‘Water water everywhere; nor any drop to drink,’ said English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. That it could come true very soon if we do not do something about it was the main theme at the critical urban talk ‘Our Water’ organised at the Indo - German Urban Mela on Wednesday. The first of four critical talks, ‘Our Water/ Our Waste/ Our City’ addressed questions on providing access to clean water to everyone, implementing waste water systems and the methods of intelligent use of water.
The focus of ‘Our Water’ was the problem of water scarcity plaguing the city, the policy measures, the problem of water treatment and the ways in which treated water can be put to maximum use. There was consensus on the fact that rain water harvesting is still an effective method.
“But it can be only if each one of us cooperate and make it happen. It is our house and so we should make sure we save water. We cannot run for help to the government for something that is for our personal homes,” said L Venkatachalam, associate professor of Economics, Madras Institute of Development Studies, one of the panel members.
S Vinobha, senior hydrologist, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD), highlighted the State’s water resources and said that the main reason why water was the subject of such contention was because of it’s “scarcity, inadequacy and unsustainability”.
Another issue that the panelists and the audience came together on was decentralisation of waste water treatment. T Vijay Anand from Exnora International said that the biggest problem the city faced today was untreated sewage. “If we can decentralise the process of treating waste water, if we can manage to do the process locally, waste water management would see a lot more success.”
The panelists also handled questions from the audience on the various ways in which treated water could be used as well as challenges faced during the process of waste water treatment. There are the three other urban talks scheduled, focusing on waste management, the city’s ‘political economy’ and how urban participation and intervention could help urban development.