversity and collapse of fisheries has occurred in some marine areas. An increase in the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere is making seawater more acidic thereby altering marine ecosystems including plankton and corals. Warming of seawater by just 0.1-0.2 ºC has pushed coral reefs towards die-off.
Climate change is also altering the supply and distribution of fresh water due to increase in frequency of droughts, flooding and melting glaciers. All these are causing a global water crisis. These challenges are to be met by thinking of innovative ways of water use, conservation, development and equal availability. Some of the methods include rainwater harvesting, farm ponds, conservation of natural springs and damming of rivers.
The challenges of water crisis necessitate innovation and development of water management tools and strategies. These could include water foot prints and audits to identify water wastage and provide avenues for conservation. Several industries are paying attention to optimal water use and recycling to improve their efficiency as well as contributing to the welfare of the communities and ecosystems around them. Green buildings and innovative technologies are making water conservation an essential component of our homes, schools and businesses. NGOs are working with communities to develop and offer solutions to deal with water scarcity and pollution. Educators are promoting water awareness towards a sustainable future to address the growing water challenges. UN celebrated 22 nd March 2016 as World Water Day to bring to attention that water is an integral part of our lives. Sustainable water resource management is necessary to provide clean water and sanitation, improved quality and quantity of food, good health and in turn provide opportunities for work.
Our fresh water, weather, climate, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the ocean. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.