Waste water is produced in almost every home and industry, which somehow has been finding its way into our fresh water bodies, thus adding another concern to our long list of things that ail the planet. Our constant development has come at the cost of generation of large quantities of wastewater.
This certainly raises questions about what the country still needs to work on. We have been misusing or overusing water resources, and hence creating a lot of wastewater that is ultimately haunting our rivers and oceans. According to ‘UN Fact Sheet on Water day 2017’, it was reported that over 80 per cent of wastewater flows back into the system without being treated or reused, on a global scale. This combined with 1.8 billion people using a source of drinking water that is highly contaminated, puts a large chunk of life on the planet at risk from a multitude of diseases. Around 842,000 deaths occur each year due to inability to access potable water, poor sanitation and hygiene.
With so much pollution in our rivers and other water bodies, the situation is set to deteriorate as the population expands within the country. In addition, rapid urbanisation and lack of proper waste water disposal and treatment will worsen the water crisis in the future. According to Dr P. K. Joshi, a professor of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, “20 per cent of diseases are caused by unhygienic water. Adding to this woe is the issue of open defecation”
Waste water is generated at all levels- at homes, at workplaces, and at industrial levels. This wastewater is also responsible at times for contamination of fresh water, thus increasingly adding to the woes of people. In a conversation with us, Sandeep Behera, Consultant – Biodiversity at NMCG at Ministry of Water Resources said, “A lot of Indian cities lack proper sewerage system. In certain places like Moradabad, most of the household and industrial effluents are passed into the water, without any treatment.” He further added that certain stretches of Ganga, like one between Kanpur to Kolkata, are very polluted. The reason behind this is that Ganga’s tributaries, Ramganga and Kali Ganga bring in a lot of wastewater and toxic effluents, damaging the aquatic life, and disrupting potable water supply. With a lack of proper channels of access to safe drinking water, people have to make do with this polluted water, leading to diseases such as typhoid and cholera.
Even though the government has now been focusing on the issue, a solution for a this vast and deeply rooted problem will not be possible without help from the citizens. Learning how to process wastewater can certainly take us a long way and help conserve water. Learning the 3R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle is thus important.
Learning about water conservation techniques and the heritage of water management systems is important in understanding what can be done to improve the situation. Waste water can be curbed at a personal level by some simple steps like reusing the water used to wash vegetable and fruits in washrooms or to wash cars etc; water that is used to wash hands can be used in flushes that otherwise use up a lot of water.
Regularly checking for leaks is also important to ensure no wastage of clean water. For industrial waste effluents, it should be mandatory to treat them especially in the case of poisonous heavy metals and thermal discharge so they are not longer a concern for the local aquatic population as well.
By ensuring active awareness and making simple steps, we can prevent a lot of water wastage and hence help keep the ecosystem healthy!