Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Water, “Precious Water”, the still unappreciated “Gold” of Sri Lanka
For the first time in my stay in the farm at Godagama, the prevailing dry conditions have left the main well we draw water from, completely dry. The photos in this blog are the staff engaging in digging the well a few more feet so as to ensure a permanent supply of water. This reminds us all in Sri Lanka, how important our wells are and the wells we dig actually tap into the ground water supplies and the protection and regeneration of groundwater should be a topic of urgent discussion.
In general wells near a paddy field don’t run dry, but this time one did propelling me into a complete rethink of my and the nation’s general water usage policy. To put it in perspective, my locality which was thick with rubber estates 50 years ago is now thick with suburban housing with a well in each home. Then rain would soak into the ground without runoff, due to the sponge like qualities of the soil, refilling any groundwater levels or aquifers further down. There are now no trees to slow down and soak the rain water and instead there is massive run off of top soil and water into the paddy fields, which in turn render the paddy fields useless for cultivation due to the flooding that takes place. This water that seeped into the soil, now finds its way through a series of canals into the Kelani River and the sea, thus depriving us of much needed groundwater supplies.
There is nothing like a personal experience to get one’s adrenalin running at full throttle, to try and persuade all our people to value this free resource. Sri Lankans are world famous for taking anything free for granted and snub the provider of such. There was an outcry when a rumor surfaced about privatizing water, or preventing us from digging wells and instead purchasing all the water we use.
We MUST understand that the well we dig, and the water we take, be it from a well, river or water supply scheme even if it is on our own property is the resource of the nation. One drop of water we take denies another of that same drop, so we must justify that we use it productively sparingly and warily.
We are the most fortunate people on earth. I indulge in well baths, bathing in rivers, and from the tanks without a care in the world. In fact I regularly bathe at least twice a day, and I don’t think I value this enough as a super luxurious lifestyle. As a farmer water is so essential to everything I do, and however much I tell my staff to use it wisely, plug leaking faucets, and realize that they are the fortunate few of the world who frolick in their daily well bath in Godagama, tank bath in Ratmale or river bath in Raja Ela, without a care in the world. As always the appreciation can only be nurtured in our youth to value what is free.