Amidst the Pandemic, Lets Not Forget Water Wars

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Save water during coronavirus pandemic

The ongoing pandemic has brought the entire world to a literal standstill. With COVID-19 taking over the rich and poor, old and young alike, there is immense pressure on Governments to educate the citizens and enable them to take necessary precautions in order to curb the spread of this virus.

The primary step to stop the proliferation of Coronavirus is to constantly disinfect. The WHO and medical health professionals have already emphasized that washing hands, cleaning surfaces and being cautious about our hygiene are more important than ever.

However, in a country like ours, 600 million people experience water shortages and nearly 2,00,000 die each year due to unsafe access to water supply. The preventive practices against COVID-19 have led to even bigger problems, putting a huge strain on public health and water infrastructure.

The residential water demand is constantly rising. As people stay home all through the day, more and more water is required for essential processes. Dishwashing, laundry, drinking, bathing – there are a number of everyday activities that need water. Besides, the summer this year has also been very hot.

The most popular COVID-19 advisories suggest washing hands for at least 20 seconds. This would mean 1.5-2 litres of water per wash. Frequent washing means 15-20 litres of water being used by each person. Cumulatively, a household of five individuals would need 100 litres of water only for handwashing.

Water Conservation Methods Amidst Pandemic

But all hope is not lost. There still exist a number of methods which can minimize the amount of water being consumed by average citizens. All of you are urged to adopt these methods for saving water. These methods are:

  • Remember to shut the tap while using soap. Washing your hands for 20 seconds does not mean leaving the tap on simultaneously. After wetting your hands, shut the tap using a tissue/towel. Reopen the tap once you’re done applying soap. Sparing a couple of seconds to close the tap can go a long way in conserving water.
  • Minimize the time taken to shower. If possible, use non-shower methods for bathing. A recent study has revealed that cutting the time you spent showering by merely 2 minutes can save around 6,625 litres of water per year. An ideal shower is about 2 to 4 minutes long.
  • Educate your family members about the importance and need of switching to more sustainable and environmentally conscious practices.
  • Practice the 3Rs: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. Simple practices such as reusing cooking water for watering plants or reusing water used for boiling vegetables to make soup can have a significant impact.
  • Minimize water wastage by keeping a check on any leaks in your premises.
  • While washing your face, shaving or brushing your teeth, be sure you don’t leave the tap running needlessly.
  • Throw solid waste in the dustbin, and do not try to flush it down the toilet.
  • Make a conscious decision to minimize your laundry. One way of doing this is to switch to ironing clothes rather than washing them too frequently.

From our caller tunes to out television sets, all forms of media will stress about hand hygiene and encourage you to wash your hands properly. But what our convenience makes us ignore is the lack of access to clean and safe water which plagues countless Indians, and only weakens out battle against the Coronavirus.

Sadly large chunks of the population in India do have access to basic amenities like water. It is almost impossible to “flatten the curb” unless these issues are addressed. To ensure that no one, including the underprivileged, are carriers of the contagion, it is high time that public health services become universally accessible.

Expecting people who do not get clean water to “disinfect” and “sanitize” is a problem rooted in privilege and stereotypes. The cost of a single bottle of sanitizer is as much as Rs 300, which is almost a week’s earning for some people. A majority of them are deprived of any form of income, and the additional expenses on water, paper soap, handwash put an unimaginable strain.

While it might be easy for some of us to sit at home and choose from a catalogue of options that give us the promise of better hygiene, there exists an entire stratum of individuals who will probably never get that choice. If there is one thing that the virus has made us realize, it is that clean water in our taps is much more than a fundamental right, it is also an absolute necessity to prevent and control the spread of diseases.

Anoushka Raj

Anoushka Raj is pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering at Delhi Technological University. Her interests include water conservation, biodiversity, and polymer sciences.

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