When tourists consume more than the locals

towels

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

Multi-purpose infrastructure is the need of the day

30BE6317-E021-4319-B4DE-6ACAF6483582By now, we all know that cities account for more than half the world’s population. Come 2050, it is expected that another 2.5 billion people will move from villages to cities. In China alone, more people that the whole population of the USA today will move into cities by 2050. These are mind-boggling numbers and present a scary picture of the future liveability of cities or rather the lack of it, especially in South and Southeast Asia.

Already, we see how a day of intense rain causes havoc with flooding. The inexorable march of climate change is bringing more intense rain at odd times or no rain at all. The ‘heat island’ effect of cities with bumper-to-bumper traffic jostling for space with humans gets accentuated during times of no rain. Continue reading

Myanmar on the cusp of change

IMG_1506After decades of isolation, Myanmar is welcoming investments and technical expertise from international organisations. Its water and wastewater sector needs to be built up from scratch. Will Myanmar be able to avoid the mistakes made by countries in the region? Continue reading

Why are Hindu texts being blamed for India’s sanitation problems?

gurukul

The New York Times has just published an article which reports that malnutrition in India is not so much caused by the lack of nutrition as due to the lack of sanitation. This is indeed a damning discovery.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/world/asia/poor-sanitation-in-india-may-afflict-well-fed-children-with-malnutrition.html Continue reading

Passing the torch of learning

John Armitt

Each time a city is chosen for holding an important event such as the Olympics, it transforms the city’s landscape forever. Glittering new sporting venues shoot up along with parks, flyovers, apartments and other structures. The entire city gears up for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of visitors. Infrastructure assumes paramount importance. Suddenly, there is money to build new water/wastewater treatment plants and power stations. Continue reading

The colours of criminal dumping

bangladesh pollution colours

I’ve been seeing red very often these days. It started early this year when The Guardian posted a picture of a bright red Jianhe River in Luoyang, China. The colour was caused by illegal wastewater discharges from chemical plants. Continue reading

Direct Potable Reuse: Crossing the Barrier

Pandering to public perceptions can often lead to expensive and somewhat absurd decisions. Take the case of indirect potable reuse of water. Is it not a waste to purify wastewater to such advanced levels, blend it with water of lower purity and then let it get treated all over again at drinking water treatment plants to supposedly make it fit for drinking? Or to take tertiary treated effluent and make it recharge groundwater through layers of soil pulling in contaminants all over again? Continue reading