In India today, the trends of urbanisation and population growth place enormous pressure on our water sources’ abilities to replenish themselves while meeting everyone’s needs. In the city of Bangalore, for instance, depleting surface water availability has driven demand for groundwater, which has drawn down the city’s water tables and left many borewells dry. Some residential communities across the city find themselves needing to purchase from unregulated and expensive private water trucks to meet their basic needs. In this context, the importance of recognising water as a finite and fragile resource, rather than a limitless commodity, cannot be overstated.
In the absence of a concerted centralised effort to manage water sustainably, more and more residents and institutions are recognizing a need to take steps toward safeguarding their own long-term water security. A result of these efforts is the emergence of a new framework for sustainable, decentralised water management.
The critical elements of this framework include:
1. Water Conservation and Demand Management – Cutting back on water use and wastewater discharge at the individual and collective levels is at the heart of water sustainability.
2. Groundwater Management – Groundwater is acknowledged as a common property resource that must not be indiscriminately “mined”. Special consideration is given to replenishing aquifers and limiting the digging of new borewells.
3. Wastewater Management – Wastewater should be discharged at a quality as close as possible to that of the source water. If not, the pollutants released may eventually contaminate our sources. It is also important to explore potential wastewater reuses.