Water Pollution

Mains Marks Booster     31st July 2023        
output themes

As per NITI Aayog, overall, 70 percent of the freshwater sources in the country were found to be contaminated 

and India ranks 120 out of 122 countries in terms of water quality.

Causes of Water Pollution

Water pollutants come from either point sources or dispersed sources. A point source is a pipe or channel, such as those used for discharge from an industrial facility or a city sewerage system. 

A dispersed (or nonpoint) source is a very broad unconfined area from which a variety of pollutants enter the water body, such as the runoff from an agricultural area.

  • Domestic Sewage
  • Solid waste
  • Toxic waste

Impacts of Water Pollution: Destruction of biodiversity. Water pollution depletes aquatic ecosystems and triggers unbridled proliferation of phytoplankton in lakes — eutrophication. Contamination of the food chain

Initiatives to Control Water Pollution:

National Measures: 

  • Legal Measures: Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act of 1974 and the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986. Preparation of action plan for sewage management and restoration of water quality in aquatic resources by State Governments
  • Financial assistance for installation of Common Effluent Treatment Plants for cluster of Small Scale Industrial units
  • Issuance of directions for implementation of Zero Liquid Discharge
  • Implementation of National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) and National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP)for conservation and management of identified lakes and wetlands

International efforts:

  • The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is a unique international legal instrument which aims to ensure the sustainable use of transboundary water resources 
  • The Protocol on Water and Health, jointly serviced by UNECE and WHO-Europe, is a unique legally binding instrument aiming to protect human health by better water management and by reducing water-related diseases. 
  • SDG-6: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

Way Forward:

  • Eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemical into water.
  • Efficient Plastic waste management
  • Minimizing the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • Increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals 
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
  • Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and well-being. 

Initiatives to control water pollution

Arth Ganga

  • Introduction: Arth Ganga is a transformative initiative to rejuvenate the Ganga river and foster sustainable development in the Ganga basin region.  It aims to integrate economic activities with ecological considerations, ensuring the conservation and revitalization of the Ganga river and its surrounding ecosystem.
  • Key objectives: River Conservation, Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity Conservation, Afforestation and Reforestation, Riverfront Development and Tourism: 
  • Key features: Monetization and Reuse of Sludge & Wastewater, Livelihood Generation Opportunities, Increased, Public Participation, Promotion of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, Institution building


Arth Ganga serves as a pioneering model of river rejuvenation, merging economic growth with environmental sustainability. Through initiatives in pollution control, sustainable farming, biodiversity conservation, reforestation, and promoting cultural heritage, it embodies a holistic approach to transforming the life and landscape of the Ganga basin.

Water Sensitive cities

"Water-sensitive cities are not just about managing water, they are about creating vibrant, resilient, and livable urban spaces. They are cities that understand the value of water,embrace its presence and integrate it into every aspect of urban life."  

News in Focus: 

Water-sensitive cities in the Global South emphasize the need to address inequalities in access, functionality, and reuse of water resources for sustainable urban development.


  • Definition: Water-sensitive cities are urban areas that adopt integrated, sustainable water management approaches to ensure efficient use of water resources, reduce water pollution, and enhance overall water resilience. 
  • Aim: They aim to minimize the environmental impact of urban development on water systems while maximizing the social, economic, and ecological benefits associated with water.

Key Principles of Water Sensitive Cities:

Key Principles of Water Sensitive Cities


  • Water Security: Efficient water management systems like Singapore's NEWater meet a significant portion of water demand, ensuring a reliable water supply.
  • Flood Risk Reduction: Amsterdam's multifaceted flood management, including the "Room for the River" program, mitigates flood risks and enhances urban resilience.
  • Water Conservation: Melbourne's water-sensitive urban design, rainwater harvesting, and reduced water consumption practices contribute to sustainable water use and conservation.
  • Biodiversity Preservation: Portland's ecosystem restoration efforts, such as improving water quality in Johnson Creek, support biodiversity conservation.
  • Climate Change Adaptation: Copenhagen's Cloudburst Management Plan and similar strategies enhance urban resilience to extreme rainfall events caused by climate change.
  • Sustainable Urban Development: Freiburg's Vauban district exemplifies sustainable practices, including rainwater infiltration and decentralized stormwater management, promoting environmentally friendly urban development.


Rapid Urbanization

Pollution and Water Quality
  • Climate Change Impacts: Rising sea levels, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and changing rainfall patterns pose challenges for water-resilient cities, as seen in cities like Miami, Florida, facing threats of saltwater intrusion and flooding.
  • Aging Infrastructure: which leads to leakages, inefficiencies, and water losses, undermining efforts for water resilience.
  • Financial Constraints.


  • Sustainable Water Management: Implementing practices like rainwater harvesting, wastewater reuse, and water-efficient technologies to optimize water resources and reduce reliance on freshwater sources.
  • Green Infrastructure: Investing in urban green spaces, permeable pavements, and green roofs to manage stormwater runoff, enhance water infiltration, and improve water quality.
  • Water-Efficient Policies, Infrastructure Upgrades, Climate Change Adaptation, Community Engagement 

Urban Water Agenda 2030: An initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to promote sustainable and equitable water management in urban areas, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Water-sensitive cities are essential for addressing the growing challenges of water scarcity, pollution, and climate change. By integrating sustainable water management practices, promoting community engagement, and adopting innovative technologies, cities can achieve resilience, improve quality of life, and ensure a sustainable future for all.

                                     Extra Marks Fetching component by theIAShub

Initiatives in India

  • Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban): A flagship program aiming to achieve universal sanitation 
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan: A national campaign promoting water conservation
  • Tamil Nadu is implementing the mandatory Rainwater Harvesting
  • Lake Rejuvenation Programs: Initiatives like the Bellandur Lake Rejuvenation Project

One Water Approach

"Adopting a 'One Water' approach means recognizing that water  is a finite and interconnected resource, requiring us to manage it holistically and make decisions that consider  the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of water sustainability." 

  • Definition and Overview: The One Water Approach, also known as “Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)”, recognizes the value of all water sources.
  • Emphasis: It emphasizes the integrated, inclusive, and sustainable management of water resources involving multiple stakeholders.

Why is the “ONE WATER” approach better than conventional water management practices? 

  • Integrated resource management: all water sources, such as drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater, leading to more efficient and sustainable water resource management.
  • Enhanced water efficiency: By promoting water recycling and reuse, the One Water Approach optimizes resource utilization. 
  • Climate resilience: The One Water Approach considers climate change impacts and develops strategies to enhance resilience. 
  • Cost-effectiveness: Integrated water management approaches can provide cost savings. 
  • Environmental benefits: The One Water Approach incorporates green infrastructure, such as wetlands and green roofs, which provide multiple environmental benefits.
  • Community engagement and empowerment: The One Water Approach encourages community involvement, leading to more inclusive and participatory decision-making processes. 


The One Water Approach holds immense potential for the future of water resource management. By integrating all water sources, promoting efficiency, resilience, and community engagement, it offers a pathway towards sustainable and holistic management, ensuring reliable water supplies for both human and ecological needs.

output themes