World Water Day
Water and the threat to its very existence
N. Shyamsundar Singh FIE
A. Nature’s Gift : The Gift Pack of the nature for all living beings on the planet “Earth” contains water along with other essentials like air, heat & light etc. This fact itself signifies that water is indispensable to all forms of life.
B. Water Is What Water Does: It has been found that in some organisms, like plants upto 90% of their body weight comes from water and upto 60% of the human adult body is water while the babies have the most at about 78%.
According to HH Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and the heart are composed of 73% water and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79% and even the bones are watery- 31%. Thus, water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going. Generally, an adult male needs about 3 likes of water per day while an adult female needs about 2.2 litre per day. In fact, a person meets the demand partly from drinking liquids and the remaining from the food he or she eats.
Therefore, there just would not be any living being without existence of an ample liquid water supply on Earth. The unique qualities and properties of water are those that make it so important and basic to life and it has no substitute. Therefore, we can simply say “water is what water does”.
C. “As Easy As Water” Is Not Valid : The total amount of water on earth remains almost the same. However, the water available in the seas and oceans that cover almost two-thirds of the earth, has salts dissolved in it and the saline water is not fit for general use.
Numerically, the world’s total water resources are estimated analytically at 1.37x108 million Ha.m. Of these global water resources, about 97.2% is salt water, mainly in oceans and the balance 2.8% is available as fresh water on the planet at any time. Out of the total quantity of fresh water, about 78.6% (i.e. 2.2% of the whole) is available as surface water and the balance 21.4%(i.e. 0.6% of the whole) as ground water.
Again, out of this 78.6% of surface water, 97.7% is fresh water in glaciers and icecaps. The balance which is of the order of 2.3% is available in different forms- as water in lakes, reservoirs, rivers & streams, as vapour in atmosphere and as soil moisture in the top soil. Therefore, the quantum of pure water readily available for day-to-day multipurpose use is very limited and finite. Moreover, it is decreasing fast due to over usage.
In Manipur, there was a time, about 45 years back, when we used to drink couple of glasses of raw water from hilly streams after a 3-4 kms walk without any hesitation about side effects. Today, that kind of pure water is not to be found anywhere. Rather, we need to pay Rs. 10 or more if we like to have a glass of potable water. We may not get it sometimes even though we are ready to pay for it. Simply because, more than 25% of the world’s population is without safe drinking water. Therefore, the old saying- “As Easy As Water” is apparently not valid now.
D. Water Begets Water: If we happen to recollect the functioning of the Hydrological Cycle (also known as Water Cycle) we shall realize very well that the cycle or the circulation of water is made effective and timely by a series of activities pursued by forest, water, air, radiant heat & light from the sun etc strictly under the laws of nature.
Water available in our ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, wells and oceans, comes on earth in the forms of rain, hail and snow. A part of the total precipitation gradually percolates through permeable soil, recharges aquifers and also forms ground water.
(To be contd)