Water body is an important feature of urban landscape. Nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh water and   only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to feed its 6.8 billion people. Water crisis is particularly very severe in highly populated urban areas and it is going to be further aggravated with world becoming urban as pointed out by the World Commission Report on Environment and Sustainability by 2020. 

With about 1.2 billion people without access to drinking water and about 2.4 billion lacking basic sanitation, the symptoms of emerging global water crisis are too obvious. It is projected that the population under water stress will rise from 450 million at present to 2.7 billion by 2025 and Indian subcontinent is already being classified as the ‘water stressed’ meaning that water needs exceed its availability. As per NITI Aayog, India is facing water crisis with around 50% population experiencing high-to-extreme water shortage. 

A large number of water bodies recently have been lost due to anthropogenic activities and the remaining water bodies are under stress due to risk of degradation. Throughout the world, many water bodies are suffering from pollution and encroachment problems from industrial, urban and agricultural development. 

Importance of Urban Water bodies: 

A lake or pond is the Water Body which holds certain volume of water generally in all seasons of the year and are an intrinsic part of the eco system. Some of the important functions of urban water bodies are as follows:

1. Drinking

2. Washing

3. Urban Agriculture

4. Religious and Cultural purpose

5. Micro-climate

6. Ground water recharge

7. Channelize of water basin which prevent flooding during rainy season

8. Flora and fauna ecosystem

9. Regulate Urban Heat Island effect

 Issues of Urban Water Bodies Due To Urban Development: 

Spatial Development: Urban development has had a significant impact on the surface water bodies and their riparian zones either by size reduction or complete reclamation. 

Floods: Flood is one of the threat to urban water bodies especially during the rainy seasons most of the low lying areas in India experience floods. 

Pollution: urban water bodies in India are suffering because of pollution and are used for disposing untreated local sewage and solid waste, and in many cases the water bodies have been ultimately turned into landfills. 

Encroachment: Encroachment is another major threat to water bodies particularly in urban areas. 

Social and Cultural Misuse: water bodies are also miss use by local communities such as immersion of  idols, Open-defecation etc. 

Eutrophication: Industrial effluents, run-off  from agricultural fields, refuse and sewage, domestic wastes like food remnants, soaps, detergents and sewage are dumped into lakes which break down and release nutrients in the lake water. 

Conventional urban water supply and sanitation management is generally characterised by an unsustainable use of water and nutrients. This represents important environmental, economic and social challenges, which are intensified by the process of urbanisation.


Disruption of the natural water cycle


Depletion of groundwater sources: In urban settings, the use of shallow groundwater sources is an especially common feature of many low-income communities and more than half of the world’s megacities depend on groundwater.

Waste of resources: Water treated to potable water is used for non-potable purposes such as toilet flushing, garden use and industry. 

High water demand: Urban areas usually have a higher per capita consumption of water compared to rural areas.  

A city of about 3 million population is estimated to produce nearly 10 crore litres of waste water daily which can be re-cycled and re-used, to amply meet the local/non-potable needs. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has the mandate, inter alia, to conserve/restore urban lakes/water bodies, re-use and re-cycle waste water, etc. In order to address water scarcity, it is important to undertake efforts for conservation, restoration, recharge and reuse of water. In this pursuit, Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS), Government of India is launching Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) from 1st July, 2019. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is participating actively in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) along with States/UTs/ Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to make water conservation measures a Jan Andolan.

Guidelines for Urban Water Conservation Jal Shakti Abhiyan