With the generous amount of rain this city has received in the past few days, there is reason for hope. Reports have come in that lake levels are high, and there is enough water now for Mumbai. Statistics and reports are one thing, what is important is that one should not get carried away by figures, flooding and a false sense of optimism.
When there are heavy rains, there is a tendency to throw caution to the winds, to bask in the feeling that there is enough, or even an abundance of water and so, one can (temporarily, at least) suspend all thoughts about saving water.
This is a dangerous and avoidable trend. Mumbaikars must remember that the next water shortage, not to sound alarmist or pessimistic, can happen at any time. There are a number of factors for this. Just a couple of years ago, for instance, this paper had carried a report on how the city lost 455 million litres of water per day (mld), thanks to an incomplete bridge at the Middle Vaitarna dam.
While there is no such scenario this time, it is imperative that citizens make saving water a way of life, regardless of the rains or the season. Save water campaigns, which are started in schools, should not let up. Television must play these ads as a social service and the message should be constantly reinforced. Keep telling people to turn off the tap when not needed, use buckets instead of showers for bathing, do not unnecessarily throw out water, just some of the ways we in urban areas can actually make saving water a part of our eco-consciousness so that it is ingrained in us completely.
Today, there are great challenges globally to preserve water and experts have often stated that the next wars will actually be fought between countries over water. While this may seem an extreme prediction, we, as citizens are part of a planet hurtling towards a water crisis. Just a small drop saved by everybody, every day, can make an ocean. Do not let complacency erode this consciousness.
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