How Bengaluru households can reduce their water demand and consumption, especially through internal water metering, was the focus of a webinar on water management co-organised by Citizen Matters, Biome Environmental Trust, and the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) on November 20th.
Rajiv K N, Additional Chief Engineer, BWSSB, explained why water management was critical for Bengaluru. Once the Cauvery Stage V project is commissioned in 2023, the city will get its maximum allocation of 2225 MLD (Million Litres per Day) from the Cauvery river.
However as per BWSSB’s estimates, the city’s water demand is expected to increase to 2900 MLD by 2031 itself, even as there is no additional water source. By 2051, the demand is projected to be 4,100 MLD. “So we have to manage with the available water in the city,” Rajiv said.
Managing water demand with meters in apartments
Representatives of apartment communities explained the measures they have been taking to reduce water demand. Monisha Varma of Astro Rosewood Regency apartment along Sarjapur road, said her apartment’s water consumption and costs have reduced by a third after the installation of IoT-enabled smart water meters.
While BWSSB installs only one meter for an entire apartment building, internal meters measure the consumption of each apartment unit. Each unit has to pay the water bill based on their own consumption, which would incentivise them to reduce their consumption.
Astro Rosewood Regency had only one functioning borewell, and relied on private water tankers to supply 7,875 kilolitres of water per quarter. A year after internal metering, this has reduced to 4,447 KL. “We spent around Rs 23 lakh to install 192 meters in the apartment overall. The cost per flat was Rs 12,200,” said Monisha. With the reduced spending on tanker water, apartment residents expect the capital spending of Rs 23 lakh to be recovered in two years. “So smart meters are a great way for your apartment to control water consumption, decrease water bills and save water during water crisis,” Monisha said.
Shameer A, a management committee member at SJR Verity apartment in Kasavanahalli, explained the long-drawn process of convincing their community to adopt meters. The community’s borewells yield very little, and they have always had to rely on private tankers.
“We implemented several methods to reduce consumption, like low-flow aerators on taps, rainwater harvesting, etc., but water shortage continued during summer. So we decided to implement water metering in 2016, and visited similar-sized apartments that had implemented it,” said Shameer. The team came back and presented their suggestions to residents, and the majority agreed to proceed with metering.
“But they also had many questions, and we drafted a detailed response which addressed the scope of the project, timelines, etc. But there was still some resistance, so we formed a sub-committee to drive the conversation forward,” Shameer said. With the sub-committee mainly comprised those who were not convinced about metering, things did not move forward immediately.
Shameer and others continued to push for metering in future meetings, and by 2018 most residents had agreed to the plan. Metering was implemented in the apartment in 2019, with visible results. “The story of smart meter metering in SJR Verity is a long one, but it will help a lot of societies that are planning water meter implementation to go ahead without any hesitation,” Shameer said. He also explained the criteria they used for selecting meters.
Community support for best practices
Prasanna K V, Vice President of Bangalore Apartments’ Federation (BAF), said that BAF had set up self-groups on social media platforms for different sectors including water. In these groups, BAF’s member apartments can discuss their challenges and best practices on implementing water-saving measures.
At the webinar, Shubha Ramachandran from SJR Redwoods apartment, who is also part of Biome, demonstrated how she has been reusing reject water from her RO filter. The reject water is channelised into a 100-litre drum, from where it is plumbed to an alternative tap in the kitchen sink for dish-washing. Overflow from the drum is routed into the washing machine as well.
“The question often asked is whether this water is good enough for dishwashing. To know that, we have to know the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) of the water, which can be measured with a TDS meter,” Shubha said, adding that the entire cost of setting up the system was only Rs 2,500.
Srinivas C of Biome said that, in parts of Bengaluru where groundwater is saturated, residents could use it instead of depending on BWSSB’s water supply. “If we are able to dig more wells and extract water from shallow aquifers, that itself will reduce dependency on Cauvery water. And in peripheral areas like East Bengaluru where water table levels have reduced, we can have more recharge wells which will help recharge the shallow aquifer, and over time the deeper aquifer,” he said.
Avinash Krishnamurthy of Biome said that further information on water conservation measures and service providers are available at the website bengaluru.urbanwaters.in
BWSSB’s targets for water management
BWSSB’s Rajiv explained some measures the board is taking to conserve water at the city level:
- Capture and treat 100% wastewater, and rejuvenate water bodies (which are currently receiving wastewater) by 2025. Increase wastewater treatment capacity from 1560 MLD today to 1800 MLD in 2023.
- Target to utilise 15% of recycled water by 2023. Currently, 10% of the recycled water is being utilised. BWSSB is already selling secondary and tertiary treated water from its treatment plants. To supply treated water, the Board has laid pipelines to industries like BEL (Bharat Electronics Ltd), BIAL (Bangalore International Airport Ltd) and Arvind Mills, along with government offices like Raj Bhavan, Vidhana Soudha and High Court.
- Reduce the proportion of non-revenue water – from 35% currently to 30% in 2023.
- Generate power from wastewater through bio solids management, by 2030. The power generated can be used to run BWSSB’s Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs). BWSSB is already generating 1 MW power from its 60 MLD STP at K&C Valley.
- Upgrade the water distribution network since many distribution lines are very old.
- Increase the number of rainwater harvesting (RWH) units in private properties to two lakh by 2023. Currently 1.55 RWH units have been installed.
Watch the full webinar: