Water Management Needs a Hydro-Social Approach
- It is globally estimated that the gap between demand for and supply of fresh water may reach up to 40% by 2030 if present practices continue.
- 2030 Water Resource Group in 2008 also recognises this problem and help achieve the SDG 6.
- The latest UN World Water Development Report, 2021, titled ‘Valuing Water’, has laid stress on the proper valuation of water by considering five interrelated perspectives
- water sources;
- water infrastructure;
- water services;
- water as an input to production;
- socio-economic development, and sociocultural values of water.
In this context, a hydro-social cycle approach provides an appropriate framework.
Need for hydro-social cycle approach:
- It repositions the natural hydrological cycle in a human-nature interactive structure and considers water and society as part of a historical and relational-dialectical process.
- World over intra- and inter-basin transfer (IBT) of water is used as a major hydrological intervention to rectify the imbalance in water availability due to naturally prevailing unequal distribution.
- EG: The National River Linking Project of India is one of those under construction.
Issues in IBT:
- The basic premise of IBT is to export water from the surplus basin to a deficit basin.
- However, there is contestation on the concept of the surplus and deficit basin itself as the exercise is substantially hydrological. EG: rainfall in many surplus basins has been reported as declining.
- There is also concern about the present capacity utilisation of water resources created in the country. The average water use efficiency of irrigation projects in India is only 38% against 50%-60% in the case of developed countries.
- Even at the crop level, we consume more water than the global average. The agriculture sector uses a little over 90% of total water use in India. And in industrial plants, consumption is 2 times to 3.5 times higher per unit of production of similar plants in other countries.
- There is also lack of proper disposal and reuse of grey water in our country. It is estimated that 55% to 75% of domestic water use turns into grey water depending on its nature of use, people’s habits, climatic conditions, etc. This untreated grey water and industrial effluents get into freshwater bodies and becoming a source of pollution.
- Apart from the inefficient use of water in all sectors, there is also a reduction in natural storage capacity and deterioration in catchment efficiency.
- A hybrid water management system is necessary, where (along with professionals and policy makers) the individual, a community and society have definite roles in the value chain.
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