World Water Day 22March 2010

March 24, 2010


Reflections on world water day




March 22nd is officially designated by the U.N as World Water Day. The focus this year is on water quality and as the website explains ‘UN-Water has chosen ”Clean Water for a Healthy World” as theme for World Water Day 2010. The overall goal of the World Water Day on 22 March 2010 campaign is to raise the profile of water quality at the political level so that water quality considerations are made alongside those of water quantity’.

What are the key threats to water quality in urban areas? The water that comes from surface water bodies are normally treated and therefore our piped water in cities like Bangalore is absolutely potable. The water quality threat to piped water comes mainly from the intermittent supply – 1 hour every alternate day- and from the vacuum created in the non-flow hours. This combined with old , leaking pipes results in waste water being drawn into the pipes at times . This can then lead to water quality contamination if not properly addressed. The best solution for this problem is to ensure fully pressurised pipes all 24 hours a day. Old and leaking pipes also need to be replaced and a maintenance plan drawn up to plug leakages immediately.

From groundwater there are two major sources of pollution. One natural and another man made. The natural or geo-genic pollution is from substances like Fluoride, high salinity, Radium and Arsenic in some places. Manmade causes include primarily Nitrate contamination but also industrial pollution and sewage resulting in bacterial contamination. Solutions lie in what is called ‘source control’ methods. Never to lead any waste water untreated out into the system. Ensuring that  soak pits and septic tanks are well designed and do not contaminate groundwater and also ensuring that no industrial waste water is left untreated all help in protecting groundwater sources.

Another important measure is to ensure that garbage or solid waste is collected and disposed properly in lined land fills which do not leach or leak and pollute surface or groundwaters.

Once prevention is ensured then positive steps like recharging groundwater with clean rainwater can augment groundwater and improve quality. Secondary contamination can be avoided by storing water in clean vessels or tanks, regularly maintaining sump tanks and cleaning them and ensuring safe withdrawal through taps without dipping contaminated ladles.

Every citizen has a role to play both at home and at work to ensure that we take care of our scarce water resources and also ensure it’s sustainable availability. The best role is to be aware of our actions and to always prevent pollution of clean waters, whether on the surface or in the ground or even in the clouds. This is the path to water wisdom.


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