Water is a very important resource that is necessary for sustenance for any kind of being. Water supply refers to the provision of supplying water by public utilities, individuals through a system of pipes, pumps, tankers etc. Typically there are three main sources of water: groundwater, surface water and rainwater. In India, all the three sources of water play a prominent role and is dependent on all the 3 sources of water.
Under Indian Constitution, the subject “water” is in the state list. However, the Centre has the mandate to resolve conflicts over use of inter-state rivers. Centre also plans water allocation and provides technical support for large projects in generation of power, irrigation and drinking water. In India, water governance is fragmented which leads to inconsistent water policy between the Union and states.
A number of programs have been launched to increase ‘access’ to water supply and sanitation(WSS) infrastructure, including the centrally supported Accelerated Urban WSS Program and recent programs like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT). The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) also launched the National Urban Sanitation Policy (NUSP) in 2008 with the goal of making all Indian cities totally healthy and sanitized.
Water supply in some of the major cities
All the major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore,Delhi-NCR etc have their sources of water in either groundwater or surface water. In some places like Chennai the source of water is also rain water.
The water distribution system of Mumbai is about 100 years old. Water is brought into the city from the lakes after treatment, and stored in 23 service reservoirs. Since two of the major sources, Tansa and Lower Vaitarna, are at a higher level than the city, not much power is required to pump the water.
The service reservoirs are mainly situated on hills. Some of them are located at Malabar Hill, Worli Hill, Raoli, Pali Hill, Malad, Powai and Bhandup. Timings of water supply to different parts of the city vary between 2 and 5 hours.
The water supply to Mumbai from various sources is about 563 million gallons per day (MGD). The monsoon precipitation i.e rainwater that gets accumulated is collected in six lakes and supplied to the city through the year. 460 MGD are treated at the Bhandup Water Treatment Plant, the largest in Asia. The Bombay Municipal Corporation manages to supply between 70 and 75% of the city’s water needs.
The city of Chennai is entirely dependent on groundwater resources to meet its water needs. Ground water resources in Chennai are replenished by rain water. Chennai has historically relied on annual monsoon rains to replenish its water reservoirs since the rivers are polluted with sewage. Water to the city’s residents is being supplied from desalination plants situated at various locations in and around the city. Supply of groundwater to the residents and sewage management in Chennai is taken care of by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (MetroWater).
The primary sources of water in the city of Bangalore are the Cauvery water and groundwater. Cauvery water is imported to the city by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board(BWSSB), over 100 kilometers (62 mi) south of the city.The Cauvery water meets about 80% of the city’s demands. Other sources of water for Bangalore include the Arkavathy river which meets 20% of the the city’s demands.
In cities like Delhi-NCR, supply of water is dependent on Yamuna and Ganga. Delhi also receives certain amount of water from Haryana. Raw water is obtained from various sources line the river Yamuna, Bhakra Storage, Upper Ganga Canal, and Ground Water.The nodal agency for water supply in Delhi is Delhi Jal Board(DJB).
Water Supply in Houses
Water supply is an important civic infrastructure. Supply of water is an important prerequisite for sustenance of life. When on the lookout for your dream property one has to make the necessary enquiries regarding the supply of water and its source. Water supply should also be portable so that apart from being used for other purposes it can be safely used for drinking. During your site visits it is important to enquire what the source of water is and also if there will be 24/7 supply of water. Certain apartment societies despite being promised a regular, clean water supply by the builder have been cheated and thus these societies have no choice but to resort to other methods like buying portable water from tankers. Such a move is heavy on the pockets of the residents as they have to shell out extra money for such an essential resource.
Places like Bangalore also have the facility of getting Cauvery water apart from regular groundwater. However the Cauvery water supply is limited to certain timings on particular days. The information pertaining to release of Cauvery water is mentioned in the BWSSB website.
The Government of Karnataka in 2017 required the compulsory establishment of Sewage Treatment Plant(STP) irrespective of the age of the apartment. The BWSSB also decided to impose a penalty clause incase apartment societies failed to set up STP’s. However this move was thoroughly opposed by the various stakeholders like resident welfare associations, citizen groups as the installation of STP was a costly affair and not feasible in apartments where pipework was already in existence.
The government then decided to roll back on its decision and made installation of STP mandatory only in new apartments and also in apartments which did not have a sewage line. The STP rule currently exempts existing apartment complexes with underground drainage network.
From May 2018, The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) rolled out a concession for apartments with sewage treatment plants (STPs) by pairing tariffs with consumer installation.Until now, all STP paid flat commercial rates, but from April 1 (retrospective effect), apartments operating STPs will pay at domestic rates which are considerably lower. Thus, if the STP is located in a residential apartment complex, the same domestic rates will apply.
With growing population and depleting water resources it is the need of the hour to take steps towards water conservation. The Bangalore Revised Master Plan 2031(RMP) which is currently under consideration envisages a population of 2 crore. The gross water demand including non-domestic activities has been estimated at 4,282 MLD(Million litres per day) for the projected population of 2.03 crore.
Collective steps need to be taken by the community and society as a whole to make water conservation a reality. Individual steps like checking leaks in pipes, waste water reuse, rainwater harvesting are some of the small steps that go a long way in helping conserve our water resources. Many real estate projects keeping in mind of the importance of water conservation employ rainwater harvesting techniques to deal with any water crisis. It is also the duty of apartment societies to collectively achieve the goal of water conservation by regularly ensuring maintenance work is carried out of its water works like pipes, pumps water motors etc.