Water is a precious resource. And in our day and age, its dwindling supply can no longer be overlooked. This World Water Day, we intend to explore nature-based solutions to tackle the challenges posed by our times. These solutions provide us with a sustainable and cost-effective way of restoring balance to the water cycle and diminishing the effects of climate change.
Increasing Demand, Dwindling Supply
The demand for water keeps growing every day while the water reserves remain the same. The wide gap between demand and supply is predicted to get even wider over the years. The global water demand is estimated to rise 30% higher than the current demand. While today there are approximately 1.9 billion people living in potentially severe water-scarce areas, the number is expected to rise to 3 billion people by 2050 with the rising population. About 2.1 billion people around the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services.
To add to this predicament, we have society-generated wastewater flowing into the environment untreated. More than 80% of this wastewater enters our environment.
Of the water available to us, 70% flows into agriculture, 20% is consumed by industries for manufacturing and energy, and all that is available for domestic use is the remaining 10%. Less than 1% is used for drinking purposes.
Turning back to Nature
With the ever-present water crunch, people are looking desperately for means to remedy the situation. In this frantic search for a sustainable solution, we have come upon nature-based solutions that include everything from increasing vegetation along watercourses to restoring forests and grasslands. While these solutions do not directly tackle the critical water-related challenges they do help with the management of water quality and availability. They also help reduce pollution and protect the environment.
Nature-Based Solutions to the Rescue
Nature-based solutions can help in several ways and are a more sustainable solution to the water crisis. Certain nature-based solutions create ‘green infrastructure’ that are natural alternatives to human-built ‘grey infrastructure’ and give us equivalent or similar benefits.
When it comes to storing water, nature-based solutions are more cost-effective and sustainable. Natural wetlands, soil moisture and groundwater recharging are some of the alternatives to grey infrastructure like dams.
Preserving water quality and reducing pollution caused by agricultural activities is possible with nature-based solutions like conservation agriculture and riparian buffers. Conservation agriculture prevents erosion. Riparian buffers are native trees and shrubs that are planted along watercourses. These buffers help protect the waterbody from nonpoint source pollution. They also help mitigate extreme flooding caused by climate change.
The benefits of nature-based solutions extend beyond water-related services. They help improve the environment too and are a more long-lasting and sustainable alternative to ‘grey infrastructure’.
Do Your Bit from Home
While all of the above systems are extremely effective for the conservation of water on a large scale, here are some things you can do to save water at home.
- Don’t leave the tap running
According to EPA, bathroom faucets run at about 7 litres of water a minute. Turn off the faucet while you’re scrubbing dishes, brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face. You can save hundreds of gallons a month if you don’t let the tap run needlessly. If you’re dealing with a leaky faucet, fix it. Even a slow drip wastes 75 litres of water a day.
- Re-use water
The water you use to rinse your fruits and veggies can be easily used to water the plants in your home.
- Time your showers
Try and keep your showers to five minutes or less.
- Capture rainwater
Rainwater harvesting is a great way to collect water for domestic purposes. You can use this water to water your plants and for other purposes like washing clothes & utensils etc.
Water is a basic necessity and fundamental to life. Hence, water should be easily available to all. Let’s take the necessary steps towards a more ‘water-secure’ future where people have access to clean water for all their needs.