The Climate Monitor Issue 11,April 2009
THE WATER ISSUE Water distribution and carbon emissions each have strong claims to being our greatest market failures. In both cases, the lack of a real price combined with technology and growing consumption pressures have led to unsustainable exploitation. Most worrying of all is the Climate Change and Water nexus. As the planet warms, it will make already acute water problems more severe. Our supply of freshwater will increasingly shift away from glacier fed rivers to rain fed sources, making them less predictable and harder to capture. Our agriculture will require greater irrigation with decreased soil moisture content due to a warmer planet. Ironically, we will require more of the very energy that has led to Global Warming, to help redistribute a dwindling fresh water supply. That is unless we can truly usher in the renewable revolution. But it is not just a warming planet that is playing a reinforcing role. Potentially more powerful are our very own adaptation measures. As cities and towns lose their supply of potable water, the organised bottled water makers and water tankers are rolling in. Finally water has a price but at the cost of large amounts of energy used in its transport and a mountain of hard to recycle plastic bottles. As our water tables drop, pump makers are working on more efficient designs which ostensibly reduce energy bills but at the same time allow us to pump out water from greater depths, thereby reducing the water tables further. As our water gets more dirty, homes are installing their own filtration systems that not only consume energy but also expel a large amount of water in the process of filtration. This is similar to the notion that as
the earth warms, people will simply turn on their ACs and thereby accelerate the warming further. The trends suggest that water will move away from the utility into the micro level with homes taking responsibility for their own collection, filtration and recycling of water. Perhaps there is hope in this. Until then, expect the predicted water wars to not happen only between countries but within our country itself. I hope you enjoy the articles collected from TCP-India's cohort of climate change presenters. Gaurav Gupta, Director, TCP-India
OUR DISAPPEARING GLACIERS Glacial melt in the Himalayas should be a cause of serious concern in India. Greenpeace estimates that Himalayan glaciers, often called the ‘third pole’ by some on account of the massive reserves they hold, are the primary source of water for one-sixth of the world’s population. They feed agriculture of South Asian economies. Losing such water sources would result in acute food shortages, loss of livelihood and, increase conflict. The United Nation’s IPCC has stated that, “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world.” According to Mats Eriksson, Program Manager for water and hazard management at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development “The glacial retreat is enormous – up to 70 meters (230 feet) per year and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of the glaciers around the Himalaya region disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps
sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate”.
CLIMA TE CHANGE AND THE GANGA RIVER 29th March 2009 was the hottest day in Delhi in 51 years – 43.5 degrees centigrade As Al Gore demonstrated in the Inconvenient Truth, there is more of this to come. “The glaciers in the Himalayas are likely to disappear by 2035, affecting the water supply of three quarters of a billion people in Asia,” says Executive Secretary of UNFCC. This will mean that the Holy Ganges River will also dry up as a yearround river and will depend on the monsoon rains only.
The shrinking glaciers like Gangotri and Siachen in India bode ill for Asia's fresh water supply. According to a study by the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the Gangotri glacier which provides up to 70 percent of the water of the Ganges during the dry summer months, is shrinking at a rate of 40 yards per year— nearly twice as fast as it was 20 years ago. In India alone, the Gangotri glacier, which feeds the Ganges, provides water for drinking and farming for more than 500 million people. Although the glacier recession produces a short-lived surplus of water, the supply will eventually run out. There is a very good chance that after 2035, the Gangotri Glacier would have receded to a point that it will no longer be able to feed the Ganges (IPCC and TERI). Experts predict that the Ganges will become a seasonal river largely dependent on monsoon rains. The World Wildlife Fund in March 2009 listed the Ganges among the world's 10 most endangered rivers! Supriya Rao, Project Manager at TCP-India
The question we must ask is " Jab Ganga sookh jaigi tub kya?" – What does this mean to us as farmers in Punjab, Haryana, U.P, Jharkhand, Uttranchal, Bihar, West Bengal etc? What does it mean to the residents of Delhi? We know that the Ganga does not flow through Delhi but it certainly flows through our hearts and through the taps of Delhi! If this river dries up, can you imagine what this will mean for many of us who have a preference for our ashes being immersed in the Ganga River? How is it that we politically battle over caste and forget about the issues that threaten our very existence or crucial developmental issues? People must be made aware of this threat, as 2035 is only 26 years away and the glaciers are will gradually dry up before then The solution is not entirely in our hands as we are dependent on China, USA or Europe does. Regardless, we must do something ourselves and take this threat with the seriousness it deserves. The first step is for us to recognize this threat and be aware of it! This section was written by one of TCPIndia’s presenters - Mr. Kamal Meattle,
Trustee TCP-India and CEO Paharpur Business Centre & Software Technology Incubator Park.
