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

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

The Bill of Confusion

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A look at the utility invoices sent out to consumers in many cities makes it clear why water is an under-valued resource. The unclear language and confusing acronyms do nothing to educate or inform. Some invoices do not even specify whether they use actual readings or estimates. These pieces of paper seem to be designed to negatively impact the consumers’ trust in the water quality and their willingness to pay. Continue reading

The debates drag on

At the recent World Water Forum in Istanbul, it was good to hear some new topics being discussed such as the energy-water linkage, the need for water-related data and the impact of the financial crisis on the water sector.

But one set of debates that never seem to go away are the ‘Is water a human right?’ debate which leads to the ‘Shouldn’t water be free?’ debate which opens the floodgates for “Should water be managed by the public or private sector?” debate. Continue reading