WATER-ELIXIR OF LIFE
The thirst of water for India’s rapid development is growing day by day. In spite of adequate average
rainfall in India, there is large area under the less water conditions/drought prone. There are lot of
places, where the quality of groundwater is not good. Another issue lies in interstate distribution of
rivers. Water supply of the 90% of India’s territory is served by inter-state rivers. It has created
growing number of conflicts across the states and to the whole country on water sharing issues.
Some of the major reasons behind water scarcity are;
Population growth and Food production (Agriculture)
Increasing construction/ infrastructure development Activities
Massive urbanization and industrialization throughout the country
Climatic change and variability- Depleting of natural resources due to changing climate
conditions (Deforestation etc.)
Lack of implementation of effective water management systems
Why should India address water scarcity?
India’s population is expected to increase from 1.13 Bn in 2005 to 1.66 Bn by 2050. Out of that the
urban population is expected to grow from 29.2% of the total population in 2007 to 55.2% by 2050.
First and foremost result of the increasing population is the growing demand for more food-grains
and allied agricultural produce. It results in expanding area of land under the crops especially high
yielding crop varieties. It is estimated that the production of water-intensive crops is expected to
grow by 80% between 2000 and 2050. For example Rice, wheat and sugarcane together constitute
about 90% of India’s crop production and are the most water-consuming crops. In addition, states
with the highest production of rice and/or wheat are expected to face groundwater depletion of up
to 75% by 2050.
Another area of concern is the water Intensive Industries. India’s economic growth has been
gargantuan in the last decade. Foreign direct investment equity inflow in the industrial sector has
grown to $17.68 Bn in 2007–2008. Steel and energy sector will need to keep pace in order to fulfil
the demands of sectors like manufacturing and production. Annual per capita consumption of power
is expected to reach its maximum level as compared to present installed power generation capacity.
As per the ministry of power, thermal power plants which are the most water-intensive industrial
units, constitute around 65% of the installed power capacity in India. Industrial water consumption
is expected to shoot up its growth between 2000 and 2050
Capital city: New Delhi
Population of 1.2 billion
97 million lack safe water
814 million have no sanitation services
Infant mortality rate of 5%
30% live in poverty
All of this will result in increased consumption of water. That is why there is urgent requirement to
address the issue of water scarcity in India to make better policy decisions which will affect its
availability in future. . If the conditions remain same; water will turn out to be the world’s most
precious resource soon.
While drilling a well can be easy, delivering water and sanitation solutions that are sustainable in the
long haul is not and involves a number of important components. So,here we are proposing an ACT
to provide clean drinking water.
SAFE DINKING WATER ACT
Land should be divided on the basis of water-use.
Local threats and drought prone areas should be identified.
Considering the terrain, climatic conditions etc. a suitable water
conservation programme and rain water harvesting programme should be
A CORE GROUP HAS TO BE MADE, WHICH CONSISTS OF REPRESENTATIVES FROM:
The core group should study land units that come under its jurisdiction and
submit a report based on the study, within a span of 6 months.
The plan should be uploaded in the MINISTY OF FOREST & NATURAL
RESOURCES where it is open to public scrutiny. The public should be given
opportunity to provide their feedback before the ACT is proposed and passed.
SUBSIDIES FOR RAINWATER HARVESTING PROJECTS
PROMOTION OF GREEN ENGINEERINGERING
REDUCING PRESSURE ON THE WATER TABLE
BARRING USE OF MULTIPLE WATER METERS
SANITATION –AN OVERVIEW
Most Indian’s still do not have access to modern sanitation: for example, rural sanitation coverage
was estimated to have reached only 21% by 2008 according to the UNICEF/WHO joint monitoring
It is estimated that:
• Only 31 per cent of India’s population use improved sanitation (2008)
• In rural India 21 per cent use improved sanitation facilities (2008)
• One Hundred Forty Five million people in rural India gained access to improved sanitation
• Two hundred and Eleven Million people gained access to improved sanitation in whole of India
• India is home to 638 million people defecating in the open; over 50 per cent of the population.
• In Bangladesh and Brazil, only seven per cent of the population defecate in the open. In China,
only four per cent of the population defecate in the open.
