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Effect of Climate Change on Water Sources
|by Neelima Garg|
Climate change is one of the most serious threats to the environment, health and economy of our nation as well as the whole world. Recent scientific studies show that global warming is already causing environmental changes that will have significant global economic and social impacts. As the world's 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India has to juggle the imperative demand for economic development with pressures for greater efficiency in the use of energy.
Climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time, regardless of cause. Climate change reflects a change in the energy balance of the climate system, i.e. changes the relative balance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation from Earth. The threat emanates from accumulated green house gas emissions in the atmosphere, generated through long term and intensive industrial growth and high consumption life styles of developed countries.
The studies have confirmed that climate change will result in an intensification and acceleration of the global hydrological cycle. This will lead to change in rainfall patterns that will impact runoff, surface and groundwater storage, river flow regimes. As a result floods and droughts will increase. Besides impacting quality of water sources, there will also be scarcity of fresh water. These changes will, in turn, affect agriculture, water supplies, sanitation and irrigation. These situations would be severe in places that are already water stressed.
In this league, India also needs to adapt climate change to enhance the ecological sustainability of its development growth. The National Action Plan on Climate Change addresses the urgent concerns of country towards climate change. Uttarakhand state has also prepared its State Action Plan on climate change. The main emphasis is on the following:
Enhancing carbon sink potential to reduce GHG emission by operating the pumping plants on maximum efficiency (more than 70% efficiency).
Uttarakhand Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme was initiated as an innovative experiment in Rural Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation Sector. The main objective of the project aimed to deliver sustainable health and hygiene benefits to the rural population of Uttarakhand State by improvement in water supply and sanitation services. Uttarakhand state is situated in the hills of Himalayas where ecological balance maintenance is of vital importance because of the continuous process of soil erosion. Here water source depletion and drying up of water source is main threat of climate change. Therefore treatment of the catchment area is of utmost importance. In the sector programme, as per World Bank guidelines, CACMP have been carried out in 25% of the water supply schemes (adversely affected) based on vegetation, erosion and water quality assessments. Under this programme, check dams, contour trenches, percolation tanks, chal-khals, plantation works have been taken up to increase the water source discharge. Since the water supply schemes were launched through Gram Panchayats, the programme has generated environmental awareness among the community. With the intervention of CACMP, the community feels proud to conserve their own environment and hygienic environmental sanitation is becoming their habit and this is a real achievement. National Rural Drinking Water Programme also stresses the need of water conservation and treatment of catchment of depleting water source.
To address the impact of climate change on water resources, a long-term plan to create water storage for leaner period and policy framework that ensures equitable access to water in time of scarcity is required. This can be done by strengthening communities preparedness, water use regulations and use of environment friendly water and sanitation technologies.
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