When tourists consume more than the locals

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I had hung up my towel on the rack for reusing. The usual placard in the Delhi hotel bathroom said only towels on the floor would be replaced. But when I returned to my room at night, I found a new towel in place.

That was in 2013, the year when 35 five-star hotels were given notice by the Delhi government for using 15 million litres of water per day of municipal supplies. Half of these hotels did not have a dedicated sewage treatment plant. It was one of the hottest summers and Delhi residents were suffering disruptions in water supply.

Tourism-related water use is very small as a percentage of total water used in countries. And yet, the local picture is entirely different. This is because it competes for the same water used by the local population. Continue reading

Thailand’s inventor king who left his imprint on water resources

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Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-ruling monarch (1946-2016) has passed away. For Thais who are less than 70 years old, he was the only king they ever knew – an adored father figure and a unifier. But the water sector will remember the king for an unusual achievement – rainmaking. Continue reading

Water quality is not just a developing country issue

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Pollution of America’s drinking water is in the news again. 15 years ago, when I saw the Oscar-winning Erin Brokovich, it opened my eyes to the horror of industrial water pollution in the developed world. Continue reading

Using the power of Big Data

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Everywhere you look, you find data. There is data from invoices, storage records and delivery records. There is data from millions of machines: sensors, meters, smartphones, CC TV cameras, industrial machines and endless gizmos. Then there is social data coming from Facebook likes, tweets, youtube views and more. There is data about data. As the world gets “smarter” with more collection of data, it is also getting more cluttered. Continue reading

Cleaning the Ganga is not about just cleaning the Ganga

http://www.niticentral.com/2014/08/29/cleaning-ganga-an-environmental-cultural-need-236845.html

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Living with floods in a warming world

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As cities expand to swallow entire floodplains and coastal areas, often extending even beyond the boundaries of land to reclaim thousands of acres of waters from nature, they are becoming more vulnerable to climate change. Continue reading

Keep the baby, throw the bathwater

baby out with bath water

A 16th century idiom “throwing the baby out with the bath water” leaps up in front of me ever so visually during my interactions with people these days. Whether it is nuclear power generation or capital punishment or religion, I wonder why entire concepts are considered flawed because they did not work sometimes. A number of media-hyped failures or mistakes lead to wholesale rejection of an idea or solution. People do not bother to see the whole as composed of parts and to see which part has failed. Puerile, uninformed discussions are held at meetings in the real and virtual space without considering all the facts. Continue reading