Guest Post: Photo Essay on Water Loss due to Leaks

community, india, outreach, photos

A guest blog post originally published on the India Water Portal (IWP) by my friend and colleague Praveena Sridhar. She has given me permission to re-publish her beautiful pictures and insightful post about water leakage in India.

As I had been waking up to a leaky tap in my new house for quite some time, I thought it would be interesting to look at the different ways water gets wasted. In this post, I attempt to do a photo blog from my past photo collections on this subject from different parts of the country.

Tanker Leak
This is an image of a leaking pipe from a tanker used by Municipality to provide water in areas with water shortage in Mulbagal, Karnataka. I took this photo during a project visit to the town few weeks ago.

Leaking Stand Post
This is an image of water leaking from a community stand post, again in Mulbagal. Mulbagal is the town where the pilot project for Integrated Urban Water Management is being planned and implemented by Arghyam in partnership with various organizations. I will write more on this project in the next post.

Leaking Bore Well
This is an image of water leakage from a municipal bore well. Don’t think, from looking at the operator’s hand, that he has opened the bore. He is actually yet to open it! This is how the pipe is without opening the hose. This photo is again from Mulbagal taken during a water sample collection for water quality testing.

Although all the above images are from Mulbagal, it’s not just in Mulbagal such cases of leaks are found from tankers, stand posts or bore wells. It is a scene which one comes across quite often through the country.

Leaking Kolkata
Kolkata, the city of joy, is a wonderful place. It lets everyone with any economic background live well. The above is a photo from Kolkata where such hoses are found all through the city on the main roads. These hoses are left on for two hours in the morning and evening. The purposes of such hoses are to provide water for the people who live on the roads and slums to clean themselves and to meet their domestic needs. It is very noble thought and well appreciated, but the municipality could have given a knob to open and close these taps. Whoever wants to use the water can use it even when there are knobs. What is the need to let such open hoses go for two hours in the morning and evening go on nonstop?

Leaking Screw Tap
This is a knob of one of the water pipes used to clean the train toilets when the train reaches a particular railway station designated for cleaning. This photo is taken on one such railway station.

Leaking Steam Engine
This is a photo of a steam engine of the toy train which runs between Metupalayam and Ooty. This belongs to Nilgiris Mountain Railways which is one of the oldest railways in India. This engine is not run on coal but is modified to run Diesel. Diesel produces the steam by boiling the water instead of the coal used in the olden days. This toy train has to be refilled with water at one of the stations in-between Metupalayam and Ooty. This is a photograph of one such refill on the Hillgrove station. A ride on this toy train a pleasurable one, it takes you into the past, gives one a feel of the place during the 1940s. But do we really need to waste water for the pleasure?

It may be a very easy question for me to ask sitting in front of the computer, writing my thoughts. What really needs to be done to reduce such water leaks? How do we address these water losses? It is not an easy answer. The solution is a mix of technology, awareness generation in community, and creation of monitoring systems to check such leaks in systems by the governments.

Note: Next post will be about my visit to Mulbagal and the Integrated Urban Water Management Pilot Project conducted there.

Stay tuned to her posts on the IWP by checking this link for updates.

Kakamega Youth Talk About Water Problems in Kenya

africa, community, drinking water, outreach, photos, visions of water, visions of life, water availability

Youth are our future and our future depends on water. In the last Visions of Water, Visions of Life interview, students at the Kakamega School for the Deaf talked about water and life in Kenya. They were asked:

What do you believe is the solution to improve the water situation in your village?

They are hearing-impaired, so they drafted their answers on a chalkboard. Below is a glimpse into the daily life of these students. Some rainwater harvesting tanks were recently donated to their school, but after this source is depleted – during they dry season – they rely solely on river water. We thank them much for providing this information to the world.

Sheila Agufa


Agesa Silus


Daniel Milavi


Joseph Milongo


Are you a student that would like to get involved in water issues? Do you want to contact these students in Kenya? Please visit the ECAG Website. Or – to meet other youth interested in water issues – check out the YouthNoise DROP Campaign Website.

Greenwashing and Water Advertisements

drinking water, drought, economy, outreach, photos

Have you ever seen an advertisement for a product claiming to be sustainable?  Has an advertisement like the one below (by Nestle) ever convinced you that a product is good for the environment?

Above Photo: EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

As I heard today on Think Out Loud, an advertising organization called EnviroMedia Social Marketing and the University of Oregon have created a website called EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index to provide a forum for people – you the consumer –  to compile and discuss these types of advertisements.

It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.

– EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

A simple search for the keyword water shows several ads that dupe the consumer into thinking a product is sustainable. For example, look at the ad below for cotton – the catch line is “Cotton: the environmentally friendly fiber.” Yet cotton is a water intensive crop often grown in water scarce locations. So do you think cotton is environmentally sustainable?

Above Photo: EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

Register on the website to comment on this ad or upload more ads that you think have been “greenwashed”.

Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World – A Book Review

climate change, drinking water, drought, economy, groundwater, international, outreach, photos, water availability, water conflict

As readers of Water for the Ages may have noticed, I’ve been on an extended holiday break (to visit family in East Tennessee). Arriving back to the Pacific Northwest, my mailbox was full with letters, bills, Christmas Cards, and other postal paraphernalia. Yet, to my surprise, there was one mysteriously large and somewhat heavy package addressed to me.


Soon, I discovered this large package was a massive, coffee-table sized book called Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World published by the Blue Planet Run Foundation in San Francisco, California. The Blue Planet Run book was published to raise money to assist in meeting the Blue Planet Run Foundation’s goal of providing safe drinking water to 200 million people by 2027. One hundred percent of all royalties from the sale of this book will be used to fund drinking water projects around the world.


Opening the book, I was immediately transported around the world through the vivid photographs that graced cover to cover. These images, taken by photojournalists over a period of one-month last year, tell the stories of rapid development and its effect on water supplies, dam construction, access to water in crowded cities, new water technologies, and leaders who are making strides in water access and supply. Several essays are also featured throughout the book written by authors including Robert Redford, Diane Ackerman, Paul Hawken, and Bill McKibben.

And, after coming home to indoor plumbing and plenty of fresh water, this book helps me remember (during this holiday season) just how lucky I really am.

Vital Water Graphics

international, outreach, photos, united nations

I’ve uploaded a new link to the Podcasts & Web-Media page on Water for the Ages. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has just released an updated 2008 version of a report called Vital Water Graphics: An Overview of the State of the World’s Fresh and Marine Waters. The goal of this report “is to produce a clear overview, through a set of graphics, maps and other illustrations, of the current state of the world’s fresh, coastal and marine waters.”

Some graphical topics in this report include:

  • Freshwater Resources
  • freshwater-world

    • Water and Climate Change


    Akvopedia: Open Source for Water Technology

    drinking water, general, international, investments, outreach, photos, sanitation, sustainability, technology, water availability, water treatment

    The new website Akvopedia shares knowledge of water and sanitation technology, open source style, to ensure these resources are available to more people worldwide.

    Open Source: (in computing) Of, or relating to a product which is licensed to permit modifications and redistribution [for free] of its source code.

    Linux, the One Laptop Per Child (XO laptop) project, the Mozilla web browser, Creative Commons, Peer-to-Peer networks, Open Office, and Wikipedia are multi-faceted examples of open-source technology. The open-source realm relies on a philosophy of sorts – so that freedom and sharing of a specific (or any) knowledge will allow for that specific, underlying body of knowledge to be improved upon in infinite ways.

    Wikipedia, one famous example of interactive knowledge sharing, has a striking factual accuracy compared to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. Now the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) strives to create a similar clearinghouse for water and sanitation technology through the recent unveiling of Akvopedia.

    Akvo = means water in Esperanto (theoretical universal language developed in the late 1800’s)

    Thomas Bjelkeman, founder of Akvo. Photo courtesy Akvo on flickr.

    Akvopedia features portals to discuss, share, update, and refine knowledge about:

    sanitation, pumping and transportation, storage, treatment, and use of water
    toilets, collection, transportation, treatment, and use of products
    NGOs, governmental organizations, research organizations, funding organizations, and commercial companies
    project management, individual and collective, and supporting approaches

    The website has reviews and specifications for building water and sanitation infrastructure from:

    And the website provides a virtual setting for NGOs or others with water or sanitation project ideas to find funding. In short, Akvopedia provides access to open-source water and sanitation technology. This website will empower communities and promote localized development of water systems throughout the world by providing the knowledge, funding, and resources necessary.

    Thank you Akvopedia!

    With your support, Akvo can speed up the pace of water and sanitation development in some of the poorest parts of the world. Small Non-Governmental Organisations can act themselves. They can use new tools, share knowledge, specify projects, find funds and make things happen. They can be heroes. Akvo is creating an open resource, forging relationships with everyone around the world who shares this vision. We’d love to have you involved.

    Public Drinking Water around the World

    drinking water, india, international, outreach, photos, sustainability, technology, water availability

    BYOB – bring your own bottle (for water), that is.

    ‘Fatherpur Sikri drinking water stand.’

    Photo Courtesy INDIA a County of a Billion People Blog

    ‘A row of drinking water vending machines in Pattaya, Thailand. A liter of water sold (in a customer’s own bottle) for 1 baht.’

    Above Photo: Vmenkov on Wikipeida

    ‘A drinking water post in the Rohtak district of India.’

    Above Photo: Water Supply & Sanitation Branch, Haryana

    ‘This is a fountain in the Pueblo of Santa Catarina four miles away from Panajachel, Guatemala.’

    Above Photo: blog

    ‘A Mayan woman with a child at a solar water treatment fountain in Guatemala.’

    Above Photo: Aqua Sun International

    ‘Interesting photo of water cooler on the street behind the Niger Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.’

    Above Photo: Blog

    ‘An Italian drinking fountain.’

    Above Photo: