World Water Day: Towards A Sustainable Future
"Today, drinking water contamination and abysmal living conditions have become a socio-economic hazard in a nation like India impacting millions of lives every year. Lack of safe drinking water creates a surging effect on health problems," says Shashank Sinha, AVP Marketing at Eureka Forbes Limited
As it is World Water Day, it is not hyperbolic to say that water has, is and will always remain the single most critical element of our lives, with wide repercussions and implications on all facets of sustainability. In fact, the impact of water provision on the different sustainable development goals is undeniable.
There are some harrowing statistics for water when it comes to India which bring up the need for innovative clean water solutions. “63 million people in India don’t have access to clean drinking water. Every 4 minutes a child in India is lost to diarrhoea alone. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water. Women and girls spend up to 6 hours a day collecting water. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. In Kachariadih village, India, a group of children with limbs twisted out of shape hobble forward with the help of walking sticks. They grin with embarrassment because they cannot run like other children their age — fluoride poisoning has crippled their limbs”, says Dr. Vibha Tripathi, Founder and Managing Director of Swajal. She also adds, “Water is the very core of sustainable development. There is enough water but there is a scarcity of clean drinking water. 63 million people in India don’t have access to clean drinking water. In order to achieve sustainable development goals we have to support local communities in improving water management.”
In Denmark, Grundfos, primarily a water pump manufacturer has gone beyond its portfolio of just manufacturing pumps, to become a provider of holistic water solutions. With over 90% of market share in Denmark, Grundfos recognizes how integral addressing sustainability is through their core business operations, and they have addressed it by restructuring the entire water system in Denmark, from raw water intake to wastewater treatment. When asked about how their business affects sustainability, Ask Møller-Nielsen, Senior Manager, Head of Group Public Affairs, Grundfos, says, “First of all, we try to reduce our own footprint, reduce our energy consumption, and reduce our own water footprint. We also strive to help our customers and help others do the same. So we try to invent solutions, invent products that can do exactly that for our consumers in a sustainable way, from economic parameters to also environmental parameters." Ask also adds, “We have an impact, directly or indirectly on numerous SDGs. SDG number 6, on clean water and sanitation and SDG number 13, on climate action is kind of the focus area for us. We believe that focusing on these is the key to making the biggest impact possible,"
“Today, drinking water contamination and abysmal living conditions have become a socio-economic hazard in a nation like India impacting millions of lives every year. Lack of safe drinking water creates a surging effect on health problems. Moreover, rural India is afflicted with water-borne diseases due to consumption of drinking water infested with microbes like bacteria and virus, increased use of organic chemical passed on in water through the use of pesticides & fertilizers, and effluents. Thus safe drinking water is an absolute necessity and not a luxury”, says Shashank Sinha, AVP Marketing at Eureka Forbes Limited.
Some policy interventions which might be integral, according to Grundfos are- giving utilities incentives to reduce non-revenue water, or water which is lost before it reaches customers and creating transparency for non-revenue water, water quality and other key parameters for utilities, at the raw water intake stage. At the drinking water treatment and water distribution stage, there can be efficient irrigation, by incentivising drip irrigation in the agricultural sector, incentivising use of alternative sources like grey water (drainage) and treated wastewater, and through water pricing, where social impact is taken into account to bring water price in par with social value/cost. At the wastewater transport, flood control and wastewater treatment stage, there can be setting of minimum quality standards for discharge of wastewater, by wastewater pricing and setting wastewater tariffs to reflect social costs and through energy efficiency, and incentivising efficient treatment.