Pune: Do you often complain that the water supply to your area is too less? If yes, you would be surprised to know that barring a few fringe areas of the city, most water ‘auditors’ concur that housing societies in Pune receive an average of 150 litres a day per person. If you are living in traditional Pune i.e. Peth areas, it could be upto 350 litres per day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) mandates only 135 litres per day.
The excess water is literally going down the drain. Water audit firms across the city say that while there is a dire need of water conservation, nearly 20 to 30 percent of the water supplied is wasted in losses owing to leaking pipes, malfunctioning of water faucets and accidental water spillages.
Water auditor A K Jindal who has conducted an audit of over 50 housing societies said, “In the residential complexes that use borewell, an average of 20 to 30 percent loss of water is because of poor maintenance of water supply systems like old and leaky pipes and leaking household taps. In six out of every ten residential complexes surveyed, we found that members don’t check even annually for pipe leakages, taps installed in homes were of poor quality and leaking and even water drawing motor capacity of motor was not maintained leading to more losses and lesser water re-aching water tanks,” said Jindal.
While there is a need of rain water harvesting (RWH) in residential complexes, the same is for industries as well. The peripheral areas of the city have industrial belts with heavy water demand. “Out of the total water demand, 40 to 50 percent accounts for industrial water losses out of which 15 percent of the losses are unavoidable but the rest are avoidable,” said Ambadas Devkar, a well-known industrial water auditor in that belt. He added that to make up for unavoidable losses, rain water harvesting is a good option. It can conserve water that can compensate for flushing, gardening and other basic demands.
However some auditors found that even in societies where rain water harvesting systems were installed for water conservation, both for domestic and industrial sectors, the water audits clearly showed that non-maintenance and poor implementation was leading to under utilisation of RWH systems.
“Even in those societies where RWH systems were installed, on an average 70 percent of the systems are not maintained. It’s because for nearly seven months in a year, the systems are not used at all. During those months, it can result in clogging of pipes or leakages that developed with wear and tear or over time and sometimes the filters get clogged. These problems leads to leakage of rain water collected or sometimes it makes the water too hard for use. That’s why it’s not enough to merely employ RWH systems, it needs to be maintained,” said Prasad Pawar, director of a city based environmental consultancy that conducts yearly water audits of residential complexes.
Experts said on an average, about 15% of rain water is tapped through systems like RWH while wastage accounts for 30% percent of the total water supplied. There is an unbalance in water conservation and water usage.
Retd Colonel Shashikant Dalvi, an expert in rain water harvesting systems said that it doesn’t take much to maintain a RWH system. “The maintenance of the system does not require more than a thousand rupees for cleaning. The maintenance becomes nil after a few years if it is done from the first year of installation itself,” he said.