Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why should you save water?

You must have heard it umpteen times through your newspapers, tv channels, conservationist friends - Save Water. Have you ever thought why you should save water? I used to ask this question myself. If you put some thought into it you will understand the reasons why you should save water and this understanding will make you save water more effectively than the barrage of "Save Water" messages you see.

Water is one of the most abundant natural resources that we have. More than three quarters of the earth's surface is covered with water. Besides you can't just destroy water like that normally. You change it from one form to another and also cycles through different physical processes and biological processes. On an average the total available water content on planet earth remains almost constant.

However most of the water that we have on earth is not directly in potable form. Seawater is not, neither is water locked in marshes, swamps, salty lakes. So that leaves rivers, fresh-water lakes, ponds, wells and ground water table. Now for clarity of reasoning we can divide people into those who depend on public water supply systems (city and town dwellers) and those who depend on natural water sources directly.

Public water supply systems become necessary when people cannot practically get all the water they need on their own from nearby natural water sources. This happens when population densities rises and the local natural water bodies cannot sustain year long the water requirements of the people. So naturally this process happens in towns and cities where water is pumped from faraway and larger natural water bodies. Additionally this centralized distributions also opens the possibility of filtering and purifying the water at source and reduces the possibilities of water borne diseases. So, off late, this facility is being extended to rural areas as well.

Of the natural sources of water mentioned above, public distribution of water has to come from reasonably perennial sources and from where water can be drawn in volumes without causing too much of an imbalance in the ecosystem. So that leaves only large lakes and perennial rivers available as public water supply sources. More often than not these water bodies end up being reasonably far away from the city and it costs energy to pump the water to the city and to bring it to the homes of the inhabitants.

In a rural area where there is no public water supply, people normally depends on wells, ponds and to some extend rivers for their water supply needs. Wherever electricity is available it will be used to power pumps to draw and supply water to the homes. Also, both ponds and wells depend on ground water tables. So using water from these sources puts a pressure on the ground water table.

So we have seen two distinct reasons why we should save water
1) In both cases, where we use water from public water supply systems or directly from natural bodies, saving water will save the energy required to filter, purify and bring the water to the end user.
2) Saving water will reduce the pressure on the natural water bodies and will help in ensuring year round supply of water and also availability of water for agricultural purposes.
3) There is again a third and not so evident reason as to why we should save water. This applies only to towns and cities that depend on public water supply systems. All these systems depend on an underground network of pipes for distributing the water. The pipes only can supply a certain maximum quantity of water. If there are n users in that town/city and this maximum capacity is W liters per year, then a person using more than W/n liters of water per year will reduce the ability of other people in the same town/city to enjoy an equal amount of water as him. So saving water will help in equitable distribution of water in towns and cities. This is especially relevant in places where the topography of the land leads to unequal availability even under sub-maximal usage limits.


  1. makes sense ..will be good if you can connect it to your opening comment abt the abundance and constance of water..and why "save water" is needed for one's *own* existence. The N/w theory is not motivational enough for the general selfish populace to turn off their taps sooner..

  2. Even the selfish interest theory might not hold. The impact of each person's usage on the total usage is very small and the duration required to create a big negative impact by a single person is too long for short sighted, narrow minded people to find any incentive in saving water. This is a fundamental problem with any kind of message related to conservation.

  3. I agree! As with any so called "environmental" issues - slogan are misleading and cause blinders to be put on.
    Lets take the "simple" case of disposable diapers vs "cloth" diapers (speaking from very recent experience - you know me Anoop!)
    The environmentalist says - disposable is EVIL - so go get cloth diapers or dont use any at all. So I use a cloth diaper - assume, each cloth diaper uses 300 ml of water to clean - cloth diapers have to be changed atleast 8 times a day for a newborn to 1 year old. So thats 2.4L/day x 1 year = 876 L/year!!
    Whats the true cost of that clean water and the waste water treatment - especially in India. Now consider disposable - yes, they expend energy to manufacture - and need careful disposal - but they also hold more :-) - so you change only 2 times a day and can be bought without the silica gel - and can be composted in some cases - so the environmental cost of a disposable diaper may not be as EVIL as some may make it out to be!

    The same holds true for Paper vs Plastic - (Trees vs Oil), Concrete vs Wood houses, Nuclear vs Coal vs Hydrolectric energy - sometimes the choices are not so clear!

    Slogan dont help in a debate or discussion.

  4. @amnotreal - If you are who I think you are, you would rather not be real :). I am a big advocate of reuse and an avid campaigner against the use and throw culture. I have not blogged about it yet though. I am going to dissect your argument and repudiate your claim.
    Let us take the "simple" case of disposable diapers.

    Total cost of using cloth diaper = 6 * 365 * (your time in cleaning + 1 ltr of water).

    Note that I have used 1 liter as against your 300ml. Now if your claim has to be true this has to be more than the case when you use disposable diapers

    Total cost of using disposable diapers = 2 * 365 * (water used directly in production of one diaper + raw materials used directly in the production of one diaper + environmental cost in disposing the diaper + raw materials used in the production of the packaging + environmental cost in disposing the packaging of the diaper + energy used in the whole process)

    If it is possible to show that water used in the latter process alone is more than the water used in the former then your argument will be shown to be invalid. Again, even if that is not possible the other costs incurred in the latter process will be several times over that incurred in the former process.

    I think it is reasonable to assume that the water in the latter process above has to be more than the water used in the former process as the latter process has several different sub steps, all of which need water in some amounts.

    Even otherwise your argument is held invalid, considering the other environmental, energy and resource costs.

  5. thanks to Thondom Raughts that has helped me for my public speaking

  6. We really need to conserve water! It a vital yet limited resourse. Plants need water to survive and if there are no plants there are no animals. No animals, No people! :)


  8. makes total sense. (y) i totally agree with this topic. Cheers to whoever wrote this!

  9. we can also save water by water used for washing vegetables that water we can pour in the plants.

  10. I don't agree with "saving" water. Have you ever wondered how the U.S. Navy supplies its warships with fresh drinking water for the troops onboard? The navy uses a process called Reverse Osmosis. Google it. The Earth has plenty of water to support all of us. If you want to do something to help the environment along with your fellow humans, try education.

    1. Then how come Reverse Osmosis is not available to all fellow citizens?

    2. yea then how will it get more water because the water has to be used till its all out then u have to use more and then more until it all runs out

  11. This was very helpful and assisted me in doing research for a project. Thanks a lot.

  12. u have done an ausome job .
    good speech.
    a very long 1.
    done with so much effort.
    i wish by reading this speech people start understanding why v should save water and save
    water more effectively.
    i love the speech.
    keep on writing more speeches like this.

  13. Reverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse Osmosis

  14. Reverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse OsmosisReverse Osmosis

  15. gas what in africa lots people needs water to drink to wash their clothes