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Despite perennial water woes, India can become a water-secure nation by using smart technology combined with traditional water conservation means.

By Anup Kumar Tripathi

As the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic, a perennial problem has been temporarily pushed to the background – water shortage. Ironically, the relegation has happened in 2020. This is the year when a 2018 NITI Aayog report had warned that 21 Indian cities could face Day Zero – wherein taps across these cities run completely dry. India apart, many nations worldwide are gradually sliding towards water deficiency. Before Chennaiconfronted Day Zero, Cape Town in South Africa faced the ignominy of leaving its citizens high and dry without water.

Like elsewhere in the world, shortage of this ‘liquid gold’ in urban and rural India can potentially lead to water riots. This has already occurred in some cities and countries across the globe. In India, among multiple issues, water shortage is worsened by two wrong practices. The first-overexploitation of groundwater reserves.The second – lack of adequate water harvesting.

The second issue isn’t surprising since only 8% of the country’s yearly rainfall is captured and then conserved. The rest simply washes away as runoff. No doubt, the lack of adequate water management lies behind India’s water deficit.

The good news: there are multiple means for saving water and moving steadily towards water security. The best way to conserving water is by practicing the 4Rs – reducing, reusing, recycling, and replenishing. When it comes to the first R, reducing, smart systems can make a big difference in minimizing water usage. For instance, the maximum wastage of water occurs in bathrooms and washrooms.

Today, technological solutions offer a wide range of urinals and toilet choices that need minimal water. Highly-efficient flushometers use less than five liters in a single flush versus 10 – 15 liters in conventional flush valves. Likewise, high-efficiency urinal flushometers need only 1.9 liters per flush against traditional ones that need double the quantity. Moreover, for 100% water savings, waterless and hybrid urinals are best. Some of the latter use a cartridge as a drain trap. A sealant liquid then functions like an airtight barrier segregating the drain and the washroom. Thereby, odors cannot escape. Hybrid urinals automatically dispense 4 liters of water in every 72 hours to clean trap and drain line.

Similarly, water faucets with automatic sensors save about 60% water while solar or battery-operated ones offer 40% savings on energy too. Then there is an integrated-sink-system with soap, faucet, dryer and sink which reduces the usage of water and energy by 67%.

For reusing and recycling water, dual piping systems are appropriate. Such systems segregate water into reclaimed and potable. The potable water is useful for cooking, drinking, and washing whereas the recycled water can be used in flushing toilets, gardening, and irrigation. Reclaimed or recycled water denotes sewage that has been treated. Thereby, waste and harmful bacteria are eliminated, making such water suitable for landscaping and flushing toilets. There are specific flush-valves that perform well and long-lasting on reclaimed water.

In much the same way, dual plumbing systems can segregate greywater. This refers to wastewater that is relatively clean, flowing out of bathrooms, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, and kitchen appliances. Additionally, it does not contain biological pollutants or fecal contamination.

Finally, replenishing groundwater reserves is one of the top ways of ensuring water sustainability. Globally, this goal is achieved via rainwater harvesting. This also addresses the concern of rainwater runoff, which is captured and conserved. Although rainwater harvesting is great for conserving water and replenishing groundwater reserves, it must be practiced uniformly across the country for the desired benefits.

In promoting water management and conservation methods, two small nation-states can serve as role models. The first is Israel, which holds an excellent record in storing, conserving, and supplying water most efficiently. The second is a city-state, Singapore, which has deployed digital technology in water and wastewater systems, transforming its water management and advancing water security.

In essence, a combination of smart technology and traditional conservation methods can ascertain that India becomes a water-secure nation. Given the grim water scenario in many regions, the time to begin these efforts is now.

– Anup Kumar Tripathi
Country Head
Sloan India Private Limited

A seasoned professional with a career spanning over two decades in the building materials industry, Anup Kumar Tripathi is currently the Country Head, Sloan India Private Limited. Anup joined Sloan Valve Company in January 2015 as the Country Head for Indian Subcontinent business. Before joining Sloan, he was the General Manager – Sales at Tropical Industries International. He has also worked with Hindware and Jaquar and Co. Besides, he has played an instrumental role in helping a few global brands like Hansgrohe, Teuco&Keramag to enter into the Indian market. A multilingual, Anup speaks five languages – English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, and Italian. He is an alumnus of Agra University and Poorvanchal University with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management respectively. Apart from work, Anup is a jovial person by nature and a supportive team leader. In his free time, he loves traveling and also enjoys writing, reading, and listening to music.

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