Good hygiene practices and access to sanitation facilities are critical to achieving sustainable
improvements in community health. Clean water may be available in a household, but if hand-
washing and other practices are not routinely followed, the promised health benefits will not
materialize. Similarly, access to a latrine does not ensure that the latrine will be used or properly
Without a good understanding of the link between hygiene and disease, the health benefits of safe
water and sanitation can be easily lost. Our schemes link common illnesses (such as diarrhea) with
proper hygiene (such as hand-washing before eating or preparing food). Linking sanitation with
common health concerns increases community commitment and involvement.
HERE WE ARE POPOSING TWO PROPER SANITATION SCHEMES:
What is ECOSAN?
Ecological Sanitation (ECOSAN) is an environment friendly sustainable sanitation system which
regards human waste as resource for agricultural purposes and food security. In contrast to the
common practice of linear waste management which views waste or excreta as something that
needs to be disposed, ECOSAN seeks to close the loop of nutrients cycle, conserve water and our
The basic principle of ECOSAN is to close the loop between sanitation and agriculture without
compromising health and is based on the following three fundamental principles:
a. Preventing pollution rather than attempting to control it after we pollute
b. Sanitizing the urine and faeces
c. Using the safe products for agricultural purposes
Basic principles of ECOSAN Latrine:
Offers a safe sanitation solution that prevents disease and promotes health by successfully
and hygienically removing pathogen-rich excreta from the immediate environment.
Environmentally sound as it doesn’t contaminate groundwater or save scarce water
resources. Recovers and recycles the nutrients from the excreta and thus creates a valuable resource
to reduce the need for artificial fertilizers in agriculture from what is usually regarded as a waste
Inadequacy of current options
The sanitation practices promoted today are either based on hiding human excreta in deep pits
(‘drop-and-store’) or on flushing them away and diluting them in rivers, lakes and the sea (‘flush-and
discharge’).Drop-and-store systems can be simple and relatively low-cost but have many drawbacks.
The problems people normally face from the conventional sanitation system are:
o They are not working properly at all And do not ensure safe and healthy sanitation
but increase health risks from severe water pollution due to On Site Sanitation
o No recycling of water and nutrients leading to Loss of valuable nutrients for
o Are largely linear end-of-pipe technology systems.
Merits of ECOSAN
Ironically, more water is being wasted for flushing toilets than its use for drinking. Conventional
sanitation facility is intricate in terms of commission and operation. It harbours many loopholes. It
adds more wastewater than manageable. Rivers and ponds now are merely open sewer for most
period of the year. Therefore, there is a need to revive the concept of ECOSAN so as to fully recognize
and utilize the value of excreta. The demand of ECOSAN latrines, based on the literatures, can be said
to be fuelled by:
o Declining fertility of land
o Increased cost of artificial fertilizer, and related poverty
o High number of subsistence farmers in the urban and peri-urban areas
o Minimum usage of water
Possibilities of ground water contamination reduced
Besides, ECOSAN latrine, a hygienic sanitation option, prevents pollution, fights infections,
saves water, promotes zero waste management and encourages food production. In
addition, it helps:
o Promotion of recycling
o Conservation of resources and contribution to the preservation of soil
o Improvement of agricultural productivity and hence contributes to food security
o Increasing user comfort/security, in particular for women and
o Cyclic Material-flow instead of disposal.
o ECOSAN stands for turning waste into a useful and marketable resource
Dealing with liquids
A basic question when designing an ECOSAN system is whether to divert urine or to mix urine and
faeces in a single receptacle. If the latter approach is used, effective processing will, with few
exceptions, require later separation of liquids and solids. Thus we start with two basic options: divert
urine; or mix urine and faeces.
Diverting urine: There are a number of good reasons for not mixing urine and faeces:
o it keeps the volume of potentially dangerous material small;
o the urine remains relatively free from pathogenic organisms;
o urine and faeces require different treatments;
o it simplifies pathogen destruction in faeces;
o it reduces odour;
o it prevents excess humidity in the processing vault; and
o the uncontaminated urine is an excellent fertilizer.
