FEATURE SERVICE

Waste Water Reuse, the key to Conservation

by - March 22nd, 2017

India is staring at a severe scarcity of per capita availability of water by 2050. The country's per capita water availability has taken a hit due to spatial and temporal variations of available water supply. Further, rising economic growth and changing lifestyles, coupled with effects of climate change, are proving disastrous for this variability.

India is staring at a severe scarcity of per capita availability of water by 2050. The country's per capita water availability has taken a hit due to spatial and temporal variations of available water supply. Further, rising economic growth and changing lifestyles, coupled with effects of climate change, are proving disastrous for this variability.

The need of the hour is to improve efficiencies in the way we use water. Indeed, the ever-increasing pressure on our finite water resources for agriculture, in domestic households and in industry has set them on the course of depletion. This has prompted an evaluation of the need to employ innovative solutions that help in augmenting water resources.

Recycle and reuse of waste water is a good example, one that is an emerging area for businesses. A circular economy sees waste water as a resource with a massive potential to rehabilitate natural ecosystems and serve a range of sectors. Agriculture is a good place to start, where it can be used for artificial recharge of aquifers.

Policy Support

As stated earlier, in India, there is policy support for recycling and reuse of waste water. For example, the National Policy 2012 recognises that "recycle and reuse of water should be the general norm."

India's demand for water is growing in all sectors, given continuing economic growth and improving lifestyles. Climate change will affect the variability of water supply in many countries, including India. The water use efficiency target of the National Water Mission of India can be achieved if, interalia, waste water is also recycled and reused in many sectors.

Policy implementation is the key

India's National Water Policy 2012 prioritizes the productive use of waste water and states, "recycle and reuse of water should be the general norm".

Yet, the policy environment suffers from inadequacies in the formulation of specific guidelines for implementation on the ground. The National Urban Sanitation Policy 2008, which recommends that every city reuse a minimum of 20 percent of waste water, is a case in point.

The National Water Policy does suggest that incentives through carefully-planned tariff systems are crucial. The application of treated waste water in irrigation has also been suggested in various policy initiatives undertaken by the Central Pollution Control Board and the states.

Rajasthan's Sewerage and Waste Water Policy 2016 is a fine example that encourages agricultural use of waste water but here again there’s a need to ramp up monitoring of standards and capacity-building of state environmental regulatory authorities. Similar regulatory interventions place the focus on onsite sewage treatment facilities in cities like Bengaluru where structures with 20 or more housing units must have an on-site sewage treatment capacity.

These approaches are worth considering in that they could usher sustainable changes to the sector and its stakeholders. They could also help expand the size and value of the waste water market.

The National Water Mission makes it compulsory to increase water use efficiency by 20 percent in all sectors. While this may appear difficult to achieve on the face of it, there is no doubt that our finite water resources must be conserved, recycled and reused.


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