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Efficient water management, via smart technology in restrooms and other zones, can ensure water security by curbing excess usage.

By Anup Kumar Tripathi

A 2018 NITIAayog report has warned that as many as 21 Indian cities were approaching Day Zero in 2020. Day Zero refers to the time when taps in cities run dry, especially since groundwater reserves are being depleted. The cities under threat include Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, and Hyderabad, among others. In fact, almost 600 million people are struggling due to the country’s worst-ever water crisis. In such scenarios, analysts warn water riots could erupt in many parts of India.

Fortunately, if water management measures are undertaken on a war-footing, the impending crisis can be controlled as the nation gradually moves towards ensuring water security. While many measures are discussed in tackling water shortages (such as rainwater harvesting, water management initiatives, conservation and rejuvenation of water bodies, etc) one area of excess water usage perennially slips under the radar – washrooms.

High-Usage Zones
Undoubtedly, washrooms use plenty of water since a single flush may drain between 8 and 20 liters, if not more. Public washrooms/restrooms can be particularly prone to overuse. But today, smart technology can be deployed in ascertaining efficient and minimal water usage in commodes and washbasins. It is here that ‘Smart Washrooms’ come into play in promoting water conservation and sustainability. Significantly, the smart washrooms save both water and energy. Through these measures, the major objective is in maximizing water-efficiency through sustainable restroom solutions.

The importance of conserving water cannot be overstated. It’s not without reason that water is termed “liquid gold”. Or, as Andrew Liveris, CEO – Dow Chemical Company said: “Water is the oil of the 21st century.” No surprise then that the World Economic Forum has repeatedly red-flagged the looming water crisis as a top-three business risk vis-à-vis its impact. Given its rising scarcity, the average cost of water has soared 33% since 2010.

In India, more than dozen-odd states have been identified as drought-affected regions. Indeed, 54% of the country already faces high-to-extremely-high water stress. The lopsided demand-supply ratio is a clear cause for concern. A NITIAayog report notes that while demand was 634 billion cubic meters, the supply of water was 650 billion cubic meters in 2008. But by 2030, the overall demand is set to surpass supply at 1,498 versus 744 billion cubic meters, respectively.

As the country annually uses 7,610 billion cubic meters, studies indicate the major use of household water occurs in flushing the toilet, followed by showers and bathing. In increasing water usage, though, India is not alone because worldwide water consumption has doubled in the past two decades. Considering its ubiquitous use, water is interrelated with food and energy consumption.

Restrooms apart, there are other high-usage zones. All modern structures such as office buildings, hotels as well as motels, hospitals, and schools are susceptible to wasteful water usage. In schools, restrooms account for 45% use followed by landscaping (25%), heating/cooling (20%) and kitchen/pantry (10%). Where office buildings are concerned, while restroom/domestic use comprises 40%, heating/cooling (28%) and landscaping (22%) are also high. In hotels, the breakup is guestrooms (30%), kitchen (25%), laundry (20%), heating/cooling (15%) and landscaping (10%). Hospitals have amongst the highest restroom/domestic usage at 40%. Similarly, in residential indoor water usage, the toilet consumes 26.70% and washing clothes comes next at 21.70%. 

Water-Saving Solutions
This unfortunate state of affairs makes it critical to consider solutions promoting lower water usage. Clearly, it is time to deploy smart technology in saving water at the place where it’s consumed most – toilet/washrooms/restrooms. One also needs to remember that solutions should be sustainable while combating the impact of higher carbon footprints and supporting water conservation. As a result, the focus must revolve around clean, smart, sustainable restroom solutions, especially through best-in-class innovative plumbing systems.

Water-efficient plumbing systems are critical when one considers that people in the developing world survive on less than 11 liters of water daily. On the other hand, most people in the country routinely flush the same quantity each time they visit the toilet. To boost efficient water usage, people simply need to switch over from manual to sensor-based flush tanks.

In fact, an array of water-efficient True-Flushometers are available in the market, using at least 20% less water than conventional systems. On the other hand, sensor-based urinal flushometers use an incredible 88% less water than manual ones. Taking water conservation to another level, water-free urinals offer 100% water savings simultaneously lowering repair and maintenance costs. Then there are hybrid urinals that eliminate the water flush by integrating an automatic drain-line purge.

Automatic-sensor faucets are another excellent option, saving water, boosting hygiene and enhancing restroom aesthetics. These faucets can save almost 60% water compared to traditional faucets. Or take the battery- or solar-powered faucets, which provide 40% water savings. And integrated sink systems, where soap-faucet-dryer is fitted on a designer sink can save up to 67% water. Likewise, low consumption showerheads, with 7.50 LPM reduce water usage by up to 20%.

Thanks to the wide spectrum of efficient, water-saving plumbing systems in the market, India’s water-security mission can be somewhat easier to achieve – if all public and private institutions, as well as residential homes and buildings, use such smart technologies.

About the Author
Anup Kumar Tripathi is the Country Head of Sloan India Private Limited.

Sloan is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial plumbing systems and has been in operation since 1906. Headquartered in Franklin Park, Illinois, the company is at the forefront of the green building movement and provides sustainable restroom solutions by manufacturing water-efficient products such as flush valves, electronic faucets, and soap dispensing systems, sink systems and vitreous china fixtures for commercial, industrial and institutional markets worldwide.

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