Urine diversion requires a specially designed seat-riser or squatting slab or pan that is functionally
reliable and socially acceptable. The basic idea of how to avoid mixing urine and faeces is simple: the
toilet user should sit or squat over some kind of dividing wall so that faeces drop behind the wall and
urine passes in front of the wall.In recent years several factories have started producing squatting
pans as well as seat-risers with urine diversion. The faeces drop down into either a composting or a
dehydrating chamber. Once collected the urine can either be used directly in the garden, infiltrated
into an evapotranspiration bed, or stored on site for later collection either as liquid fertilizer or
further processed into a dry powder fertilizer
Mixing urine and faeces
Systems based on liquid separation do not require a special design of the seat-riser or squatting
plate. Urine, faeces, and in some systems a small amount of water, go down the same hole. Another
possibility is to drain the liquid from the processing chamber through a net or a perforated floor as in
the example below. One of the main points that must be considered in liquid separation systems is
that, as the liquids have been in contact with faeces, they must be evaporated, sterilized or
otherwise treated before they can be recycled as fertilizer. In rural, basic toilets in warm and dry
climate it is possible to process liquids and solids together. Urine and faeces go down the same hole.
Dry soil or a mixture of soil and ash are added to the urine-faeces mix in the pit. Biological activity, in
the combination of excreta and added soil, results in a useful soil conditioner and fertilizer over time.
Since some of the liquids percolate into the soil, these types are not suited to areas with a high
Types of latrines considered under ECOSAN
Urine Diversion (UD) Latrines:
Wet ECOSAN (Urine Diversion) Latrines
Dry ECOSAN (Dehydration) Latrines
Major difference between UD toilet and other types is that a UD toilet has two outlets and 2
collection systems: one for urine and other for faeces in order to keep excreta fractions separate
UD Dehydration (Dry ECOSAN) latrines:
o The faeces / excreta are collected in a dry state in a chamber below the toilet (or
squatting hole) and excreta in-side the processing vault are dried with the help of
sun, natural evaporation and ventilation.
o Moisture content below 25% facilitates rapid pathogen destruction.
o No flush water is used at all. They use simple system to drain off the urine to a
storage container. Once the chamber is almost full, the content need to be removed,
further stored, used as a soil conditioner, buried or composted either in home or in
o The product from UDD toilet is not compost but rich in carbon and fibrous material,
phosphorous and potassium.
Wet ECOSAN (twin pit pour flush)
A Wet ECOSAN latrine separates urine and faeces but water is used for flushing the faeces and the
faeces is sent along with the anal cleansing and flush water. The main benefits of this type of ECOSAN
is that using the toilet is easier as water can be used for flushing which is a common practice in
Nepal, and a separate location for anal cleaning is not required. Furthermore, as it is not much
different from the more common types of toilets and there is no need to handle faeces regularly, it
may be socially more acceptable than the dry ECOSAN. The main disadvantage is that it uses the
same amount of water as an ordinary toilet and utilizing the faeces can be difficult.
Use natural processes to produce compost from faeces (and co-substrates); basic principle is
the biological degradation of excreta and toilet paper in a specially designed containers and enhance
the process by the use of additives and adsorbents like carboniferous materials (such as sawdust,
straw, hay, shredded paper, kitchen waste, etc.) thus balancing carbon-nitrogen ratio; Cleansing
water (if used) can be discharged into the composting compartment (if excess liquid is drained away)
IMPLEMENTATION & CONSTRUCTION:
Preparatory stage of implementation
a. Raising awareness
b. Promotion of ECOSAN latrines
Socio-cultural aspects of ECOSAN
o Convenience and comfort
o Privacy and safety
o For women and girls, avoidance of sexual harassment and assault
o Less embarrassment with visitors
o Dignity and social status
Common problems and trouble shooting
Leakage of urine through the joint between pan and urine pipe: Urine leakage can be a problem in
an ECOSAN toilet. Masons must be careful during construction, specially casting of slab, to ensure
that the joint between pan and urine pipe is fitted properly. If such problem occurs, cement putting
can be applied at the urine hole.
Water enters into the faeces chamber during toilet cleaning: In the dry ECOSAN, the faeces vault
needs to be kept as dry as possible to assist in the dehydration of the faeces and accelerate the die-
off rate of pathogens in the faeces. However sometimes, water may enter the vault through the pan,
through the vault opening or seepage from the walls or ground. The following measures should be
taken to prevent water entering the vault:
The pan should be raised slightly (about 1cm) above the floor special care needs to be taken while
cleaning the toilet to avoid water from getting in the vault users, especially guests, should be
instructed not to put water in the vault. The vault opening should be tightly closed if water does get
into the faeces vault, some more ash or other dry materials should be put in the vault to assist in the
absorption of the water.
