Business, Economics and Jobs

GreenTalk: India emphasizing dams, wastewater treatment over conservation

India's water woes are set to get dramatically worse over the next decade -- if for no other reason than that nobody is making any more water, and the population keeps on growing, the Hindustan Times reports.

But according to a new report from the Center for Science and Environment, India is still fantasizing that wastewater treatment plants, big dams, longer pipes, and even massive diversions of water like a project to interlink some of the country's largest river systems can solve its problems. And as a result, the simplest measures of water conservation are being ignored.

It's something I witness firsthand every day in my apartment complex. For the better part of an hour, when our municipal water supply comes, all of my neighbors switch on auxiliary pumps to pipe it up to tanks on their roofs. Five to 10 minutes after the supply begins, virtually every tank is overflowing -- costly purified water gushing into the drains at gallons per second. And the waste continues for an hour, until the government switches off the tap.

What's the logic? We run our pump once a day, too, because our landlord has warned us that it will break if we don't use it. But we don't let it run and run while water gushes down the drain. Maybe the other folks are too lazy to look out the window? Perhaps they've deputed the job to a servant, without the injunction to avoid waste?  It defies logic, since water isn't free, and the electricity used to run the pumps is extremely costly.

Sadly, the CSE report suggests it hardly matters, if Delhi is like other Indian cities.  In Hyderabad, Bangalore, Udaipur and Bhubaneswar, over 40% of water is wasted in transfer and distribution losses, according to the CSE study. This automatically doubles production costs.