Effective Water Management Must For Smart Cities
It is the same every year. As the summer temperature soars, the water crisis emerges in almost all parts of the country or if there is heavy rainfall, the cities flood. No city has been yet been smart to offer an effective water management system. But, the upcoming smart cities can be a model for other cities from which they can take a clue and develop themselves accordingly. The issue of concern at present is that water management in these cities is limited to treatment of wastewater, quality monitoring and transforming wastewater treatment plants into resource recovery facilities, which includes generation of energy and designing of the drainage network. But, there is no planning on the development of new catchment areas or recovering the old water reservoirs.
Expressing his concern Mukund Patel, managing director, Rutu Group says, “Smart cities can only be truly termed smart when they prudently maximise the readily available renewable sources through the combination of innovation and social responsibility. Water management and rainwater harvesting are of prime importance. It is, therefore, essential to expedite the process of assimilating water conservation measures in every possible avenue to do all we can to retain, recycle and reuse water.”
What is the need?
Water is one of the earth's most precious resources. According to the United Nations, one in four children worldwide will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040. Moreover, water stress is directly related to areas with high demand, such as those experiencing rapid, unchecked urbanisation; or those that are naturally water scarce. Over the next two decades, more than 300 million people in India are expected to migrate to cities. Atul Goel, managing director, Goel Ganga Developers (I) Pvt Ltd, says, “Looking at the population in Pune and the heavy influx of people from all over India for various educational and job opportunities is putting up a lot of pressure on civic authorities to supply for basic amenities like clean water and sanitation. When we say next world war will be fought on water, we are yet to get any clue from it and not doing our homework on conserving water. This is not a city-centric issue but a national one.”
In Maharashtra water woes reached crisis proportions as it faced its worst drought ever. Several other states are struggling with droughts, depleting groundwater, loss of water from leaks and insufficient water-recycling facilities. Jaimin Desai, head, design & sustainability, Mahindra Lifespaces says, “In India, recent assessments estimate that more than one-sixth of the country's groundwater supply is currently overused. And yet, the fact that a significant proportion of the India of 2030 is yet to be built on the model of smart cities, it offers the opportunity to ensure water management initiatives are incorporated across the design, construction and management operations stages of buildings and developments. This is especially true in the case of planned urban agglomerations – be it greenfield development, or brownfield sites (which require a customised approach to water management).”
Implementation at planning stage
Experts are of the view that as India moves closer to its mission of smart and sustainable urban development, in-depth planning for water management will be the key to counter current rapid water depletion rates. Rainwater harvesting is a key component of this strategy. In simplified terms, it involves the collection of water from surfaces on which rain falls and subsequently storing this water for use at a later date. Dharmesh Jain, chairman and managing director, Nirmal Lifestyle says, “The significant demographic shift makes it critical for urban planners and developers, alike to integrate solutions for smart city planning, sustainable energy, as well as water and waste management. Of these, water identifies as the most critical of basic needs and therefore developers must focus their attention on integrating comprehensive water solutions at the conceptualization stage. Even the government should encourage and incentivize developers across the country to ensure water management is implemented rigorously.”
Moreover, there should be clear planning on how smart cities are to be linked with their water catchments to ensure sustainable provision of water. More clarity is also needed on wastewater treatment, both domestic and industrial. Parveen Jain, president NAREDCO and CMD Tulip Infratech is of the view that, “ For smart cities or any other area, water management should be impeccable so that there is no floods or water logging due to heavy rains and rainwater should be harvested so that it can be reused and recycled for various other purposes. Also, proper drainage system should be a part of the infrastructure so that water goes down into the ground and proper water table can be maintained.”
Adding to this, Sanjay Shenoy, joint managing director, Legacy Global Projects says, “Utilising the terrace as a catchment area (rooftop harvesting), and putting in place filters and water treatment plants result in an increase in the water supply ensuring that our residents receive water without an extra burden to the underground water table. There will result in less flooding of the roads and low-lying areas, which also acts for the benefit of the residents.”
Also, some of the successful techniques like the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) can be pre-installed in the real estate projects which would act as an additional water source that takes care of the landscaping needs. Not only does this ensure that the existing clean water sources are left unpolluted, but the projects turn out greener and our water tables are left with a little more health. Rohit Poddar, managing director, Poddar Housing and Development says, “ We will have a chronic shortage of water in the next 20 years. It is important to recycle the water irrespective of the size of the plot. It is necessary to have a sewage and water treatment plants, water needs to be recycled in the flushes, gardens. Nowadays, potable water can be produced through these treatment plants. Water Management should not only be restricted to smart cities.”