Smell of urine inside the toilet: When urine is collected, it is important to store it in such a way to
prevent odours and loss of nitrogen to the air. The loss on nitrogen to the air can be minimized by
storage in a covered container with restricted ventilation, however this can create odour problem
inside the toilet. Following measures should be taken to minimize the odour of smell inside the
toilet: The end of urine collection pipe should be inserted below the lowest level of urine collected
in the container. After each urination, small amount of water should be used.
What are Constructed wetlands?
Constructed wetlands are among the recently proven efficient technologies for wastewater
treatment. Compared to conventional treatment systems, constructed wetlands are low cost, are
easily operated and maintained, and have a strong potential for application in developing countries,
particularly by small rural communities. However, these systems have not found widespread use, due
to lack of awareness, and local expertise in developing the technology on a local basis.
Important natural resources have become severely threatened by poorly controlled wastewater
deposition by shoreline communities, agriculture and industry. The impact of this is as follows:
A twofold increase in algal productivity leading to decline in water transparency
Phytoplankton, particularly, the cyanobacteria (blue green algae), have dominated the
Phosphate concentration has doubled and is currently in excess of algal requirements.
About 50% of the lake bottom is anoxic.
Compared to conventional treatment systems, wetland technology is cheaper, more easily operated
and more efficient to maintain. Minimal fossil fuel is required and no chemicals are necessary. An
additional benefit gained by using wetlands for wastewater treatment is the multi-purpose
sustainable utilization of the facility for uses such as swamp fisheries, biomass production, seasonal
agriculture, water supply, public recreation, wild life conservation and scientific study .Being low-cost
and low-technology systems, wetlands are potential alternative or supplementary systems for
wastewater treatment in developing countries.
On the basis of the dominant plants, wetlands can be classified into three groups: salt and
freshwater swamps, marshes and bogs. Swamps are flooded areas dominated by water-tolerant
woody plants and trees, marshes are dominated by soft-stemmed plants and bogs are dominated by
mosses and acid-loving plants.
The functional role of natural wetlands in water quality improvements has offered a compelling
argument for wetland preservation. Although studies have shown that natural wetlands are able to
provide high levels of wastewater treatment ,there has been concern over (1) possible harmful
effects of toxic materials and pathogens in wastewaters; and (2) long-term degradation of
wetlands due to additional nutrient and hydraulic loadings from wastewater. Efforts have
therefore been made towards using constructed wetlands (CWs) for wastewater treatment.
Wetland systems reduce or remove contaminants including organic matter, inorganic matter, trace
organics and pathogens from the water. Reduction is said to be accomplished by diverse treatment
mechanisms including sedimentation, filtration, chemical precipitation and adsorption, microbial
interactions and uptake by vegetation .However, these mechanisms are complex and not yet entirely
understood. In recent years, a number of studies have aimed at understanding nutrient
accumulation, release and removal processes in wetlands. The role played by wetland plants
(macrophytes) in influencing the treatment processes in wetlands is well documented in this table
Table 3. Nutrient uptake capacities of a number of emergent, free-floating, and submerged
macrophytes (Brix, 1994)
[Uptake capabilities (kg ha−1yr−1)] Nitrogen
Cyperus papyrus 1100 50
Phragmites australis 2500 120
Typha latifolia 1000 180
Eichhornia crassipes 2400 350
Pistia stratiodes 900 40
Potamogeton pectinatus 500 40
Ceratophylum demersum 100 10
Microorganisms play a central role in biogeochemical transformation of nutrients and their capability
in removing toxic organic compounds added to wetlands has been reported .The results of a recent
study show that organic matter turn over and nutrient cycling appears to be strongly correlated with
electron acceptor availability and redox conditions in wetland soils.
