Of Water and Wastage


A leaky faucet. Dripping pipes. A forgotten motor and a cascade of water down the building. Water splashing off the roof of water tankers.

Every day, we see scores of incidents, little and large, that result in loss of water. Some, like the leaking tap, can be fixed straightaway. Some may need a few more steps to correct the issue.

But there are some, that go largely unnoticed that cost us a great deal more. But are left to continue on a day to day basis.

Fracking. The controversial process of drilling into the surface of the Earth, by injecting volumes of high pressured water along with sand and chemicals into the fissure to release gas. We are talking of massive quantities of erstwhile clean water being mixed with chemicals and used in non-palatable ways. Anything from 2 million to 4 million gallons of water are used in drilling one single shale gas well. In litres, that comes to 7 5,70 ,82,356 to 1,51,41,64,712 litres of water. To put this into perspective, an individual uses around 130 – 150 litres on average per day.

Can you now imagine the amount of water that is being taken out of the water table by this single act? This heavily contaminated water, with its host of chemicals, also seeps back into the ground and mixes with the ground water, poisoning it for miles and miles.

Aren’t these numbers enough to make your mind boggle?

Let me give you another example. A rather common, more accessible one.

Almond milk. How many of you drink almond milk in lieu of cow’s milk? A vast number of the world’s almonds are grown in the water-starved American state of California. Did you know, it takes one gallon of water to grow one almond? So, imagine how many gallons of water have gone in the next carton of almond milk you get your hands on?

But hold on. This doesn’t mean that you tack a pair of devil’s horns on the poor nut and shun it. Livestock are worse water guzzlers than any plant products. Around 90 gallons of water are needed to make one gallon of cow’s milk.

Does this mean you stop drinking milk or eating or go looking for fuel, altogether?

No. It means that you be even more mindful of the water you have, the water sources around you and look after them with care.

And fix that leaky tap.

Out Of (The World) Water

Interplanetary H20

There’s water crisis around the corner. Well, I know that isn’t actually news. If you are living in Chennai, there’s always a water crisis looming around, ready to take over your entire life. Time was, the Metro water tanks will be seen all over the city, splashing the unwary with precious water only during the summer months. Now, they are becoming ubiquitous.

So what’s the solution for THIS, the latest, water crisis? Get the water that is feeding our crops and divert it to our homes, of course! Simple!

Last year, on a trip to my father’s village, I visited the Kollidam, the overflow distributary of the river Kaveri. For the first time ever, there was no flowing water. Even in the harshest summer, when sand was all you could see, there still would be a tiny stream of water flowing through the middle of the river bed. That is no longer the case, say the locals. Ever since the deep bore wells were sunk straight into the beds to water the homes of nearby towns, the water that is found on the surface has dwindled to nearly nothing.

If this is what happens to our farmlands, where do we go for food? Or better still, food or water, which do you prefer more?

But there’s no need to worry as NASA has great news for us. There’s water on Mars!  Not just on the movie but in the real world! Not right now, but billions of years back. But hey, if there was water once, we can always stick some bore wells in and see if it is still there, right? As if that isn’t awesome enough, the boffins at NASA think there might be H2O on Pluto too! Beyond the realms of fantasy, or what?

Now, all it remains is for us to figure out how to get the water from there to our kitchens.