Let us save every drop of water

Water conservation means using our water wisely and caring for it properly. Since each of us depends on water for life, it is our responsibility to learn more about water conservation and how we can help keep our water pure and safe for generations to come. Since we all enjoy the benefits of having pure, clean water, we must help conserve water so that we may continue to enjoy these benefits. Water is life because plants and animals cannot live without water. Water is needed to ensure food security, feed livestock, maintain organic life, take up industrial production and to conserve the biodiversity and environment. Hence, there is no life without water. With the God’s gifted earth is the only planet, so far we know that it posses water and this makes it fit for human living and other living organisms to exist on it. This precious substance which are not properly utilize by mankind and increasing demand due to growing population and unsuitable lifestyle, many countries are facing sever water crisis. Year by year per capita availability of water is decreasing which threats to human life in many ways. If proper planning and corrective measures are not taken up in the proper place and proper time many developing countries including India will have to face declining in food production and water security in the near future.

Long before, when the population was low and lifestyle was simple, water was available in plenty and was considered as a free resource. However, with growing demand for water and depletion of the available water, assured supply of good quality water is becoming a growing concern. As the water resources are not evenly distributed, across different continents, some countries have surplus water while many countries are in deficit.

Although, India is not a water poor country, due to growing human population, severe neglect and over-exploitation of this resource, water is becoming a scarce commodity. India is more vulnerable because of the growing population and in-disciplined lifestyle. This calls for immediate attention by the stakeholders to make sustainable use of the available water resources.

Global Freshwater Scenario

Global freshwater reserves are rapidly depleting and this is expected to significantly impact any densely populated areas of the world. Low to middle income developing regions as well as highly developed countries will face water stress in the future, unless existing water reserves are managed effectively. The total volume of water on planet is 326,000,000 cubic miles. Out of the total water on the earth 97.5% is in the oceans and only 2.5% of the water on earth is freshwater. Nearly 70% of the freshwater on earth is permanently frozen in glaciers and at the polar ice caps. Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (~0.007% of all water on earth) is accessible for direct human uses. This is the water found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and those underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost.

Among various continents, Asia has 36% of the available fresh water reserves, with over 60% of the world population where water is a scarce commodity. Compared to Asia, Africa is in a better situation, where 13% of the population has access to 11% of the fresh water reserves.

Australia and Oceana have plenty of water with 1% population owning 5% of the fresh water reserves, followed by North and Central America, with 8% population and 15% water reserves and South America with 6% global population and 26% fresh water reserves. Table 1 presents the per capita water use in different continents. The data highlights a close correlation between economic prosperity and water use.

Table 1: Per Capita Water Use


Per Capita Water Use (m3/year)





North and C. America


South America




USSR (former)


Major consumption of water is for agriculture, industrial production and domestic purposes, apart from being used for fishery, hydro-power generation, transportation and maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance. The proportion of water used for agriculture and industries varies from country to country depending on the lifestyle, extent of industrial development and water use efficiency as presented in Table 2. Developing countries are using comparatively less water for agriculture and more for industrial and domestic purposes, while the developing countries in Asia and Africa use 80-90% of the water for agriculture and only 5-12% of the water for industrial use. This is reflecting on inefficient use of water in agriculture and poor investments in industrial development.

Table 2: Current Water Usage

Usage (%)




















India’s Water Budget

The basic source of water is precipitation in the form of rainfall or snowfall. India’s average annual rainfall is about 119.4 cm which falls over the geographical area of 328 million-ha, which makes total amount of water to 392 million ha-m. If we include snowfall, if may be rounded off to 400 million-ha-m (M ha-m). Out of the total volume of water 300 M ha-m receives during monsoon months and rest receives during non monsoon months. Out of the total precipitation immediate loss to the evaporation is 70 M ha-m, percolation into the soil is 215 M ha-m and contribution to the surface water is 115 M ha-m.

Total annual available surface water flows in the country is 180 M ha-m. It includes about 20 M ha-m brought in by streams and rivers from catchments lying outside the country. About 45 M ha-m pertains to generate flow from ground water as assessed from river flows during non rainy months. The remaining 115 M ha-m constitutes direct contribution by precipitation of which about 10 M ha-m is received as snowfall.

Text: Laishram Kanta Singh, Assistant Chief Technical Officer (Ag Engineering) KVK Imphal West, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Manipur Centre) / Retrieved from The Sangai Express