World Water Day – Time to be Water Wise

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As a resource that is depleting faster than you think, water is something that must be a focus area that needs the highest priority.

This year’s theme for World Water Day on March 22 is Water and Climate Change – two aspects that are inextricably linked. In a country like India, there are several people who spend hours searching for a bucket of clean water. Also last year when the Chennai water crisis hit, the acute need to conserve the resource was highlighted. Also remember the crisis is Shimla when the hill town had to turn back tourists as there was no water? A recent NITI Ayog report suggests that by 2020 at least 21 major cities including Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore are predicted to completely exhaust their groundwater supplies which. Hence the time to act is now as this is an impending crisis and each person needs to work towards the cause. Fortunately, there is hope with several initiatives both at a community level and at an individual level that can give water the importance it needs. We look at two such projects that are making this change.

Water ATM

While the term ATM has an immediate association with money, there are now water ATMs that are helping people in remote rural areas to access clean drinking water. Piramal Sarvajal a social enterprise provides safe and clean drinking water for the under-served areas in India. Sarvajal has developed technologies and business practices in the safe drinking water space. These are across 20 states in India and have helped over 6.5 lakh people through 1650 plus touch points. Case in point is a small village of Gohana in Rajasthan where water is scarce and the well situated at one end of the village is the only source of water. The close to two-kilometer distance that women had to cover for two to three pots of water on their heads was both long and arduous. Piramal Sarvajal has helped such villages develop water ATMs in the village and have helped the women and houses provide clean, affordable water which is now easily accessible. With the initiative, the village also saw men filling water pots at the ATMs thus lending a helping hand due to easy accessibility perhaps trying to be more tech savvy with ATM cards. This role of fetching-water-home behaviour displayed by men has given the women a break from bringing water home, a gender bender of sorts. Piramal Foundation (Sarvajal) has also signed a statement of intent with NITI Aayog to facilitate successful implementation of Government led Schemes like Swajal and Jal Shakti Abhiyan. Anuj Sharma, CEO, Piramal Sarvajal says, “we have also partnered on the Jal Shakti Abhiyan by organizing orientation workshops, facilitating district action plans, mobilizing people participation, conducting exposure visits and conceiving, planning and executing IEC drives.”

Smarterhomes
Smarterhomes

Measuring Water Usage

A key step in saving water is to know how much you use. And the best way is to measure it. And this is exactly what Bengaluru based Smarterhomes, a smart water metering company does. Working towards saving water by bringing in behavioural changes among residents of apartment communities, they have installed 85,000+ metering units across India. Designed specifically for his rise buildings, the meter allows each individual household to keep track of its water usage and reduce wastage and secondly it helps beat the standard practice of collecting a common flat rate from all houses as water bill irrespective of usage. When people are aware of the amount of water they consume and have to pay for what they use, there is an immediate behavioural change to bring down the water consumption. ‘WaterOn’ is installed at each water inlet in an apartment. Vivek Shukla, CEO and Co-Founder, Smarterhomes Technologies explains, “WaterOns use positive displacement technology that makes them not only accurate even for very small quantities but also retains accuracy for a very long time as compared to conventional jet type water meters. It can be installed in any orientation, horizontal, vertical, at an angle or even upside down making them friendly for tough to install locations. The meters are connected with each other ensuring real time, loss free transmission of data to the cloud application.”  The connected meters send consumption data in real time to the central analytical and billing engine. The platform is accessible online and an app on the smartphone shows both water consumption and any abnormal consumption where an alert can be sent. The time to act against water wastage and conservation is now after all water is the elixir of life.

This story first appeared in Sakal Times dated March 22, 2020 here:

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