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Dry runs — past and present

india Updated: Jan 12, 2009 01:02 IST
Hindustan Times
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It happened in India

In 1586 AD, water shortage forced Emperor Akbar to abandon his new capital, Fatehpur Sikri, after just 10 years.

Sinful waste

‘Sin City’ Las Vegas is running out of water -- and time. Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates that the city’s available water resources will be exhausted any time after 2010. Rapid depletion of Lake Mead, the main source, will make its water level dip below the first pump intakes. The city will now need to install new, more powerful pumps at the lower intake, at a cost of $45 million (Rs 217.35 crore). But that’s only a stopgap arrangement. For the long term, the city will need to find new sources of water, cut down consumption and recycle a lot of its waste.

Dark future

Australia’s ‘City of Light’, Perth, could become the world’s first ‘ghost metropolis’ — a city abandoned for want of water. The Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation has assessed it as the city ‘most profoundly affected’ by climate change.

Perth’s main potable water resource is an aquifer, containing 40,000-year-old reserves. Thanks to a thriving mining industry and high standards of living, Perth’s population is nearing 20 lakh. Meanwhile, low rainfall over the last 40 years has drastically lowered the water table.

Another culprit is the citizens’ love of gardening. Typically, 90 per cent of domestic consumption is for watering, and there are roughly 1.5 lakh unlicensed borewells in the city!

So, what’s the way out? Perth generates 11,100 crore litres of waste water every year. It is now planning to treat and pump it into lakes to recharge groundwater. It is also meeting 17 per cent of its drinking water need from desalinated seawater.