Water: Major Problems and Water Management (2022)


Water is life sustaining liquid. It is one of the most important natural resources which is essential for the existence of living organisms.

Water is the most widely distributed key resource to meet the basic needs of a growing population, social and economic ambitions, demanding agriculture, expanding urbanisation, increasing industrialisation and many other causes.

The demands for water is becoming more and more challenging day by day. Hence water in all its forms (solid, liquid and gas) should be harnessed properly.


Drinking water is one of the basic needs for all of us. Unfortunately, about 5.76 lakh villages have been facing scarcity of water. In Rajasthan, people in certain pockets have to wait for hours to collect one bucket of water from water tankers brought by the trains, trucks and tractors. In many hilly areas, the situation is the same. In many tribal and backward areas un-hygienic and unsafe water collected in ponds, tanks etc., during rainy season are the only source of drinking water.

Our country is facing frequent floods and drought often at the same time in different parts because of variable nature and uneven distribution of rains. Besides these, due to large scale deforestation and soil erosion the rivers are silted up causing floods. For sustained and increased agricultural production, industrial development and economic emancipation of the country the most vital resources are soil and water, which need to be conserved, developed and managed efficiently. In India, floods, water-logging, soil erosion, drought salty groundwater, etc. are some of the major problems of water management for agriculture and other needs.

The major problems of water management and the possible strategies of overcoming them are explained here:


Floods refer to the inundation of large parts of land by water, which otherwise remain dry for some duration of time. Flood causes heavy loss to agriculture, livestock and property. Deforestation, overgrazing, mining, industrialisation, global warming, etc. have contributed largely in the incidence of floods.


The best solution to overcome such damage is large scale irrigation projects, which will also protect from other environmental hazards. These hazards may be in the form of increase in water logging, soil sedimentation in reservoirs, damage to forest areas, large scale growth of aquatic weed of nuisance value, displacing wildlife and degradation of valuable landscape etc.

Plantations can reduce the impact of water flow on soil erosion. For water management, Land use State Boards were set-up in 1980 in order to protect the soil and water to enhance their productivity through proper land and water use practices.

Water Logging:

A soil is said to be water logged when it is completely saturated with water, which is caused by water stagnation on flat land and low lying areas. It occurs due to excess rainfall, floods, seepage high water table, obstruction to natural drainage, over irrigation, etc.

In most of the low lying areas, wet conditions persist longer that results in delayed sowing or less crop production. Another impact is that when water dries, salts accumulate on the soil surface resulting in salinity. Since water logging is the second biggest threat to the soil, next to erosion, it is therefore, necessary to study water table fluctuations, groundwater recharge, assessment of seepage from canals, tanks, etc.

Salty Groundwater:

Most parts of the arid and semi-arid regions contain high percentage of sodium salts. Such water is dangerous for agriculture. Continuous use of such water results in the accumulation of sodium salts to produce Usar or alkali soil.

Some of the possible solutions to remove salinity are as follows:

i. Use of gypsum (CaSO4)

ii. Use of molasses, ash and cane sugar extracts

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iii. Cultivation of salt resistant varieties


iv. Recharging with good quality of groundwater


Drought is a condition of abnormally dry weather within a geographic region.

Some solutions to overcome drought are as follows:

i. Development of additional surface water resources


ii. Direct pumping from streams, rivers and open water bodies

iii. Proper regulation of water use

iv. Increase utilization of ground water resources

v. Efficient distribution of canal water


vi. Irrigation according to requirement of crops

Watershed Management:

Rain is the main source of water on the earth. When the rainwater reaches the earth surface, a part of it is evaporated and a part of it is taken by plants, a part of ground water is retained, a part is infiltrated and the remaining water flows as surface runoff through drainage systems into the sea. Each of the river system has separate drainage units which depend upon the terrain, geology, climate and land use pattern.

In order to tackle the problems of water resources and various forms of degradation and to develop these resources for sustained and increased productivity in the regions it is essential to focus our attention to natural drainage units called the watershed (Fig. 15.2). Watershed is defined as ‘land area that delivers water, sediment and dissolved substances through small streams to a major stream (river)’.

The management of a single unit of land with its water drainage system is called watershed management. This technique has several components which includes soil, water and vegetation cover. The natural drainage pattern of a watershed unit, if managed properly, can bring about a year-round supply of water.

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There are two main steps of its conservation:

1. Construction of many long trenches and mounds along the contours of the hill to hold rainwater and allow it to percolate into the ground. This ensures that underground reservoirs are fully recharged. This is followed by growing of grasses and shrubs which hold the soil firmly.

