Bengaluru water crisis: Individual meters, rainwater-harvesting to be mandatory by 2020

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Bengaluru water crisis: Individual meters, rainwater-harvesting to be mandatory by 2020

In order to prevent water wastage and reward conscious users, the Karnataka government will soon introduce a law that will make it mandatory for all new and existing buildings in Bengaluru to install water meters on their premises. This law, when implemented, will be applicable to every apartment in a building. 

These water meters will be used to charge individual water usage as per their consumption instead of the current practise where the whole building is billed for the entire water consumption and residents pay uniformly. 

“All buildings having a built-up area of more than 2,500 sq feet or having more than three apartments will come under this law,” IAS officer Tushar Girinath, Chairman of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, told TNM. He confirmed that the law will apply retrospectively to older buildings as well and will come into effect from 2020.

Welcoming the move, Odette Katrak, co-founder of Beautiful Bengaluru, which advocates sustainable measures in the city, said, “As there is only a small fraction of people who care for the planet, these changes happen only if it pinches them. The same has been observed when implementing the plastic ban. People had gradually started bringing their own bags when they had to repeatedly pay for the reusable bags at stores.”

This proposed legislation was made public by Girinath as he was speaking at the 26th edition of the Indian Plumbing Association’s annual conference held in the city over the weekend. This year’s event was focussed on water conservation.

In addition to the water meters, it will be mandatory for all new buildings being built on a 60x40 ft site to have a rainwater harvesting facility with a capacity of 60 litres, instead of the current minimum capacity of 20 litres. As part of the same legislator, a dual piping system will also be mandatory for such buildings.

Read: 80,000 buildings in Bengaluru don't have rainwater harvesting systems: BWSSB survey 

This announcement comes at a time when Bengaluru is facing a water crisis with many parts of the city relying on private water tankers. Over the years, overexploitation of groundwater has left the borewells dry and the deteriorating conditions of lakes have only worsened the situation.

Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan, who was also part of the event, said, “Conservation of water has become the highest priority across the world as the availability of freshwater is hardly 3-4%. The government of Karnataka is well aware of the water situation in Bengaluru and we are working towards putting the best possible system in place in the next two to three years. We want to minimise pilferage and wastage of water below 15%.” 

At present, 36% of Bengaluru’s water, which is drawn from the Cauvery, is unaccounted for. While 25% is wasted in leakages, another 11% is suspected to be used without being billed.

“We want to maintain the highest standards with regard to supply and discharge of water.  I urge all constituencies in Bengaluru and Karnataka to give the highest priority to water conservation,” he added.

Earlier, voluntary efforts by individual apartments in Bengaluru have shown positive results in lowering water usage. 

Two case studies carried out by a private water metre company, which provides app-based water conservation solution, showed monthly savings of more than 1,000 kilolitres of water when metres were installed in apartment complexes having more than 156 and 256 apartments each. 

Read: Is a combination of recycling and harvesting an answer to water crisis in Indian cities?