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India's water use 'unsustainable'

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posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 05:18 AM
It's not new but it's coming sooner than the majority thought to be possible...

Parts of India are on track for severe water shortages, according to results from Nasa's gravity satellites.

he Grace mission discovered that in the country's north-west - including Delhi - the water table is falling by about 4cm (1.6 inches) per year.

Writing in the journal Nature, they say rainfall has not changed, and water use is too high, mainly for farming.

The finding is published two days after an Indian government report warning of a potential water crisis.

That report noted that access to water was one of the main factors governing the pace of development in the world's second most populous nation.

About a quarter of India is experiencing drought conditions, as the monsoon rains have been weaker and later than usual.

But weather and climatic factors are not responsible for water depletion in the northwestern states of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab, according to the Nasa study.

"We looked at the rainfall record and during this decade, it's relatively steady - there have been some up and down years but generally there's no drought situation, there's no major trend in rainfall," said Matt Rodell, a hydrologist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC.

"So naturally we would expect the groundwater level to stay where it is unless there is an excessive stress due to people pumping too much water, which is what we believe is happening."

State of Grace

The Grace (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) mission uses two satellites flying along the same orbit, one just in front of the other.

Minute differences in the Earth's gravitational pull cause the two craft to shift slightly in their positions relative to one another.

The mission can measure groundwater depletion because the amount of water in aquifers has a small gravitational attraction for the satellites.

Three years ago, Grace scientists noted a loss of water in parts of Africa - but the Indian result is more striking.

"Over the six-year timeframe of this study, about 109 cubic kilometres of water were depleted from this region - more than double the capacity of India's largest reservoir is gone between 2002 and 2008," Dr Rodell told the BBC.

The northwest of India is heavily irrigated; and the Indian government's State of the Environment report, published on Tuesday, noted that irrigation increased rice yields seven-fold in some regions compared to rain-fed fields.

Dr Raj Gupta, a scientist working for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), said that the current drought would lead to more groundwater extraction.

"Farmers receive no rains so they are pumping a lot more water than the government expected, so the water table will fall further," he said.

"The farmers have to irrigate, and that's why they're pumping more water, mining more water. The situation has to stop today or tomorrow."

Dr Gupta noted that some farmers might be able to switch from rice to crops that demand less water, such as maize or sorghum.

But, he said, that would depend on government policies - which have traditionally promoted rice - and on market demand.

Climate change is likely to be a constraint too, with the area of South Asia suitable for wheat forecast to halve over the next 50 years.

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 05:54 AM
and yet no one cares about this post?? THIS IS AN AMAZING AND Riveting POST...people rather see the SIGNS NOW, that see theM COMING.

im curious if this is the 2012 gloom scenario people are predicting?
IS there a certain reason why its only happening here? (obviously no water) but i mean wind and air pressure etc.

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 06:01 AM
Water shortage is and will be one of the greatest problems of the whole world. Sure, we are on the lucky side, but when people from the poor countries have no water any more, they will start wars with each other and spread over the whole world, in search for the most important resource - water. And we waste it, as if there'd be no tomorrow.


posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 06:04 AM
I'm sick of this crap. Let the Indians figure it out they are smart people. We as human beings are so stupid. We are completely disrupting this planet in irrevocable ways. Indian is hardly a country that can support billions of people. It's crazy. There is plenty of fresh water in this world, maybe not "clean" fresh water but just like there is plenty of food/land to feed people there is plenty of fresh water for everyone to use. It's about how we manage it. In fact the Earth is the same overall. I think the Earth could EASILY support double it's population. But we sure as wouldn't be able to live like hyperconsuming Americans/Westerners. It's all about management and efficiency and conservation. I hardly think India's use of water is very efficient or "green". I'm sure TONS of it is simply wasted. I'll give you an example.

