World Water Day March 22nd
If you didn’t catch it, March 22nd was World Water Day. I’m writing this well after the date because this year, I wanted to know ‘what was done’, rather than what was happening. Though this is still a relatively broad question and something to be explored, I came across what I think is an interesting resource for water happenings or capturing information about the water sector. The CWC in India stands for the Central Water Commission, but in the United States, it is the Columbia Water Center, an initiative of Columbia University. They are working to create sustainable answers to the growing water epidemic: “we aim to design reliable, sustainable models of water management and development that can be implemented on local, regional and global levels”. Funded by a $6 million grant from the Pepsico Foundation, they are relatively new to the water story, having been founded in 2008.
This year’s World Water Day theme was Food Security. As the world’s population grows, the demand for food, and the pressure on agriculture is skyrocketing. What gets affected the most is the availability of water. Or in formula terms: Rise in population -> Greater food needs to feed the population -> Increased agriculture/mining/farming to support the growing demands of the population -> Increased water demand -> Increased water demand + climate change = water is not getting repleted at a rate faster than it is being consumed.
In visual explanation of this, check out CWC’s ‘infographic’ on water in India, one of the countries that their research work is based on:
One such solution that the CWC has tested is the ‘tensiometer’ as mentioned above. It is a device that allows farmers to test the moisture content of their soil - that indicates whether more or less water is needed. When growing water intensive crops like rice, this tool is highly useful in maintaining water levels. Check out their experiment here as stated on the CWC website:
"For the pilot project, the PAU/CWC team recruited 525 rice farmers and provided them with tensiometers for the first large-scale field test of the technology. Eighty five percent of the farmers who were initially recruited in 2010 followed through with the entire experiment. Of these, all reported consistently good results and indicated their intention to convert their full operation to tensiometer use in the next cycle. Farmers who completed the trial reported an average of 22 percent water savings over conventional methods, and 24 percent energy savings. "
I would like to see for the next cycle, what the adoption rate of the tensiometer is and whether those farmers really understood the reason why they were being involved in this experiment in the first place. Water conservation is already a well established practice in urban India given such prevalent water shortages, but can the farmers in rural India make the connection that saving water means saving the world for the future?
Check out more of the CWC’s articles here, to learn more about innovations in the water sector and what institutions like Columbia University are supporting when it comes to increased education and research on water security.
Happy World Water Day 2012,