2. The second step is to form nala plugs in the streams, so that water is held in a stream and does not rush down the hillside.

The proper management of watershed is to maintain the water yield confined to the drainage so as to derive maximum benefits and sustained productivity by proper land-use and suitable cropping patterns. The various conservation and crop management practices should be adopted in such a way that loss of soil, as well as moisture, is minimized.

The main objectives of soil and water conservation are as follows:


i. To conserve these resources in the upper catchments by providing suitable vegetation cover to protect soil erosion and to prevent the silting of river channels and the reservoirs, which prevent the flood.

ii. In case of cultivated areas, the conservation measures are different and depend on agricultural practices, economics and other aspects.

Other conservation measures undertaken for watershed management are as follows:

Engineering practices:

These include land leveling, shaping, contour bunding, terracing, grading of land, bank protection, check-dams, etc.

Agronomic practices:


These include protection by vegetation, such as grass cover, pasture development, contour farming, strip-cropping, crop rotation, etc.


Under this, plantation is done, while overgrazing and forest fires are controlled.

(Video) Why California Chooses Aggressive Conservation Over More Water Supply | Brett Barbre

Integrated Watershed Management:

In recent years watershed management has received wider acceptance.

It incorporates several diversified programmes, such as:

i. Amendment of alkali and acid soils

ii. Control of shifting agriculture

iii. Creation of State Land use Survey Organisation

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP), have taken more initiatives for soil and land use survey and for planning of soil conservation programmes. Awareness was created to develop, conserve and manage the land in the wider perspective in the various sectors. It is, therefore, considered necessary to have some high level body where all matters related to soil and water resources could be discussed under one platform.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, has set up State Land use Boards under the chairmanship of Chief Minister of States, to take up all matters about the natural resources their utilization and degradation of land. The Government of India has launched an integrated watershed management in the catchments of flood prone rivers with the collaboration of NRSA and ISRO.

Rainwater Harvesting:

Old people said ‘capture water when it rains’. It is also true in the present context of water crisis. Today, the world is facing serious water shortage. Every drop of water is valuable because ‘where there is water there is life’. There has been increased aridity in India over the last few decades. Water scarcity is likely to increase in India due to increasing population. Under extreme conditions in future, human society will be bound to use different means of adaptation due to climatic changes.

Objectives of Rainwater Harvesting:

1. To reduce loss from surface runoff

2. To avoid flooding

3. To meet the increasing demands of water

4. To raise the water-table by recharging groundwater

5. To reduce groundwater contamination

Need for Rainwater Harvesting:

Why does rainwater need to be harvested? It matters more today than any other time in the past.

There are following reasons:

1. About 50% fresh water goes waste due to runoff.

2. More than 1 billion people lack clean drinking water globally.

3. Population increase is much faster than the increase in the amount of available fresh water.

4. Per capita availability of fresh water will further decrease in the coming years.

5. During summer and droughts, it will supplement the domestic water requirement.

(Video) What happens when our water dries up? | DW Documentary

6. Climatic changes also lead to increase in precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, occurrence of storms and changes in biogeochemical processes affecting water quality.

7. It is essential to reduce groundwater pollution and improve the quality of water.

8. It is a better option for providing clean and safe water particularly for drinking and other domestic uses (Table 15.3).

Rainwater Harvesting Technology:

Rainwater harvesting is the method of storing rainwater and thereby increasing the recharge of groundwater. As India since the very beginning was primarily an agricultural country, the need to harness water was felt. This is also due to fact that rainfall in our country occurs only for two to three months; therefore, water needs to be conserved for its use throughout the year. Even the ancient civilizations like Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, etc. provide excellent examples of water harvesting through a network of tanks and reservoirs. Some of the old forts like Jaigarh Fort near Jaipur and Fatehpur Sikri near Agra, also provide good examples of water storage through rainwater harvesting.

Several techniques are in practice to recharge groundwater. One method is to manage rainwater in such a way that it is used at the source. If as much water as possible is collected and stored, it can be used after the rainy season is over. This method has been traditionally practiced in dry areas. Simple local techniques such as ponds and earthen embankments can help in the harvesting and storage of rainwater. Rural and urban water use, restoration of streams for recreation, fresh water fisheries and natural ecosystems, etc. need rainwater harvesting. Local practices for rainwater harvesting can provide sufficient amount of water.

