CONSERVE: DIGITAL MODEL TO INFORM WATER SECURE CITIES

  • Treated wastewater- resource of the future
  • Consultation workshop with ULB and state-level stakeholders in Jaipur
  • Understanding the mandate of Jal Shakti Abhiyan in Jaipur
  • Feasibility assessment of project pilot in Varanasi
Context

India has second largest population in the world but to cater to the water needs of this humongous population it possesses just 4% of the world’s fresh water resources. Over the years, water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase it a faster rate. The situation of groundwater is also alarming, as according to a report by NITI Aayog published in the year 2018, a total of 21 major cities are poised to run out of groundwater by 2020.

The city authorities are expected to distribute clean, pressurized and reliable water to their residents’ taps on daily basis. However, with increasing urbanization and population authorities are struggling to meet citizens’ demands. While Indian economy is amongst the fastest growing in the world, major portion of citizens is still living without access to safe water.

The current water crisis, however can be attributed to poor management than to a real crisis of scarcity and stress. The present scenario of water distribution and management in cities does not integrate the aspects of sewage management, demand management, and storm water management. The gaps thus created result in great socio-economic impact and take a toll on the quality of life and productivity of the citizens. The governance of the utility managers plays a crucial role in reforming the water sector. Therefore, a pragmatic shift in the approach of authorities and regulatory institutions for planning and management of water resources is required.

Problem Statement

Cities are water stressed primarily due to increasing population and varying climatic conditions. This creates uncertain scenarios for demand and availability of water resulting in improper planning and management of resources. To address these issues, there is need for a water balance model for the cities.

The water balance model aims to understand the city’s preparedness in meeting its current and future water demand in order to assess the situation of city’s water security. It also takes into account the impacts of climate change on water availability and demand.

Objective

The aim of the project is to aid smart cities to achieve water security, with water conservation being at the heart of the solution. The tool has thus been titled as ‘Conserve’ which will act as a decision support system for the water utility regulators, civic authorities, and other stakeholders at the ULB level.

It creates a database of the city’s water resources having key parameters like water availability, demand, supply, consumption, NRW, wastewater, rainfall and, groundwater. Other parameters that dominate the water usage like increasing population, land use, and climate change are also incorporated. This task has been carried out by developing a statistical model to calculate the aggregate water availability from all the sources; and its demand and use in the various sectors. The tool will generate scenarios that will be canvases to test hypotheses, data and assumptions about future urban demand and potential response strategies.

These outputs of the tool will help the authorities to take informed decisions for planning their water resources and managing them sustainably. They will be at the granular level of a water supply zone in the city which would help the authorities to take precise decisions. The water needs can be assessed by the authorities that would be arising in the future years from different sectors like domestic, industrial, institutional, commercial, transportation, etc. of a city. Also, it may act as a transparent platform for citizens to monitor the distribution of their water resources.

Project Developement

Project development can be classified into two major stages-

Pilot City Identification

Jaipur was identified as the pilot city for the project because of its merit against the following factors:-

  • Magnitude of problem- Jaipur, due to its geographic location, faces the lack of water in summers, and this situation is expected to worsen in the future as the impact of climate change amplifies. A high likelihood of extreme climate events like droughts and urban flooding are predicted in the region. Thus it proved to be an ideal playground to test out idea.
  • Data availability- Jaipur possesses data sets pertaining to water supply and consumption, surface and ground water assessments, water quality, sewage treatment, water supply system and geographic information system (GIS). These data sets are prerequisites to tool and are generally not available as a whole in other cities. Therefore, for the initial success of the project, Jaipur seemed to be a favorable choice.
  • Projected growth of the city- Jaipur, being the administrative and economic capital of Rajasthan is expected to grow at a much faster rate. This will lead to increased migration and therefore increased resource consumption. This provided a challenging premise to develop a water security strategy for the city.
  • Scale of the city- Owing to technical and time limitations, it was decided to develop the product in a relatively mid-sized city among all the smart cities. This resulted in the timely flow of data and facilitated the dialogue among stakeholders.

Project Implementation

Expected Outcomes

The project was expected to create a digital system that would inform cities how to achieve water security by: -

  • Creating a single integrated system for decision making by bringing multiple stakeholders onboard and transforming their data to create congruent data sets.
  • Assessing the city’s capability in meeting its water demand by generating the availability vs. demand vs. supply vs. consumption scenario.
  • Identifying the gaps in the water supply and management system and thus, proposing curated corrective actions on a micro-level.
  • Predicting the demand and availability scenarios for future in the wake of rapid urbanization and climate change.
  • Promoting the role of wastewater as a potential source in the future by enabling city to identify wastewater users and supply them in an economic manner.
Actual Result

The resultant of this one-year exercise is the decision support tool called Conserve. It is a GIS based digital platform which provides quick technical support to the decision makers and civic authorities to better manage their water in the city.

Various datasets have been refined and fed into the statistical model of the tool, and the results have been combined with the GIS data to provide actionable insights in a visually interactive dashboard. This dashboard contains six modules, each providing information and insights on different resource or scale. These six modules are as follows:

  1. City Water Balance- Snapshot of aggregate water supply in the city. It also highlights the availability vs. supply vs. consumption scenario and water supply zone wise consumption.
  2. Water Balance- Zone Level Analysis- Granular information about each water supply zone in the city. It also provides insights based on historical data and helps identify patterns in growth of demand, increase of demand-consumption gap, and nature of water consumption.
  3. Groundwater Level Fluctuations- Detailed information of groundwater level fluctuations. It also provides information about the state of fluctuation of each groundwater monitoring well in the city since 2011.
  4. Resource Exploitation- State of exploitation of surface water and groundwater in the city. It gives users the information pertaining to the exploitation of their surface and groundwater resources.
  5. Areas of Action- Identifies areas requiring immediate attention of city/utility managers. Vital stats like extent and growth of demand-consumption gap, no. of people being served by one water connection, and groundwater fluctuations inform users about the performance of a zone and help them design corrective actions, in a timely manner.
  6. Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting- Calculates the rooftop rainwater harvesting potential of buildings in the city, categorised on the basis of water supply zone and building use. It informs users about how much of the demand-consumption deficit can be fulfilled by this potential. The interactive map also allows the users to calculate rooftop rainwater harvesting potential for every single building of their choice.
Conclusion

Cities need to be capable and self-reliant in catering to their water demand arising from domestic, industrial, commercial and other ancillary activities and must strive to achieve water security. The tool Conserve is designed to be an integrated set of components which collects meaningful and actionable data of water resources in a city and generate scenarios for data-driven corrective actions. The mechanism developed to create this tool can be replicated by other cities for building their own local versions. This tool will enable utility providers and urban local bodies to create water management plans of their cities. Additionally, the tool promotes the use of rooftop rainwater hasvesting and treated wastewater by equipping the city to locate its potential users and connecting them to nearest plausible wastewater source in an economic manner.

The smart cities adopting this tool can act as examples for other cities by promulgating the need of a comprehensive digital platform for data-driven decision making to achieve water security.