The ongoing River Cauvery Water Dispute between the two Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that is currently making the headlines, cannot be viewed as an isolated event. The country’s huge and growing population is putting a huge strain on our natural resources, including potable water.
Some estimates say that India, which has 16% of world’s population but only 4% of its fresh water sources, will run out of drinking water by 2040.
While there is no simple solution to this complex problem, there are some practices we as responsible travellers can adopt, during our travels and also while at home. Here are a few pointers:
- Minimizing Direct Consumption:
A major portion of the water we directly consume goes into flushing, bathing & showering, and doing laundry. Keeping the tap closed while brushing teeth, shaving and applying soap on our hands, opting for a shower for lesser than ten minutes using a low flow shower-head, using the half-flush option as much as possible, and minimizing the number of times we change clothes (to minimize laundry) are some of the ways to keep our direct consumption of water low.
- Managing our “Virtual Water” Consumption:
Virtual water means the water consumed to produce items that we consume. One part of this is the water used to produce everyday products like paper and clothes, the production of which requires a good amount of water. Abstinence is the key to preserving water in this case. The second aspect of the “Virtual Water” consumption, which constitutes a staggering 92% of our total water consumption, is related to the food we eat. Producing a kilogram of beef in the industrial production system, for example, requires 15,400 litres of water; a kilo of coffee requires 18,900 litres and a kg of cheese – 3180 litres. Minimizing our intake of meat products, quenching our thirst with water rather than wine or other alcoholic beverages, and taking care not to waste food are some of the ways to curtail our virtual water consumption. Virtual Water, WaterPrint and H2OTracker are some great apps to help track individual water usage.
- Choosing water-conscious stay options:
Many eco-friendly hotels adopt water conservation, recycling and harvesting methods and, hotel certifications like Ecotel and LEED (that such hotels aspire for) mandate such practices. The Orchid, Mumbai has a sewage treatment plan that treats waste water and utilizes it for air conditioning and gardening; SwaSwara in Gokarna, Karnataka uses only harvested rainwater for its farm and swimming pool and has adopted practices like rainwater harvesting and recycling waste water in the garden; The Park, New Delhi is equipped with e VFD system to maintain water pressure so as to avoid wastage; and the Banasura Hill Resort, Wayanad has a rainwater harvesting system fulfils the entire resort water requirements, are some of the many water conscious hotels across the country. Look out for such conscious stay options, and ask about their water saving practices before deciding to book their services.
- Writing about it:
Despite the gravity, not much is being written or discussed about this aspect in the tourism circles. If you’re a traveller, rate your stay on TripAdvisor and Airbnb based on the water conservation practices where you stayed.If you prefer writing a review, Alpaviram offers a great platform to responsible travellers for sharing their experiences.
– Text by Ritesh Datta