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Telangana's urban dwellers consume 20 times more 'virtual water', claims study

ANI | Updated: Jul 18, 2019 18:37 IST

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], July 18 (ANI): Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad researchers have claimed that indirect water consumption in urban areas of the state is 20 times higher than direct consumption.
In a study of the water footprint of Hyderabad Metro Development Authority (HMDA) region, researchers observed that while agriculture accounts for nearly 70 per cent consumption of water, in what is known as the 'green water footprint,' urban areas consumed nearly 20 times more virtual water through their various consumption items than physical water, contributing to the 'red footprint.'
The study was led by Professor Dornadula Chandrasekharam, Visiting Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, and his Research Scholar Dagani Koteswar Rao. They performed state-of-art research to understand the water consumption pattern in urban areas.
This study has been published in the international journal Sustainable Cities and Society.
"The obvious image of water consumption that comes to mind is the active or direct water ingestion by human beings, but the water footprint of humankind extends far beyond. Every single item that we use in our daily life has used water at some part of its lifecycle. Water that is hidden in a non-obvious human commodity is called 'virtual water' and the 'water footprint' measures the amount of water that has gone into goods and services that we use," said Chandrasekharam.
The IIT Hyderabad researchers assessed the water footprint of HMDA region, using a consumer-centric approach. The assessment of water footprint embedded in products was done in four broad categories - food consumption, fuels based on fossil energy, electric power and direct water (municipal drinking water).
An observation of this study was that in the HMDA region, 96 per cent of water is consumed as virtual water and only 4 per cent is ingested directly. The maximum virtual water consumption was seen to come from the food industry (70 per cent), followed by the electric power sector (25 per cent). Surprisingly, the fossil fuel sector used only 1 per cent of the total water consumed by this city.
Speaking on the need for developing ways to quantify water usage in urban India, Dagani Rao said, "While there has been much research on managing the direct water footprint in cities across the world, there are significant gaps in our understanding of indirect water footprint in Indian cities."
"The published work did not consider industrial and commercial water usage pattern," Chandrasekharam clarified, adding that further studies are underway in these areas.
Exponential population growth, socio-economic development and changing consumption patterns have increased the worldwide use of water by 1 per cent every year since the 1980s. Chronic water stress affects nearly 2 billion people in the world, and 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of every year, researchers observed. (ANI)