Why everything should have a price tag…
Once we shifted from Gurgaon to Pune, it was time to relook at the way we (mis)use our resources on a daily basis. Like their culture and weather, the water supply in both states is also in complete contrast. Where in Gurgaon (a region supported by big glacial rivers and irrigation canals) we never had to worry about water usage , it became our main concern in Pune (a state reeling under drought conditions and dependent on a good monsoon).
Luckily for us, the concern was not the water supply which was 24/7 but the cost of the water usage. From paying flat fee of 200 per month in Gurgaon we ended up with a bill of 2500+ in our first month at Pune. Suddenly water or rather water conservation made it to the center of our dinner conversations and our budget planning. The water shortage was no longer a worrying news headline but a reality to be dealt with on a urgent basis. So, we put in a whole regime to reduce water wastage — mopping our floors every other day instead of daily; reusing RO waste water for mopping, washing dishes, watering plants; using bucket for bath instead of taking showers; ensuring drinking water was not discarded; ensuring washing loads were larger and washing cycles shorter; reducing water pressure in taps; and educating kids to not waste water. The result- within 2 months our bills came down from more than 2500 to less than 1300.
We could make it happen once and these changes have not been difficult to maintain ever since. The small, but significant lifestyle modifications which seemed inconvenient have become a part of our daily routine with little effort. As a family we may be saving money but we are also reducing our negative impact on the resources every day. A bigger realization out of this has been that all this could have been done before as well, and just as easily.
Had there been a monetary unit attached, we as a family could have easily saved more than 15,000 liters of water every month or more than 1,80,000 litres of water an year. This water as per WHO is enough to take care of basic drinking and hygiene needs of 25 people for that whole year.
This comes as a shock when you realize that the only thing stopping us from taking the required step was that we never felt the monetary pinch. The knowledge of the water scarcity stats and the willingness to contribute to its conservation were not enough to lead us to action. What was needed was a price tag that shook us up and made us think about this more seriously. Those reeling under water scarcity already are paying a higher price whether in terms of intensive labor to bring water home or loss of livelihood due to lack of rains. What if a price could be calculated based on the cost of water in these areas and applied to more water affluent areas/countries? May be then we will either see the water meter slowing down or be able to provide water to our growing future population.