The month of May marks a dire deterioration of the water situation of Mussoorie and the rest of India. Even by just taking a step outside of our school campus, one can see hundreds of people filling up at nearby a water outlet, awaiting the few droplets of water that flow once a day for thirty minutes.
Woodstock School’s primary source of water is Midland’s Stream, a spring situated 300 meters below the dormitory level. While the school uses the spring to satisfy the outlandish water consumption of students and staff, many communities further down the stream are left with the few remnants of the stream and the non-existent city supply. While we take fifteen-minute showers, families down Midland’s Stream are suffering thirst.
This is hypocrisy on two fundamental levels.
Firstly, the school can no longer claim to be an active community member of Mussoorie. According to CEDAR, an environmental NGO based in Dehradun, any water body in all of India is considered to be a state resource. Therefore, each water entity must be distributed fairly and proportionally to different communities that surround it. Woodstock simply does not do so: there are a few communities downstream that rely on the spring. Yet, the school continuously over pumps the spring during the summer months because it cannot curb the consumption of the students, bringing us to the next point of hypocrisy:
The school is not doing enough to abide by its guiding principle, “Tread lightly on the Earth.” Only in the last two weeks of school, during the month of May, which is the most water-scarce month in Mussoorie’s calendar, did the authorities put harsh regulations on water timings. This led, expectedly, to mass student outrage. When the water situation nears a crisis, the school should not just focus on imposing strict regulations but to educate students on the situation.
Students need to know just how bad the lives of others around them are. They need to know that water is a state resource. That all natural resources are scarce, especially in an environment as sensitive as the Himalayan foothills. That we are leaning towards a period of great climate variability and unpredictability. That Midland’s Stream can dry up in the very near future.
The first step of “treading lightly” is to acknowledge that we are treading heavily.
In other words, what can the school do? Is it only the administrators at fault? Of course not. If we are to improve the lives of those around us, as true citizens, then the first step is to come together to combat the faults of our actions. Staff and students must unite in curbing the inhuman water consumption, and it can all start with a simple solution: take shorter showers.
According to data taken by Faisal Qadir, Class of 2019 and leader of the water conservation group, every single shower at the boy’s dorm, Hostel, takes around 74 liters per person (on average). This means that if 150 boys shower every day, we use 11,100 liters of water. If we were to limit the shower usage to 50 liters per person, that would save around 4,000 liters of water — a massive amount in the face of Mussoorie’s water crisis.
We urge the school to act upon our sentiments in the future. Because, before we know it, Midlands Stream will dry up.
And we will be left with no water at all.