One hectare of land in an arid region with 100 mm rainfall annually could yield one million litres of water per year through rainwater harvesting.

Deep wells may provide a source of clean water, but it is possible only in the rural areas. Traditional systems could become more efficient if scientific attempts are combined to enhance their productivity. Other methods are refilling of dug-wells, recharging of hand pumps, construction of percolation pits, trenches in the agricultural fields, bunds and check-dams etc. (Fig. 15.4). The above practices have been used since long in India. Now there are advanced techniques of water harvesting systems such as canals, tanks, embankments and wells.

In hilly areas, rainwater harvesting has been practiced in rooftops and springs with the help of bamboo pipes. In arid and semi-and regions, wells and step-wells were constructed to tap groundwater. Construction of tanks has been a very popular method in recent years to conserve rainwater.

Rainwater harvesting treatment is very important in the areas where pollution is alarming. It is now possible to use nano-filtration for the removal of hardness, natural organic materials, pesticides, bacteria, viruses, salinity, nitrates, arsenic and other pollutants. Weather and water policy should be integrated and may be streamlined to promote rainwater harvesting in the water stretched regions of the world. In the urban areas, water resources are fast depleting due to population increase and unrestricted use of water.

Modern Rainwater Harvesting:

Availability of water has become a major problem in the urban areas due to high density of population. In many cities, water is available only for an hour or so and that too in a trickle. The urban areas are mostly dependent on groundwater due to which its level is falling day by day. The problem is further compounded by the fact that most of the urban land is covered by concrete structures making hindrance to groundwater recharge.

To overcome this problem, rooftop rainwater harvesting has proved to be an effective method. In this method, the rainwater falling on rooftops, which otherwise flows down the drain, is diverted to an underground tank for future use. Rainwater can also be diverted to dug-wells or pits for recharging groundwater (Fig. 15.3). In Rajasthan, tremendous work has been done by Sri Rajendra Singh to collect rainwater by constructing check-dams. He was awarded the Magasaysay Award for his commendable work.

Top 10 Water-Rich and Water-Poor Countries:

Water-Rich Countries:

Iceland, Surinam, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, Gabon, Solomon Islands, Canada, Norway, Panama and Brazil.

Water-Poor Countries:

Kuwait, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Malta, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Moldavia, Israel and Oman.


What are the major water problems? ›

Based on these studies, the major water problems facing the world are: (1) Provision of safe drinking water. (2) Water requirements for further agricultural, hydroelectric and industrial developments. (3) Sustainability of water development projects. (4) Development of water resources shared by two or more states.

What are the problems in water management? ›

In India, floods, water-logging, soil erosion, drought salty groundwater, etc. are some of the major problems of water management for agriculture and other needs.

What are the main cause of water in water management? ›

Natural sources of fresh water include surface water, under river flow, groundwater and frozen water. Artificial sources of fresh water can include treated wastewater (wastewater reuse) and desalinated seawater.

How can we solve the problem of scarcity of water? ›

There are promising new technologies like wastewater recycling, energy-efficient desalination plants, solar and UV water filtration, nanofiltration, and rainwater harvesting systems that can help address water scarcity. Make agricultural irrigation more efficient.

What causes water problems? ›

Overuse, water pollution, lack of infrastructure, and changing weather patterns due to climate change are some of the drivers of water scarcity.

What is water management? ›

Water Resources Management (WRM) is the process of planning, developing, and managing water resources, in terms of both water quantity and quality, across all water uses. It includes the institutions, infrastructure, incentives, and information systems that support and guide water management.

Why is the maintenance of water quality so important in water management? ›

Preserving the quality of freshwater is important for the drinking-water supply, food production and recreational water use. Water quality can be compromised by the presence of infectious agents, toxic chemicals, and radiological hazards.

What is the importance of water? ›

Water helps your body:

Keep a normal temperature. Lubricate and cushion joints. Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

What is the conclusion of water management? ›

It is important to better control the use of underground water that will not be replenished. Longstanding practices, such as collecting rainwater, are being refined and supplemented by newer techniques such as artificial recharge, desalination and re-use.

How can water supply be improved? ›

Implement rainwater harvesting systems to collect and store rainwater for drinking or recharging underground aquifers. Build wells to extract groundwater from underground aquifers. Provide home water-treatment capability through the use of filters, solar disinfection, or flocculants, to make drinking water safe.