URBAN WATER LESSONS FROM DE LHI’S ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
extracted by the Delhi Water Board to meet the ever-increasing demand of 16 million Delhiites. This is where the problem arises as the groundwater resource, if only extracted and not replenished, would cease to exist. Owing to this, the groundwater in the southern parts of Delhi is no longer extractable.
The urbanization process in India in the 20th century led to the formation of large city-centers with very high density of population. The urban sprawl also meant an immense pressure on the natural resources of these city-centers thus also affecting, among others, the quality of life of the urbanite. One of the first resources to get impacted was water - that began to both deplete and deteriorate as rapidly as was the pace of urbanization in the respective urban-centers. Delhi, the capital of India has obviously been one of the cities to have now turned into a mega-city. Delhi faces regular water crisis that only aggravates in summers and all stakeholders agree on the inadequacy of Delhi’s current water supply. But Delhi is also one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It has been the capital of many conquerors who ruled Northern part of present day India from here and has always been a populated center. Water was traditionally harvested in a number of ways to support the population that also comprised large armies; something, the planners of today can and should learn from. Though a major portion of Delhi’s water demand is met through surface water in the form of rivers and canals, which need much treatment before being supplied, a good volume of groundwater is also
Now, the groundwater had been a source of potable water for all the kingdoms that once ruled the city many of whom constructed baolis or step-wells to provide and store water and as a backup during droughts. This is where heritage can come to the rescue! A baoli or step-well consists a vertical shaft from which water can be drawn and the surrounding inclined passageways and steps, which provide access to the well. These were built to provide a constant supply of water to the residents of Delhi and now lie in ruins – wasted and disused. Of course, they cannot be used for direct consumption today but can prove crucial in
harvesting groundwater and in recharging underground aquifers - something they were also made for. In fact, a ten year old study by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage) titled ‘Blue Print for Water Augmentation in Delhi’ included an elaborate study on the benefits of reviving these baolis. While plans were made to revive some 26 of these baolis, no real ground action has taken place. The oldest existing step-well in Delhi was built in the tenth century. A millennium later, it may well be more economical to reuse it for the same purpose. Govind Singh, Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) and Delhi Greens. Govind is also a TCP-India presenter. This article first appeared in www.ecoworldly.com.
WATER SOLUTION: RAIN WATER HARVESTING Over the last century, Global water consumption has risen almost tenfold and many parts of the world are now reaching the limits of their supply. According to the predictions made by UNESCO, water shortage will be a serious problem all across the world by 2020. It is thus imperative that we look for and adopt solutions. This column proposes one such solution - Rain Water Harvesting (RWH). Rain Water Harvesting is the gathering and storage of rainwater at surface or subsurface before the water is lost as runoff. RWH enhances the availability and quality of ground water at specific places. It can be used to provide supplemental water for the city's requirement, and to increase soil moisture levels for urban greenery. Moreover, RWH is not only an
environmental solution economically wise one.
