Conservation of Water Resources in India

Conservation of Water Resources in India
Posted on 21-08-2023

Water Resource Conservation

Given the decreasing availability of freshwater and escalating demand, it's crucial to conserve and effectively manage this essential resource for sustainable development.

Preventing Water Pollution

The National Water Quality Monitoring Programme, led by the Central Pollution Control Board and states, monitors water quality in rivers and water bodies through a network of stations. Continual efforts to clean and rejuvenate rivers involve treating sewage and industrial effluents to prescribed norms before discharge to prevent pollution. Financial and technical assistance, like the Namami Gange scheme and National River Conservation Plan, supports pollution abatement in rivers. Effective implementation of legislative acts like the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Environment Protection Act 1986 is vital. Creating public awareness about water's importance and pollution effects is imperative.

Recycling and Reusing Water

Industries can use reclaimed wastewater for cooling and firefighting. In urban areas, water from bathing and washing can be repurposed for gardening. Only 30% of India's wastewater is currently recycled.

Watershed Management

Efficiently managing surface and groundwater through methods like percolation tanks and recharge wells is watershed management. Haryali, a Central Government-sponsored project executed by Gram Panchayats, empowers rural communities to conserve water for various purposes.


Enhancing water use efficiency via techniques like sprinklers and drip irrigation is essential. Dryland agricultural techniques are valuable in regions with low rainfall.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting captures rain for various uses and groundwater recharge. It boosts water availability, improves groundwater quality, prevents erosion and flooding, and curbs saltwater intrusion. Both rural and urban areas benefit from this practice.

Other Measures

Addressing water scarcity in coastal and arid areas involves desalination and river interlinking.

Policy Initiatives for Water Conservation in India

The National Water Policy (2012) advocates rainwater harvesting and water conservation. The Central Ground Water Authority regulates and controls groundwater management. The 'Jal Shakti Abhiyan' launched in 2019 focuses on water conservation, traditional water body renovation, water reuse, watershed development, and afforestation. The Atal Bhujal Yojana funds sustainable groundwater management in water-stressed areas. The Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater (2020) outlines structures for different terrains. National Water awards, mass awareness programs, and government schemes support water conservation efforts.

India's Water Resources and Conservation Efforts

Over the past decade, regions historically abundant in water like parts of Kerala have experienced droughts. The key factor behind this phenomenon has been the persistent deforestation of the Western Ghats. Even areas renowned for heavy rainfall, such as Cherrapunji, now face severe water scarcity.

In various parts of India and other developing nations, women and children spend significant portions of their lives fetching water from distant sources. This substantial loss of manpower could be curbed through improved water conservation and distribution methods.

Deforestation has led to increased river siltation, reducing water-holding capacities and causing river overflow and flooding in neighboring areas. Dense vegetation helps minimize runoff and aids groundwater recharge.

An impressive 1,683 million cubic meters of water flow through Indian rivers annually, yet a staggering 70% of available water is polluted. Water-related diseases result in around 73 million lost workdays.

Domestic sewage releases four times more waste into water bodies than industries do. Waterborne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea make up 66% of all diseases in India.

Three-fourths of water consumption is allocated for cleaning and washing, eventually becoming sewage. This could be reduced by more efficient water usage and redirecting kitchen and bath water for gardening or agriculture, ensuring ample water during the summer months.

Urban families consume six times more water compared to rural households. Excessive groundwater extraction near coastlines can lead to saltwater intrusion, forcing abandonment of many wells.

Key Facts About Water Resources:

  • 75% of rainfall occurs during the monsoon season (June - October). Tamil Nadu receives rain from the Northeast Monsoon.

  • Approximately 85-90% of rainfall flows into the sea.

  • By 2000, 40% of cultivated land will lack irrigation.

  • Unrestrained dam construction threatens to eliminate free-flowing rivers.

  • 71% of water is lost from unlined canals due to seepage.

  • High infant mortality rates are linked to waterborne infections.

  • Nitrate contamination from chemical agriculture affects freshwater.

  • Many lakes and reservoirs suffer from eutrophication, harming aquatic life.

  • Untreated water leads to 25,000 daily deaths in developing countries.

  • Earth's total water volume is estimated at 1500 million km³.

Water Conservation Strategies:

To prevent water wastage, leaky taps should be promptly repaired and all taps should be closed when not in use. Hand pumps must be maintained well, and overhead storage tanks should be in good condition.

Rainwater can be collected and stored for domestic needs. Canals and tanks should be desilted during summers, and tree protection around these structures should be encouraged. Afforestation on hilly slopes can combat drought and soil erosion.

Farmers can conserve water by practicing off-season tillage, early sowing, moderate fertilization, pest control, and timely harvesting. Mulching and terrace cultivation prevent runoff, while green manuring and crop rotation retain soil moisture.

Irrigation methods like sprinklers and drip systems save significant water. Rainwater harvesting in small ponds ensures summer water supply. All of these efforts are effective only if properly executed.

Water-Saving Tips:

  • Seal taps tightly and fix leaks promptly.

  • Reduce toilet cistern capacity using bricks or install efficient flush toilets.

  • Check for toilet leaks using food coloring.

  • Don't leave taps running while brushing, shaving, or washing.

  • Use buckets instead of showers for bathing.

  • Wash vegetables and reuse water for plants.

  • Utilize cooking water from vegetables for rice or dhal.

  • Clean vehicles with a bucket and sponge to save water.

By implementing these measures, India can better manage its water resources and alleviate water-related challenges.


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