Fighting Water Scarcity: Your Cool Glass of Sparkling Pure Drinking Water on Your Table has the Answer. How?

Prof. Arvind Shukla (View Full Profile)
Chairperson, Doctoral Programmes

Professor of Marketing, BIMTECH



The World War III, they say, will be fought for water and we should do everything to avoid another World War. In this scenario, saving every drop of water from wastage is one of the best ways to fight water scarcity.

In India, scarcity of pure drinking water or for that matter, just simple water is not new to us, or news anymore. We have been grappling with the problem for many decades now, and it only seems to have grown worst with time. In fact, just last year many Indian cities went totally dry during summer.

Residents of these cities faced many hardships. Going by the past experience, the situation is not likely to be any different this year too, only it may be worst. One very important solution, is to reduce wastage of water.

Remember, every drop saved adds to available water.  Every drop of wastage should be avoided. It is here that each one of us can play a big role in our fight against water scarcity. No, I am not suggesting things like switching off the tap while brushing your teeth.

For, I believe, cutting wastage where it is the highest can actually be much more effective as a weapon in this fight. Can you think of where in your household is maximum water wasted–daily, day-on-day and in huge quantity? Well, the cool glass of sparkling pure drinking water on your table has the answer. 

What is resulting in huge wastage of water behind this glass in the way we make it pure and safe for ourselves… yes, the RO system that we use to get our pure drinking water is the main culprit. For every glass of pure drinking water drawn from an RO, nearly 3 glasses of impure water is thrown out of the system as reject water which flows out in the drain.

To estimate the quantum of wastage just look at this rough calculation. A family of four, like mine, living in a high-rise society of about 1000 flats draw out about 15 litres of pure water from the RO daily which is used for drinking and cooking purpose. This means that every family throws out 45 litres of impure/ waste water in the drain daily.

A quick calculation at the back of the envelope tells me that the society of 1000 flats is draining away 42 lacs gallons of waste every year. The wastage is mind boggling.

Even if a fraction of this water wastage is avoid or reused, as a nation, water scarcity can soon become a thing of the past. This could be our winning blow in the fight against water security.

There are however, a few challenges to meet before we win.

Each one of us have to choose to take proactive steps to prevent the wastage by reusing the reject water for such purposes for which it is totally usable.

While each family can reuse reject water for washing utensils and clothes, gardening, mopping etc. such uses have operational problems which will have to be taken care of. Apart from operational problems, reuse of reject water faces attitudinal hurdles as well. People have reservations in reusing RO-reject water. So, while operational problems could be easily handled, attitudinal ones may actually prove a hard nut to crack.

It is here that I have my main suggestion. To overcome the operational and attitudinal problems in the reuse of RO-reject water, I suggest reuse of the reject water for groundwater recharging. This, in fact, will go a very long way at arresting water scarcity. I also suggest a simple way to functionalize groundwater recharging from RO-reject water from every flat in every society.

What needs to be done for this is simple. A plastic drain pipe connected to the each flat near the RO system can collect the reject water from each RO in a soak pit made below each tower. Such a pit has been tested and found to be very effective in recharging groundwater. A flat dweller only needs to connect the ‘blue RO-reject water’ pipe to this special drain and complete his bit in this national fight against water scarcity.

In this article, however I wish to suggest 2 initiatives at institutional level which will promote such reuse of reject water effortlessly by each flat dweller

One of these initiatives concerns the Municipal Corporation of the city. It is the MC which approves the plans of new societies being constructed in the corporation area by builders big and small. Every Municipal Corporation should make it mandatory on the builders to make the provision of ‘RO-Reject water drain pipe’ in every tower from every flat and a soak pit below every tower as a pre condition for the passing the plan of any new society coming up in their area. This will greatly facilitate saving reject water for ground water recharging in all new construction in future. (Figure I)

The second initiative concerns the builders themselves. Every builder should take up providing for RO-reject water reuse as suggested in all their new projects themselves. A marginal increase in the cost of flat for making the provision can be easily charged to the buyer and will go almost unnoticed in the entire transaction. The builders can also initiate the provision in older societies built by them earlier as a part of their CSR funds

In this way two simple initiatives of the Municipal Corporations and the builders coupled with the small commitment by each flat owner can become a death blow for the demon of water scarcity. Let us all do this – now!

#rainwaterharvesting  #groundwater  #watercrisis #water

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