CWs for wastewater treatment involve the use of engineered systems that are designed and
constructed to utilize natural processes. These systems are designed to mimic natural wetland
systems, utilizing wetland plants, soil, and associated microorganisms to remove contaminants from
wastewater effluents. Most CWs emulate marshes because soft-stemmed plants in the marshes
require the shortest time compared to plants in bogs and swamps for full development and
operational performance . In developed countries, CWs are used for treating various wastewater
types e.g. domestic wastewater, landfill leachate, urban storm-water, and for polishing advanced
treated wastewater effluents for return to freshwater resources
The extensive root system of the weed provides a large surface area for attached microorganisms
thus increasing the potential for decomposition of organic matter. Plant uptake is the major process
for nutrient removal from wastewater systems containing water hyacinth plants, and it is related to
nutrient loading to the system . Nitrogen is removed through plant uptake (with harvesting),
ammonia is removed through volatilization and nitrification/dentrification, and phosphorus is
removed through plant uptake. Treatment systems with water hyacinth are sufficiently developed to
be successfully applied in the tropics and sub-tropics where climatic conditions favor luxuriant and
continuous growth of the macrophyte for the whole year.
Water hyacinth wastewater treatment systems
This wastewater treatment systems produce large amounts of excess biomass given the rapid growth
rate of the plant. To sustain an effective treatment system, the management plan must include
provision for harvesting and use of the excess plant material. Integration of WH-systems for
wastewater treatment into methane/carbon dioxide production projects as means of using excess
water hyacinth biomass has proved successful. At a sewage loading of 440 kg ha−1 day−1 and a
hydraulic retention time of 3 days, the water hyacinth system removed 81% of BOD5 and 80% of
suspended solids. From a pond area of 0.75 ha, a biomass production of 68 mg ha−1 year−1 was
achieved. A methane yield of 0.47 m3 kg−1 VS added was obtained in the anaerobic digester
For water hyacinth wastewater treatment systems integrated with methane production or animal
feed production, optimization of productivity of water hyacinth has been shown to require frequent
harvesting to maintain moderate high plant densities. This practice is suitable for maximum removal
of phosphorus but not for maximum removal of nitrogen . Depending on the scale, the cost factor to
be involved in extra biomass harvesting must be considered.
Despite its enormous potential for large-scale wastewater treatment and biomass production, use of
the water hyacinth on full scale in developed countries has not been extensively pursued. One of the
reason may be poor performance in Northern Hemisphere winters given its optimum growing
temperature range between 20 and 30°C. Another likely reason is the economic feasibility of the
systems. The major cost for water hyacinth systems integrated with energy production are (1)
purchase of land and construction; (2) periodic harvesting; and (3) construction, operation and
maintenance of an anaerobic digestion system. Given these expenses, WH systems may not compete
well with the existing energy generating systems.
Although about a half of the world's wetland area (>450 million ha) is found in the tropics ,the rate of
adoption of wetlands technology for wastewater treatment in these regions has been slow.
Additionally, developed world ‘advisors’ may be entrenched in appropriate technologies for their
countries and are unable to transfer their conceptual thinking to the realities and cultures of the
third world. Thus, rather than assisting developing countries to develop their own constructed
wetland technologies, the tendency has been to translocate ‘northern’ designs to tropical
environments. Depending on the country's policy and financial situation, other reasons may hold.
The potential for application of wetland technology in the developing world is enormous. As
mentioned earlier, most of the developing countries have warm tropical and subtropical climates
that are conducive for higher biological activity and productivity, hence better performance of
wetland systems. Tropical and subtropical regions are known to sustain a rich diversity of biota that
may be used in wetlands. Although land may be a limiting factor in dense urban areas, constructed
wetlands are potentially well suited to smaller communities where municipal land surrounding
schools, hospitals, hotels and rural areas is not in short supply. This section looks at efforts made in
exploring this potential.
