The recent notice from the Thimphu Thromde on the reduction in the volume of drinking water at source, by up to 70 percent, was aimed to prepare Thimphu residents of upcoming erratic drinking water supply.

But experts warn that if the current ways of water management and consumption continue, residents not only in Thimphu but throughout the country, should be prepared to face permanent and continuous loss of natural drinking water reserves in the future.

Snowfall, and rain replenished our springs and streams – nature’s water source in Bhutan. However, according to environment experts, it would be flawed to blame the changing pattern in snowfall and rainfall – a manifestation of the adverse impact of climate change, and the increase in water consumers, as sole responsible for the drying water sources in the country.

For them, the most crucial issue, and which could take a very long time to resolve, was the poor water management and consumption pattern which had detrimental effects on the health of the watershed in the country.

It is embarrassing to complain about water scarcity when there is a river flowing through the middle of the city, says an environmental expert. Sadly though, the value and role of the river remained, for now, reduced merely to wash away human waste.

Otherwise, from cooking food to flushing toilets, and from farming to washing cars, only fresh, clean, and pristine natural spring water was used. The sources of which, unfortunately, had been moving further and further away from human settlements while also becoming smaller, if not drying up altogether.

As a study pointed out, while even assuming the smallest 10 litres cistern, and a minimum of flushing twice a day, a resident in Thimphu would flush away 20 litres of mountain spring water down the toilet in a day. When considered for the entire population of Thimphu,  thousands of litres of clean and pristine natural spring water would be flushed down the toilets each day.

The demand for water had continually increased, while mindless consumption patterns and mismanagement went unabated. Water leakage both in the  supply and consumption process wasted a considerable amount of water, while its improper use – simple as not turning off the tap when not in use, drained away the precious natural water. It is no wonder then, when research presented a much higher per capita water consumption in Bhutan than in socio-economically advanced societies.

From drinking directly from the water taps back in the good old days, to drinking only bottled water today, Bhutanese have become conscious of the quality of the water, it shows. But evidences available also prove we have not become conscious of the way we consume it.

Today, there are about 23 water bottling plants in the country, selling bottled water for all types of consumers. Our conservation achievements in other areas are likely to be watered down, if, on the other hand, drinking bottled water is the only option left.

Water shortages, experts say, would get worse every year. Changing our consumption habits and supply system could help us at least in the short term. The belief is that there is enough water for everyone if the leakages, illegal tapping and equality in distribution is ensured.