We as humans have or will have plenty of technology to use this Earth MUCH more efficiently/cleanly than we do, and pollute much less of it. But while we are fighting each other (useless wars/taking advantage of each other financially, and consuming mindlessly) instead of putting our heads together I can't say I have much faith in the future. Americans represent 1% of the population yet consume 25% of the world's resources. Talk about inefficiency on a disgusting scale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Probably 15% of that goes towards useless and unnecessary Chinese plastic crap!

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 06:08 AM
reply to post by Wachstum

"Fresh" water is in short supply. But 2/3 of this planet is covered in water. Once the technology becomes cheaper desalination will become much more common place. I don't agree with desalination solving all our problems. But it will help A LOT. We just have to figure out how to deal with all the waste from the process. We idiots will probably just shoot the salt back into the ocean killing all the wildlife and plant life in the ocean. We always come up with the technology but then end up screwing it up.

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 06:50 AM
reply to post by Zosynspiracy

desalination is very expensive right now, and imho will never be affordable for those countries, who really need it. Ivory coast for example. Plus, desalination does not help countries with no access to the sea. And there is no way, that enough water could be transported over vast distances.

technology does not have all the easy solutions, every time...

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 09:05 AM
Water has always been the reason for many wars to happen.

Desalinization is an obvious option but why spending money with it if we can spend that money with weapons instead.

This BBC article talks only about India but this is true for the whole planet.

Desalinization will not prevent forests to disappear nor deserts to arise.

posted on Aug, 13 2009 @ 09:10 AM
reply to post by Wachstum

Sorry but that's your opinion and it's neither based on current trends nor science. Many third world countries and fairly industrialized countries like India have spent lots of money on oil pipelines. It would be very practical and efficient to set up a water pipeline feeding major population areas of the country. I mean come on, CA was planning on piping water from the Great Lakes at one time. They pipe water all throughout the state. And yes desalination is expensive right now. Computers and TVs were at one time very expensive as well. Innovation, efficiency, etc. will eventually make desalination VERY affordable and worth the investment. The problem with desalination is the waste it produces. Right now many who use this technology simply pump it back into the ocean which is a big no no. But desalination is becoming more popular and widespread. I've been to several resorts in Mexico that are investing in it. San Diego will have a plant supposedly online in a few years.

Look I'm not saying desalination is the answer but water technology is in its infancy really. India really doesn't have any other choices now does it?

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 04:45 AM
What I say is that desalinization is just a temporary remedy, not a solution.

Piping all the underground fresh water is just going to delay the already known outcome.

Desalinization has been used for quite a long time but it's not just a matter of money, it's really about using it for every single aspect where fresh water is required.

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 05:23 AM
Another contribution to this particular subject...

India's Groundwater Disappearing at Alarming Rate

Farming is a thirsty business on the Indian subcontinent. But how thirsty, exactly? For the first time, satellite remote sensing of a 2000-kilometer swath running from eastern Pakistan across northern India and into Bangladesh has put a solid number on how quickly the region is depleting its groundwater. The number "is big," says hydrologist James Famiglietti of the University of California, Irvine--big as in 54 cubic kilometers of groundwater lost per year from the world's most intensively irrigated region hosting 600 million people. "I don't think anybody knew how quickly it was being depleted over that large an area."

The big picture of Indian groundwater comes from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, launched in March 2002 as a joint effort by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the German Aerospace Center. Actually two satellites orbiting in tandem 220 kilometers apart, GRACE measures subtle variations in the pull of Earth's gravity by using microwaves to precisely gauge the changing distance between the two spacecraft.

As the lead spacecraft passes over a patch of anomalously strong gravity, it accelerates ahead of the trailing spacecraft. Once past the anomaly, the lead satellite slows back down. Then the trailing spacecraft accelerates and again closes on the leader. By making repeated passes over the same spot, GRACE measures changes in Earth's gravity, which are mainly due to water moving on and under the surface. Most famously, GRACE has recorded the shrinking of ice sheets; it has also detected shifting ocean currents, the desiccation of droughts, and the draining of large lakes.

Outside of wasting ice sheets, the world's largest broad-scale decline in gravity during GRACE's first 6 years came across a 2.7-million-square-kilometer, east-west swath centered on New Delhi. That's according to a study in press in Geophysical Research Letters by geophysicists Virendra Tiwari of the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, India; John Wahr of the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Sean Swenson of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Adjusted for natural variations due to changing precipitation and evaporation, the decline in gravity that GRACE determined equates to a net loss of 54 plus or minus 9 cubic kilometers of groundwater per year, the group reports. That would produce a fall in the water table of about 10 centimeters per year averaged over the entire region.

A falling water table across the northern Indian subcontinent comes as no great surprise. The GRACE region of sharp groundwater depletion coincides with the world's most intensely irrigated land: Fifty percent to more than 75% of the land is equipped for irrigation with pumped groundwater or reservoir water. And then there are those 600 million people drawing heavily on groundwater. But, the group calculates, the GRACE-determined depletion rate implies that groundwater was being pumped out 70% faster in this decade than the Central Ground Water Board of India estimated it was in the mid-1990s. The apparent surge in withdrawal would have been large enough to turn a once-stable water table into a falling one that demands ever-deeper wells and bigger pumps and may draw in salty or polluted water.

GRACE "has shown us we can do a pretty reasonable job from space" gauging groundwater depletion, says Famiglietti. "We can help regional water managers by giving them a holistic view of a whole system." Still, across the subcontinent, no one knows how far down the water goes. They just know, as Famiglietti notes, that "it's not bottomless."

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 09:50 AM
reply to post by Zosynspiracy

I hardly think India's use of water is very efficient or "green". I'm sure TONS of it is simply wasted.

I agree with fact that most of the water is wasted "lavishly" through pipe breaks. Trust me, I have seen one huge pipe break turn a road into a lake one morning when water is supplied on in a week.

But still, that is not the main reason for te fall in water level. It is the population demand for water that causes this. Here in India, the avaerage per capita consumption of water is very low.

A comparison,

As of 2007, residents of Vancouver, on average used 295 litres of water per day (Per capita water consumption number is 542 litres per day factoring in non-residential water use).

When you happen to look at 2007 stats for Mumbai, you get a figure of about 191 litres per day per capita (which presumably also includes a heavy load from non-residential use), but there are some major cities such as Bhopal (right in the middle of India and a city with over 1.5 million residents), where the daily consumption is calculated at 72 litres per day per capita (again, this would include non-residential use). To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to just over 3 conventional toilet flushes (~67 litres).

Science blog

As you can see, though the consumption is less, it is the population demand that is driving this.

To give you a brief outlook on the strain on resources.

Each year India is adding 18 million people, roughly another Australia. By 2050, U.N. demographers project that it will have added another 530 million people for a total of more than 1.5 billion. If India continues on the demographic path as projected, it will overtake China by 2045, becoming the world's most populous country. Well before hitting the one billion mark, the demands of India's population were outrunning its natural resource base. This can be seen in its shrinking forests, deteriorating rangelands, and falling water tables. For Americans to understand the pressure of population on resources in India, it would be necessary to squeeze the entire U.S. population east of the Mississippi River and then multiply it by four.

World watch

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 09:59 AM
in the op it said they are not experiencing drought conditions. This is about overpopulation and not climate change, imo.
I agree with whoever said that India is just too small to support it's population.

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 10:11 AM

Originally posted by heyo
in the op it said they are not experiencing drought conditions.

May I correct you a little bit.

There is every possibility of 2009 being a “drought year” with weather officials saying that only rainfall 30% in excess of normal for the remainder of the monsoon from mid-August to September — a near impossibility — can now stave off the spectre of drought.

Times of India

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 10:34 AM
reply to post by novrod

Ty for posting this.

Here's a very interesting related article:

As India water and power dry up, the people revolt

Oh and if you do a news search for "himalayan glaciers" you will find further alarming facts.

[edit on 14 Aug 2009 by schrodingers dog]

posted on Aug, 14 2009 @ 12:48 PM
This was not about India in particular but it does concern me that such a huge country, both in area and population number, will suffer because of the lack of water sooner then ever expected.

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