What are the effects of water crisis? ›

When waters run dry, people can't get enough to drink, wash, or feed crops, and economic decline may occur. In addition, inadequate sanitation—a problem for 2.4 billion people—can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.

Why is water pollution a problem in our country? ›

Chemicals and heavy metals from industrial and municipal wastewater contaminate waterways as well. These contaminants are toxic to aquatic life—most often reducing an organism's life span and ability to reproduce—and make their way up the food chain as predator eats prey.

How water is wasted everyday? ›

Not turning off the tap when brushing teeth, shaving, leakages, washing vehicles with fresh water are some of the ways we are wasting water on a daily basis. We use about 27% of water for bathing and toilet use. Approximately, a leaking faucet can waste 4,000 drops of water, which is equal to a litre of water.

How do people waste water? ›

One of the most common ways in which people waste water is by leaving the water running when brushing their teeth, shaving or doing the dishes. Turn the tap off as soon as you start brushing, shaving or doing the dishes. For washing the dishes, fill one sink with clean rinse water and one with soapy water.

Who affects water scarcity? ›

Women and children are the most affected — children because they're more vulnerable to diseases caused by dirty water and women and girls because they often bear the burden of carrying water for their families for an estimated 200 million hours each day.

What are the four ways of water management? ›

Methods of water management can be classified as Conservation, Allocation, retrofit program and Behavioral practices.

What is the importance of water conservation? ›

Conserving water saves energy. Energy is needed to filter, heat and pump water to your home, so reducing your water use also reduces your carbon footprint. Using less water keeps more in our ecosystems and helps to keep wetland habitats topped up for animals like otters, water voles, herons and fish.

What is smart water management? ›

Smart Water Management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing and managing the use of water resources using an array of IoT technologies which are designed to increase transparency, and make more reasonable and sustainable usage of these water resources.

How can water quality be controlled? ›

Ways to Prevent Water Pollution
  1. Pick up litter and throw it away in a garbage can.
  2. Blow or sweep fertilizer back onto the grass if it gets onto paved areas. ...
  3. Mulch or compost grass or yard waste. ...
  4. Wash your car or outdoor equipment where it can flow to a gravel or grassy area instead of a street.
8 Jun 2022

What is water in our life? ›

Around 60 percent of our body is made up of water and we can only live three to five days without fluids. Water plays many important roles in the body including flushing waste from the body, regulating body temperature, transportation of nutrients and is necessary for digestion.

What are water sources? ›

Source water refers to bodies of water (such as rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water) that provide water to public drinking-water supplies and private wells. Water sources can include: Surface water (for example, a lake, river, or reservoir)

What's water made of? ›

A water molecule has three atoms: two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom. That's why water is sometimes referred to as H2O. A single drop of water contains billions of water molecules.

What do you mean by water management what is its importance? ›

Water management helps in developing efficient irrigation practices for the betterment of agriculture in the country. Proper utilization of water in our homes too can save this precious resource. Water management teaches us to use a limited amount of water whenever required.

What is water management introduction? ›

Water management is the control and movement of water resources to minimize damage to life and property and to maximize efficient beneficial use. Good water management of dams and levees reduces the risk of harm due to flooding.

Why is water important conclusion? ›

Water is the basic necessity for the functioning of all life forms that exist on earth. It is safe to say that water is the reason behind earth being the only planet to support life. This universal solvent is one of the major resources we have on this planet. It is impossible for life to function without water.

What Colour is water? ›

The water is in fact not colorless; even pure water is not colorless, but has a slight blue tint to it, best seen when looking through a long column of water. The blueness in water is not caused by the scattering of light, which is responsible for the sky being blue.

What is natural water? ›

More Definitions of Natural water

Natural water means all forms of water, including any river, stream, dam, lake, pond, swamp, marsh, canal, whether natural or artificial or other body of water forming part of that water course.

Is water a food? ›

Water is a food as defined in section 20l(f) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (2l USC 32l(f)). It is a normal constituent of many foods and is essential in the preparation and processing of most commercially prepared foods.

Which is the most important reason for maintaining clean water? ›

Our cherished way of life depends on clean water: healthy ecosystems provide wildlife habitat and places to fish, paddle, surf, and swim. Our economy depends on clean water: manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, energy production, and other economic sectors need clean water to function and flourish.

What is water safety? ›

Water safety refers to the procedures, precautions and policies associated with safety in, on, and around bodies of water, where there is a risk of injury or drowning. It has applications in several occupations, sports and recreational activities.

