Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunita Narain: Reinventing water-waste for Indian cities

Sunita Narain: Reinventing water-waste for Indian cities: "
India is growing rapidly in its cities. Cities require water and sanitation and while the government estimates that as much as 80 per cent of urban Indians have access to safe drinking water and 64 per cent to sanitation facilities, these numbers hide more than they tell. Shortages of drinking water cripple cities. The quality of water supplied is increasingly a problem. The fact is that the pollution of rivers and other water systems puts pressure on public water utilities to increase treatment costs. Groundwater levels are declining precipitously in urban areas as people bore deeper in search of the water that municipalities cannot supply. In all this, the waste generated by cities is not treated and adds to the burden of contamination of water bodies. Cities today have no option but to source water from further and further away. This then increases the cost of treatment and delivery of water. It also leads to inefficiencies in supply, with distribution losses estimated to be in the order of 30-50 per cent in almost all cities of the country. In other words, there is less water to supply and there is less water for which full costs have to be recovered. (snip)

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