Water is an invaluable resource, one that is absolutely essential for the survival of living beings. Although abundant in supply, freshwater forms only 3% of the total water supply. Of this 3%, almost 2% freshwater is frozen in glaciers. Global warming and climate change has resulted in drying up of rivers, inconsistent rain falls and floods. In the year 2018, South Africa’s Cape Town almost ran out of water, it faced “Day Zero”.
This is exactly why it has become critical for us to conserve water else it may not be long before we would have to stand in long queues for water rations. Rain water harvesting is an economic way to conserve water. Being pure, rain water does not involve heavy treatment costs and can be used as is. Recently, PM Modi on the Mann Ki Baat radio show urged his countrymen to practice rainwater harvesting as a means to serve the country. However, India harvests only 17% of its rain water. If practiced properly, harvesting rain water alone could help increase groundwater levels by a substantial amount.
Inter state disputes are also what plague the water crisis In india. The Tamil Nadu-Karnataka water dispute is a century old dispute relating to the sharing of water from the Kaveri river. This issue is a source of major concern as the two states still quarrel over provision of water when monsoons fail. Apart from drinking, household needs and agriculture, perhaps one of the most important uses of water lies in the generation of hydroelectricity. Accounting for almost 20% of the world’s electricity supply, hydropower while being a renewable source of energy also acts as a storehouse for water. Dams can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change by storing and providing water as and when needed. India, along with China, Brazil, Canada and the USA, is one of the largest hydropower producers.
India’s hydropower potential mostly remains untapped although the country has plans to increase its capacity substantially by 2030. Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have the largest hydropower potential in India.
In December 2020, Chicago mercantile exchange (CME group) listed water as a tradable stock allowing Californian farmers and municipalities to hedge against higher prices quoted by the municipalities in the neighboring states. The CME group has basically set up a futures market for water. A future market is where contracts are made with regards to purchase and sale of a commodity at a predetermined price. The price of water futures in California is marked at 486.53 dollars per acre foot. The net worth of this water market is 1.1 billion dollars. We’ve come to a stage where private rights are being traded for water. Due to its scarcity, water is now being called the black gold or the black oil. Some people even say that the third World War would be fought over water. It is difficult to imagine a world where water becomes a ‘luxury’ rather than a ‘necessity’ owing to its scarce nature.