How does water affect our lives? ›

Our bodies use water in all the cells, organs, and tissues, to help regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because our bodies lose water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it's crucial to rehydrate and replace water by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.

How does water impact the economy? ›

Water scarcity leads to food shortages while raising commodity prices thereby hindering trade with developing economies and in the long run cause civil unrest. Water scarcity has a direct impact on rain-fed and irrigated agriculture as well as livestock, and an indirect impact on food processing industries.

What affects water quality? ›

Disturbances such as fires, windthrow, or even debris torrents can influence stream temperature, turbidity, and other water quality parameters. Geology, geomorphology, and climate also influence water quality.

What are sources of water pollution? ›

The main point source of pollution to water is from sewage and waste water treatment, while for diffuse pollution, main sources are from farming and fossil fuel power plants (via the air).

What are two biggest problems with water? ›

Rising temperatures and drought

Climate change is perhaps the greatest threat facing the global water system, simply because in reality it is composed of many different threats.

What are the 4 main causes of water scarcity? ›

Major Causes of Water Scarcity
  • Climate change.
  • Natural calamities such as droughts and floods.
  • Increased human consumption.
  • Overuse and wastage of water.
  • A global rise in freshwater demand.
  • Overuse of aquifers and its consequent slow recharge.

What are the water problems in a house? ›

Water leakage is a serious issue inside a house which should be dealt with in urgency. There are quite a number of factors and reasons contributing to water leakage – it may be leaking plumbing lines or corrosion in plumbing lines, cracks in the walls, damaged waterproofing in the roof, or a leaking AC.

What is water insecurity GCSE? ›

Water insecurity means that many girls living in some rural areas of developing countries can spend hours walking to collect water rather than attending school. Waterborne disease . Drinking or using dirty water puts people at risk of waterborne diseases and illnesses, such as diarrhoea, malaria and schistosomiasis.

What is the importance of water? ›

Water helps your body:

Keep a normal temperature. Lubricate and cushion joints. Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

What are three common water problems? ›

Common Water Problems
  • CLOUDY WATER. Cloudy, murky or grayish water is usually caused by dissolved or suspended solids. ...

How does water affect our lives? ›

Our bodies use water in all the cells, organs, and tissues, to help regulate body temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because our bodies lose water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it's crucial to rehydrate and replace water by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.

What are the effects of water crisis? ›

When waters run dry, people can't get enough to drink, wash, or feed crops, and economic decline may occur. In addition, inadequate sanitation—a problem for 2.4 billion people—can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.

Who affects water scarcity? ›

Women and children are the most affected — children because they're more vulnerable to diseases caused by dirty water and women and girls because they often bear the burden of carrying water for their families for an estimated 200 million hours each day.

What is common water? ›

Common Water is a simple and effective way of experiencing CBD and all its benefits. A patented broad-spectrum CBD formula is infused into fresh spring water with added B + C vitamins to provide hydration and restore balance in your day. Original Sparkling is flavour-free with zero sugar.

What is construction leakage? ›

The entry of water or dampness into a building is termed as leakage. Leakage in buildings is common and it is important to under stand the causes and measures to be taken for their prevention.

How do I stop rain water leaking from the wall? ›

Using high-quality liquid waterproofing compound in the starting stage with cement and sand can be effective. Otherwise, use a waterproof coating before painting your exterior walls to prevent water leakage.

How does water shortage affect economy? ›

The lack of water will have a domino effect on communities: local commerce declines, incomes go down, tax revenues decrease, population declines due to lack of employment opportunities, cities and the surrounding communities shrink dangerously.

How can we increase water supply? ›

Building a wastewater-treatment plant would be a roundabout way to increase your water supply.
You could:
  1. Dam a river and create a reservoir to store water.
  2. Dig more wells to tap groundwater.
  3. Build more water towers to store water.
  4. Build a new wastewater-treatment plant to recycle wastewater.

What is a sustainable water supply? ›

Sustainable water supply means to find reliable and resilient approaches to various human needs for water for that does neither exhaust the water sources and the local economy nor have long term negative impact on the environment.


1. Water Resource Management - Detail
(UC Science)
2. The fight for water | DW Documentary
(DW Documentary)
3. Our drinking water - Is the world drying up? | DW Documentary
(DW Documentary)
4. India's Water Revolution #1: Solving the Crisis in 45 days with the Paani Foundation
(Andrew Millison)
5. Water Problems in a World of Insecurity
(VOA Learning English)
6. Water Resources
(Bozeman Science)

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