Fresh water sources are scarce in India and a possibility of monsoon failure this year is already a concern across the country. WaterAid reports that 7% of rural India (63.4 million people) has no access to clean water. In the desperate need to conserve fresh water primarily for drinking purpose, the use of recycled Waste Water in industrial and non-potable applications is gaining acceptance.

As per a WHO report, about 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use faeces contaminated drinking water sources. However, a recent World Water Council (WWC) survey stated that the drinking water standard has improved in India in the last five years but a lot of work still remains.

The Ministry of Drinking Water, claims that of 1.7 million rural habitations provided drinking water under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), about 77% have achieved a fully covered (FC) status (40 litres per capita per day safe water), 19.3% habitations are partially covered (below 40 LPCD safe water) and 3.73% are “water-quality affected habitations”. Additionally, as per the ministry 16% of India’s 167.8 million rural households only have access to piped water. The government’s strategic plan for 2011-2022 aims to provide 50% of all rural households with piped water and 35% of rural households with household taps by the end of 2017. Under the plan, they want to achieve, 90% rural households with piped water and 80% of rural households with household taps by 2022.

According to the World Bank, India is the biggest consumer of freshwater in the world (~ 750 billion cubic metres annually). By 2030, the water demand is expected to rise to 1.5 trillion cubic metres. The latest assessment by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), States of Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana consume much more groundwater than their rechargeable limit every year, and are vulnerable to severe water shortage. The per capita availability of water is continuing to decline and water scarcity is going to become a major crisis in the coming years.

Talking about Waste Water in India – Is it a growing problem? – Yes! But this holds enormous opportunities as well – with about 70% of India’s Waste Water still released untreated. In India, class-I cities and class-II towns alone generate about 29,000 million l/day (mld) of waste water. A collection system exists for only about 30% of the waste water through sewer lines, while treatment capacity exists for about 7,000 mld. The lack of proper infrastructure, treatment technology and treatment capacity has led to this rising concern. To reduce the demand stress for fresh water, Waste Water is a prospect that is not fully explored.

Mumbai’s sewage system consists of approx. 1,900 km of sewer network, 51 pumping stations and seven Waste Water treatment plants. A Strategic Recycled Water Master Plan – known as India’s largest recycled water plan – is in process and will outline the framework for reuse of tertiary treated effluent from all seven of Mumbai’s waste water treatment plants and serve as a guide document to build infrastructure for recycled water in a phased manner.

Bengaluru, on the other started its first waste-to-power sewage treatment plant which generates 1MW of power using a biogas engine. This is the first time that the water board will be using biogas to generate power – that will be enough to meet 50% of the plant’s power needs. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted in the construction of the plant equipped with the best machinery from across the world: gas engines from Austria, blowers from Hong Kong, pumps from Norway, diffusers from the US and submersible mixers from Sweden.

All India states are also taking similar initiatives and the involvement of the private sector is much needed. India, hosting 17% of the world’s population, and only 4% of the water resources, extracts water significantly for various developmental purposes. The increasing acceptance for usage of treated waste water in areas like agriculture, industry, sanitation etc., is unveiling ample prospects, especially for Waste Water treatment equipment and service providers in Waste Water re-cycling, industrial effluent treatment and sea water desalination. There are prospects also in Waste Water treatment infrastructure, building water sources, storage & distribution.

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