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Water Conservation – Its time to save

By Sajiv Nath

Water in India is profoundly interlinked with the tradition of country having social and economic undertones. Reckoned as second most populated country in the World with over 1.2 billion people (Census, 2011); India’s natural resources are under tremendous pressure “Water “being the most vital amongst them. Increasing population has decreased the per capita water availability from 2,309 cu m (Sharma & Bharat 2009) in 1991 to 1,588 cu m is it 2010? (CWC, 2010). If taken into account the projection of population growth by 2025 the per capita water availability can further decrease t 1,000 cu m leading to a situation called “Water scarcity.

At present, India does not fall under the category of “Water scarce “nation; through it would be truly stated as a “Water stressed” nation. Many towns and villages in various parts of the country are fighting with water stress & ironically those areas where water is available; quality of water is a serious concern.

The rapid growth of Indian economy filled by higher purchasing power, life style changes and increase in urban population are increasing the challenges to the depleting water resources. This situation is aggravated by unfriendly climatic condition like the rapid decline in the Himalayan glaciers & snow fields, increasing drought condition and flood condition spread across the country.

As per re[port by ASSOCHAM and Skymet weather services, with prominent upsurge in the number of hot days and day and night temperature , India is drying out marked by persistent moisture shortfall condition interpreted into Latur like water crisis, The report states that nine states are reeling under drought and it is also reported that there is an increase in the means annual air temperature in many regions of country. So, what does this mean? Will there be a shortage of water?

The ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has conducted a survey and the findings are scary. It is seen over the years that most of the cities in India do not have 24X7 water Supply and the coverage of sanitation has increased but resource sustainability has weakened.

Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Scenario

NRW “Non-Revenue Water (NRW) – defined as the difference between the amount of water put into the distribution system and the amount of water billed to consumers. NRW is a good indicator for water utility performance; high levels of NRW typically indicate a poorly managed water utility. In addition, published NRW data are often problematic, suspicious, inaccurate, or provide only partial information. The causes of NRW, such as leakage due to ageing pipes, theft through illegal connection, and tampering with meters, are major impediment to effective use of water. The water management skill sets need to be upgraded in India. Wastage of water at various points can be reduced as city development and regulations department have not been able to keep the required pace with population growth and urbanization which has resulted in increased wastage of water, and this has raised the demand for better waste water management. Waste water management today, is of paramount importance.

Japan’s average nationwide NRW, at less than10%, is remarkable low by global standard which are signs of prosperity. The Japanese are meticulous in completing their projected work as they believe in technology advancement and diligent approach to job. In our country, cities having population of one million people, require 210 liters/day per capita while they receive a supply of 25 liters/day per capita owing to water loss due to leakage of which 35% sometimes is even difficult to track. Successful utilities actively address NRW by controlling physical losses, ensuring quality DMA metering, customer meter accuracy and making all efforts to keep the number of illegal connections nil. Taking these measures can boost revenue by increasing the amount of water that can be billed while reducing wastage. This increases profitability and improves the return on investment, which the utility can then reinvest retained earnings and improve its productivity.

Targeting 24X7 water supply

In the recent Union Budget 2017-18 there were various policy initiatives introduced such as UDAY, amendments in National Electricity Act, new solar RPO target for states, bio fuel policy, small hydro policy, offshore wind policy, and new hydrocarbon policy. These would in a way help boost the ecosystem and have the ability to attract global investors to India. On the other side we regularly read about water mis management and clashes over water resources between states, I see then next wars, if it happens will be fought for “water”. Reforms are required and the focus should be to reduce non- revenue water, groundwater exploitation and steps should be taken for waste water controlling, Recycling and Reuse of Waste Water.

There are cities which are not serious on water conservation / management which is resulting in increase of water shortage. Some of the recent initiatives by the Government instilling hope are – 100 smart cities project, the National Mission to clean Ganga and the Total sanitation program. The integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) in 2015 created a new agenda and approach for efficient water management in the country. The best part of this initiative is, (It is not a perspective model but process that invites cities) to adjust their current planning and management practices, technology advancement for water management.

I strongly believe that the country’s engineering technical community needs to come together and form a panel, stand united in order to break “silos” between old and new technology, understand the need of their respective city and focus on – reducing water wastage and providing standardised drinking water to the citizen. Natural water resources, storm water / rainwater catchment system as a potential source need to be conserved and maintained aptly to take care of future water requirements. This is possible by introducing new age technology which would help conserve natural resources.

Today, the world is keeping a close eye on India as they would like to see how it can translate words into actions as well accelerate the reform momentum for more sustainable and comprehensive growth. Let us all come together to build green infrastructure for our country, let us reduce, recycle and reuse water.

( Sajiv Nath is Managing Director at Endress + Hauser a Switzerland-based instrumentation and process automation company which holds 6000 patents in the area of water management and energy conservation. Endress’ plant is located in Aurangabad which caters to India market and also exports to South East Asian Countries, South Africa and Australia.)

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