Saving Water (and Ourselves)

In 1995, World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin said that the wars of the next century will be fought over water.

Here are some eye-openers:

– Only less than 1 percent of all water on Earth is suitable for use by humanity. The rest is either salt water or permanently frozen.

– 11% of the global population, or 783 million people, are still without access to improved sources of drinking water.

– Singapore recycles water from toilets and drains to meet its water demand.

The situation with bottled water is simply ridiculous.

– 3 liters of water is used to package 1 liter of bottled water!

– The bottles used to package water take over 1,000 years to bio-degrade and if incinerated, they produce toxic fumes.

In the USA, Sustainability Engineer Pablo Päster of controversially calculated the environmental cost of a single bottle of Fiji Water thus:

'the manufacture and transport of that one kilogram bottle of Fiji water consumed 26.88 kilograms of water (7.1 gallons) .849 Kilograms of fossil fuel (one litre or .26 gal) and emitted 562 grams of Greenhouse Gases (1.2 pounds)'

While clean and safe drinking water is scarce in most of the developing world, Kashmir is blessed with generous water resources.

Fortunate as we are, we still waste too much of this precious resource. It is our responsibility as concerned individuals to reduce the wastage of water.

Rainwater harvesting is a simple method that can have a huge impact by reducing the demand on water for outdoor activities.

As per experts, 1 mm of rain on 1 square metre of roof area provides 1 litre of water.

As per NOAA data, Srinagar receives around 28 inches of rainfall per year.

Since I am metrically handicapped, this would mean that, if my calculations are correct;

1 inch of rain on 1 square foot of roof will provide 2.36 litres of water.

The potential to harvest rainwater for my house which has a roof area of approx 2500 sq.ft can be calculated using this Rainfall Calculator.

28 inches X 2500 sq. ft = 165182 litres per year

How awesome is that? One hundred and sixty-five thousand litres a year or approximately 450 litres of pure rainwater every day absolutely free.

While I was designing my home, I took care to construct the roof in a manner that would make it easy to collect and store rainwater.

Instead of an overdesigned roof, I have four simple valleys that act as virtual quarter funnels channeling rainwater to four collection spots where I can easily store or divert rainwater.

This 1000 litre tank waters my garden.

This 1000 litre tank maintains my lily pond.

The two other downspouts recharge my tubewell and will also be used to water my vegetable garden and to wash my car once I have the filter system in place.

Since most houses in Kashmir have a 'parnala' or rainwater gutter system, all we have to do is to divert the downspout into a storage tank and we can enjoy an abundant supply of fresh water for sustainable gardening plus the warm fuzzy feeling of being a concerned socially responsible citizen.

The responsibility of saving the world should not be limited to beauty pageant contestants only 🙂