India is faced with the looming reality of a water crisis. Exploitation by urban conglomerations and agricultural practices has led to severe water shortage in both urban and rural centres. Statistics point out some ugly truths:
- More than one in three people globally do not have access to safe drinking water
- More than 4 billion people lack adequate sanitation.
- By 2050, water demand globally is projected to increase by 55%
- 60 percent of India’s districts are likely to see groundwater tables fall to critical levels within two decades, placing at least 25% of the country’s agriculture at risk.
This is a demand we are not equipped to handle graciously, or at all.
So how can this problem be solved? With data.
Experts have reported that water scarcity is less of a water crisis and more of a water-management crisis. The need for water and wastewater industries to employ smart solutions for integrating and analyzing data is the need of the hour. Real-time data has the potential to reduce water scarcity as it has been used by India for more than a decade.
So what is the issue?
Water agencies have been reluctant to share data with the additional problem of using different formats to store it that hinder a standardized usage. Although faced with these challenges, initiatives like India-WRIS are government bodies that have successfully utilized real-time data for water resource managements.
What are the benefits of real-time data and how can it reduce water scarcity?
- Real-time data could accurately gauge groundwater depletion or track contamination of a region.
- Villages vulnerable to floods or droughts can be predicted by using both historical and real-time data as urban planners can build rain-water harvesting structures to mitigate floods and harness rainwater to avoid water scarcity in the future.
- Real time data can be utilized by reservoir workers by employing different models and determining the amount of water to be released. This would grant them the opportunity to maximize water storage.
- Data can have a profound effect on watershed management and devise strategies to appease both stakeholders and local communities which would reduce exploitation of water.
- Digitization of water can play an essential role as installing digital meter and a tap card at water facilities account for daily limit and emergency needs. This has been widely used in rural regions but could be installed in urban regions as well. Since urban industries and households generate tons of wastewater, the digitization of water could provide a real-time data of the water wasted and the means to reduce it.
Technologies like GIS and Remote Sensors collate both historical and real-time data by mapping and evaluating water management methodologies. They provide varied sources of statistics, standardization, and storage for data collection which helps in gauging water level and the intensity of scarcity in regions.
Hence, real-time data can be used as a means of prevention as well as an antidote to deal with water scarcity through standardized formatting and effective execution.
Sourced from : World Bank Blogs