“We don’t have a water problem now, we had a good Monsoon.” Yes, that is as long range as most people think. After a drought for 4 years, and water tables falling further then any where in recorded history and well beyond where people believe it has ever been, yet the issue is not in the forefront of peoples minds now. So why worry?
So lets go back in history. It is fascinating is to see how well designed the forts and palaces of the 15th and 16th Centuries were. Two of the most beautiful are the Amber Fort in Jaipur and Fatehpur Sikri on the way to Agra. They were both built around the same time as the Taj Mahal. Water was harvested from the entire complex. Every drop of rain water flowed to catch basins around the palace/fort, which was usually a beautiful and very deep stone pool. Water was drawn up by a system of ascending ox driven, rotating wheels with buckets and aqueducts on the buildings ending up in the water holds on top.
Then water was used to its fullest and most beautiful potential. High pressure, gravity fed water fountains were used for entertainment and tranquility. Innovative air conditioning systems cooled the royalty. Cloth hung over dripping pipes atop open breezeways and chilled the air. Lastly, the water was used for drink and bathing. All this water was filtered and channeled back to a lower catch basin only to be used again. Some of the wastewater was also filtered and channeled to the gardens and fields if possible.
Some of the first damning was done in India, to capture more of the run off and rain from the Monsoons. This enabled cities to thrive where before it was barely possible to exist. All this innovation was dramatic back then. Today, India is at the point it will need a new set of innovative ideas to collect, store and distribute the water that comes but one season a year.
Water is an issue that potentially could bring the country to a standstill. This will require long term planning with corporate drivers and government policy in alignment.
As I continue my travels across India, I am constantly impressed and amazed at this country. It moves increasingly forward in its chaotic and frenetic way, a way that defies logic. Yet it works, things get done. Through the frenzy, problems are solved and results delivered. “Anything for profit,” gets addressed sooner or later. The government is like any other: Good intentions but difficult in delivering the results. But I fully expect that India will figure this out and come through with some very creative solutions.