Watershed Conservation: A Solution to Global Water Challenge, Reduces Pollution in Cities

A recent study shows that practices such as watershed conservation and river bank restoration will help reducing the pollution in many of the cities in the country like Mumbai and Gurgaon, which have the potential to bring down pollution at the source by 10 per cent. It is also considered to be a solution to meet the water demand in future.

While many of the cities across the world struggles with the problem of water crisis and pollution, a study “Urban Water Blueprint” recently released by the largest environmental organization in world, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), provides an in-depth analysis of more than 2,000 watersheds serving 530 cities.

As per the report, “Investing in natural solutions such as forest protection, reforestation, stream bank restoration, improved agricultural practices and forest fire management can reduce sediment and nutrient pollutants that flow into drinking water sources. These solutions have the potential to improve water quality for more than 700 million people around the world.”

“Agricultural Best Management Practices (ABMP) would be most cost-effective for Mumbai, Bathinda, Hubli-Dharwad, Rajkot, Ranchi, Udaipar and Ujjain.”

“This strategy and also riparian (river bank) restoration would work well for Bhopal, Gurgaon, Hazaribagh in protecting water sources,” Robert McDonald, senior scientist at TNC and one of the lead authors of the report, told IANS in an email interaction. The Blueprint provides science-based recommendations on where these strategies are most cost-effective.

McDonald said that although Indian cities suffer from polluted water sources, they have potential to reduce water source pollution by 10 percent through such cost-effective conservation solutions.

He said, “We found that watershed conservation can be both an economical viable and environmentally sound investment for developed and developing cities alike,” adding, “This would lower water treatment costs by about five percent and improve drinking water for millions of Indians.”

Improving water quality at the source would mean that “less than 1,000 hectares of conservation action would be needed to achieve a 10 percent reduction in sediment or unwanted nutrient pollution.”

The Blueprint was released in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the International Water Association. The accompanying data visualization website can serve as a tool for city and water managers to evaluate the condition of drinking watersheds and the potential impact that conservation strategies could have on water quality.

“Reforestation is the best option for Gwalior and Thiruvananthapuram. Many other Indian cities also hold medium potential for ABMP and river bank restoration,” McDonald said. (IANS)

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