Practitioner's Guide: Water Efficiency and Conservation

April 10, 2017

Water efficiency and conservation (WEC) creates alternative water resources, conserves existing and local resources, decreases demand for freshwater in cities and eventually stabilizes at the minimum threshold.

The National Water Mission (NWM) and the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (NMSH) emphasize the need to conserve water, minimize waste and promote alternative technologies as well as encourage community involvement to increase water-use efficiency by 20 percent by 2017. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) prepared in 2017 a policy paper, ‘Water Efficiency and Conservation in Urban India’, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The 12th Five Year Plan has provisions to create a forum for gateways to water conservation (rainwater harvesting, recycling and reuse, water conservation devices), preparing comprehensive water audit plans to offer cost-effective water efficient technologies. In addition, the 14th Finance Commission and schemes such as Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart city provide for the possibility to seek funds for planned interventions. However, while these provisions recognize the need for conserving and using water efficiently, little has been done to mainstream WEC.

Planning WEC helps identify priority interventions; current water–supply gap, intended water use and quality and quantity required are accounted for Managing demand through conservation and increase in water-use efficiency contributes to less water use for the same human benefit. WEC can also increase water supply by recycling water, minimizing leakage during conveyance and creating water-efficient landscaping. The quantity of water used varies significantly as also design and management efficiencies at various scales of plan and implementation; this leads to non-uniform scope for improvement inefficiency.

This guide is an attempt to mainstream water efficiency and conservation from policy to practice. Its the matic areas include in situ water augmentation, water efficiency and behavioural changes, with new interventions introduced and effectiveness of measures that can be implemented on different scales detailed. Its purpose is to provide guidance with regard to practising WEC for effective planning of water-secure cities.

The guide is meant to assist practitioners in the water sector to plan and implement projects at the city scale and smaller scales. It describes the process of WEC planning, with a comprehensive list of tools and techniques to initiate and implement WEC plans, programmes and practice. It shows how WEC can be strategized by looking into gaps in existing policies, plans and guidelines in India, and suggests the most suitable ways forward.