There is limited information on the level of development of wetland technology in developing
countries. It appears that in some countries, basic research is being carried out, while in others, the
technology has reached pilot and full scale levels for various applications. For convenience,
information on types of CWs, i.e. CWs with free floating and emergent macrophytes will be reviewed
These include large land requirements, lack of knowledge of tropical wetland ecology and native
wetland species, prevalence of mixed domestic/industrial wastewaters, and limited knowledge and
experience with CW design and management. Clearly, developing countries interested in
implementing this technology must identify specific research needs and develop appropriate
strategies based on local parameters. A clear understanding of the biological, hydraulic and chemical
processes involved is essential. For instance, information is limited concerning tropical plant species
suitable for sustainable CW development. Further investigations are needed to identify and
characterize tropical plant candidates in terms of their tolerance to high nutrient levels and suitability
in regional climatic conditions and wastewater types. Most importantly, careful economic analysis
must be conducted to determine whether CW treatment technology that is cost-effective,
environmentally sensitive, and technically reliable for a given project location can be feasibly
Despite their many advantages, CWs have limitations as a waste treatment technology, some of
which are of special concern to tropical developing countries. Assessing the feasibility of utilizing
sustainable wetland technologies in developing countries will require a coordinated multidisciplinary
approach involving environmental and social scientists, engineers and policymakers. It should be
remembered that CWs might not always be the best alternative low cost, effective wastewater
DRAWBACKS AND SOLUTIONS
Cost of development and maintenance. Important economic considerations include:
1.1.Suitable free-land availability: If land must be purchased, it will add up considerably to the capital
1.2.A relatively flat topography to minimize the construction costs.
1.3.Nature of soils: Need for relatively impermeable soils to protect groundwater, nonporous liner
may be installed at additional cost.
1.4.Operating and maintenance costs including harvesting of vegetation and nuisance control (e.g.
insect vectors, nuisance animal
Adequate water availability: Availability of water to maintain the required regime. This is particularly
important to and areas where evapotranspiration has been demonstrated to exceed total water
inflow during summer months for SF wetlands and caused operational problems. It is therefore
crucial that appropriate design models to predict wetland hydraulics be applied.
Selection and management of suitable macrophyte species: Appropriate choice of species adapted to
tropical environments is of great significance. In the tropics where growth rates are high, the
frequency and hence the cost of harvesting has to be considered. Use of very fast growing plants e.g.
the water hyacinth that requires frequent harvesting is not likely to be feasible. Economic utilization
of excess biomass and frequent harvesting costs should be well assessed before choosing such a
Ability to control disease vectors: Wetlands being wet for most of the time, are potential breeding
habitats for disease vectors. Mosquitoes which are vectors of malaria, filariasis and encephalitis and
snail vectors of schistosomiasis find very good habitats in wetlands. These diseases are endemic in
many parts of developing countries in the tropics and efforts to eradicate these diseases have proved
futile.Mosquito problems with free water surface flow constructed wetlands have been experienced
before. In order to avoid wetlands becoming public health risks by aggravating the existing condition
with malaria, mosquito control must be integrated in the design as well as the operation of a
wetland. The suggested steps based on previous studies ,1)strategic removal of marginal and floating
vegetation to provide open water areas to wind action and for easy access to mosquito larvae
predator fish such as Gambusia affinis; 2) introduction of nematodes parasitic to mosquitoes; 3)
application of low organic loading to avoid anaerobic conditions in the water column, and 4)
application of chemical agents that has no residual effect in the environment e.g. products of an
insect pathogen Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (B.t.i.).
WATER-BASIC RIGHT OF ALL HUMANS
Even with such advances, though, it seems unlikely that the above mentioned schemes alone will be
able to solve the world’s water and sanitary problems. Other approaches will be needed.
Yet another strategy for improving water availability and safety would be small decentralized
distillation units, an especially attractive approach in places where infrastructure and distribution
problems are severe. One of the main issues is economical distribution of water to rural and low-
income areas. Some current projects are striving to produce inexpensive distillation units that can
remove contaminants from any water source. A unit smaller than a dishwasher could provide daily
clean water for 100 people.
Such approaches will help to address the very real problem of inequitable distribution of water
resources. Even within a given country, clean, cheap water may be available to the rich while the
poor have to seek out supplies, at higher costs, from intermediary providers or unsafe natural
sources. Technological solutions to the world’s water problems must be implemented within systems
that recognize and address these inequities.
India’s Sanitation for All: How to Make It Happen
Providing environmentally safe sanitation to millions of people is a significant challenge. The task is
doubly difficult in a country where the introduction of new technologies can challenge people’s
traditions and beliefs.
This report examines the current state of sanitation services in India and offers
TWOrecommendations that can help key stakeholders work toward universal sanitation coverage in
India: scaling up pro-poor sanitation programs, customizing investments, exploring cost effective
options, applying proper planning and sequencing, adopting community-based solutions, and forging