Take, for example, an 80,000 sq ft suburban commercial office building in Mumbai with an open terrace area of 3000 sq ft and a landscape area of about 2500 sq ft. The building’s annual water requirement from the municipality is approximately 4240 Kilolitre for which it pays Rs. 1.7 lakhs annually (1KL = Rs. 40/approx). It also has a bore well with a yielding capacity of 30 KL per day. A RWH feasibility study showed that the building area receives 7690 KL of rainwater. Of this, about 1960 KL were incident on the terrace and roof, meaning that 30 to 40% of the available rainwater could be harvested. The yield and the quality of the bore well water could be improved through rain water harvesting using roof top water as well as water available on the pavement of the building. Last year, the owner of the building invested Rs. 2.9 lakhs to install a RWH system. The building now harvests approximately 3,000 KL of water a year, which amounts to 71% of the water it was sourcing from the BMC. It now sources only 1240KL of water from the BMC annually, implying an annual saving of Rs. 1.2 Lakhs. The payback for this RWH system was merely 2.4 Years. More and more buildings (both residential and commercial) are opting for RWH as a means of saving water as well as money along with being ecologically compliant. Convince your building to do the same! Jaspreet Arora, Analyst at TCP-India
WATER AND INDUSTRY: HINDUSTAN UNILEVER’S CONSERVATION APPROACHES Water scarcity is a growing problem in many parts of the world. As fresh water supplies come under pressure, the need for better water management becomes ever more urgent. Consider future of fresh water in India. Per capita availability is likely to drop from 5177 cubic meters (1951) to 1340 cubic meters by 2025 (Ministry of Water Resources). Although currently fresh water requirement for Indian industry is 13% of total requirement, balance being pre-dominantly for irrigation, given the rate of growth, the fresh water consumption by industry, if the business continues as usual, is likely to go up from 67 billion cubic meters (1999) to 228 billion cubic meters by 2025 (World Bank). Water is going to be a scare resource for the industries unless we gear up to reduce water usage drastically in the coming years. Many Indian businesses are aware of the issue and have focused on conserving water in their manufacturing operations i.e. “MAKE” it part of the supply chain. Typically for Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies, the use of water in the entire extended Supply Chain as well as the use of water during consumption of the products by consumers is quite significant when compared to the amount required during manufacturing operations. Thus, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) has adopted a four-pronged approach: •
Conserve water usage that is directly under the control of the industry – i.e. in manufacturing and by modifying the design of the products.
Promote and monitor water conservation in “Source” and “Deliver” part of the Supply Chain although they may not be under the direct control of the industry. Adopt novel routes for water conservation i.e. Rain Water Harvesting, Water Shed Management, water harvesting in communities, restoration of water bodies, application of technology for recycle and reuse of water, developing product requiring less water. This can best be achieved through a model of public private partnership being led by the industry from the front and involving local communities and NGOs which are relentlessly pursuing the mission of water conservation. Designing products that require less water during consumer use
Water management is one of the key performance indicators at all HUL manufacturing sites. HUL is working with an aim to be water positive by 2015 through the initiatives outlined above. Bakul Dave is a TCP-India presenter and Head of Corporate Safety and Environment at Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). He has helped implement water conservation initiatives at HUL.
TCP-INDIA CELEBRATES ONEYEAR IN INDIA AND LAUNCH OF THE TEACHER TRAINING WORKSHOP IN AJMER AND DELHI TCP–India celebrated its one-year anniversary and launched the Environment Sustainability Leadership Program for training teachers on climate change on 17th April 2009 in Delhi.
CONTACT US If you would like to contribute to the newsletter or have any responses to it contact Supriya Rao at: The Climate Project – India, 4th Floor, Candelar, 26 St. John Baptist Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai 400050 The event was attended by several distinguished guests including Mr. Rakesh Mehta, Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT, Delhi; Ms, Rina Ray, Secretary of Education, Govt. Of Delhi; various government officials, diplomats, teachers and TCP-India presenters. We received messages from Nobel Laureate Al Gore; Mr. Shyam Saran, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Climate Change; Dr. Pachauri, Director General, TERI and Mrs. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister Of Delhi to felicitate us on this occasion. On the morning of 17th April 2009 TCPIndia launched the Teacher Training Program at Sanskriti School, Delhi. Over 65 participants attended the program. On 20th April, we conducted the program at Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer where over 50 participants including teachers and PhD students were trained. We received very positive feedback for both the sessions and hope to take our initiative forward in both cities.
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