There would never be life without water. We all might’ve studied before that our planet is made up of approximately 75% of water, but are we really aware of how much of it is actually drinkable? You may ask “How much of the 75% of the water is fit for human consumption?” Well, almost none of it.
Even though we are provided with this lifesaver in such a huge abundance, 97% of it still categorizes under the category of ‘inconsumable’. This may come as a shock to you but out of the rest of 3%, 2.5% of the water that’s not in the inconsumable category is not accessible either which leaves us with roughly 0.4% of the earth’s water which is usable and drinkable to be shared among Earths’ 8 billion inhabitants. This may come as an even bigger blow but out of that 0.4%, most of it is hard to reach. We only have access to some amount of it flowing through underground aquifers which can be accessed by digging wells but the rest of it is found in rivers and streams in the form of surface water which are usually far off and unreachable.
Talking about these crises, it’s not just the metropolitan cities or some bigger towns that suffer from the insufficient potable water supply, but it is also the very regions in the hills of the Himalayas that lack proper access to consumable water, the most prominent example in these hills being Mussoorie. The region of the hill station lies at the foothills of the Himalayas continuously faces huge water crises, especially during the summer months. This is due to increasing pressure on available resources, lack of long-term planning, changes in demography, and climate which has increased stress on “ The Queen of the Hills”. With the significant tourist influx, this beautiful hill town might have grown a bit too much beyond its carrying capacity and is now crumbling down under its own weight, this being the main reason for the acute water shortage in the small hill station. Many areas of Mussoorie suffer through acute water shortages during the hot months. Water received by different wards is recorded in the range of 40-80 Ipcd which is just half to the standards. The main source of water supply is the Public Stand Post, whereas the alternate source of water supply is the Private Water Tankers/ Springs. The total municipal water supply is 9 MLD 90% of the area being covered with water supply system yet it is difficult to meet the demand for water which is 7.69 MLD for residents itself and over 14 MLD of water demanded overall.
The central government has sanctioned a mega drinking water scheme (in March 2020) in which water from Yamuna river would be extracted to meet the town’s water requirements. The scheme mentions that the supply from the river would make up to 12 million liters per day which flows to the north of Mussoorie. As per the officials, through the success of this pumping scheme, the town’s water demand will be fulfilled at least for the next 30 years. Researchers and scientists have also predicted that Mussoorie, Devprayag, and Darjeeling will be the first Indian towns to bear the brunt of the Himalayas water flow drying up. The Hindu-Kush Himalayas is one of the most important reserves of fresh water in the world catering to the needs of millions of people. Spanning across four countries- India, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Pakistan- freshwater is already in short supply with things only expected to get even worse in the near future. A new study published in Water Policy predicts that the demand-supply gap for water may double by 2050 as the demand for water is outstripping supply in almost all the towns and the future looks bleak if the ‘business as usual’ scenario persists. 5 of the towns in India, including Mussoorie, being the first and foremost one are declared as the most vulnerable to the Himalayas running dry due to rapid urbanization, climate risks, and lack of water rights.
Our student water conversation team works at the local community to tackle water scarcity in and around Woodstock and Mussoorie. The struggle for water is a universally pertinent issue. We’re lucky enough to be able to outsource most of our water demand from a single spring: Midlands Stream. We have the Mussoorie Student Water Forum, formed as a subset of the Mussoorie Water Forum, a gathering of concerned citizens, politicians, and businesspeople in Mussoorie, to tackle issues of water scarcity. The Student Forum hosts a consortium of schools around Mussoorie, to collectively fight water issues. One of the biggest ongoing projects as a forum is the tracking of leakages in city supply lines across the hillside in order to compile a detailed report and send it to the Water Works Department in Mussoorie. Additionally, Woodstock is also working to tackle leaks in its own water system, with work underway to replace old pipelines expected to save a significant proportion of water wasted before it gets to its final destination.
The supply of insufficient potable water is a serious complication and it should be taken under consideration as one. Being the students of an institution that deals with matters such as the water crises at international bases, we must learn, work together and find ways to overcome this predicament.
Rhythm is a staff reporter
Edited by Rewa
Featured image from wallpaperaccess.com