Regional Workshop on ‘Energy and Resource Efficiency in Urban Water Management’ in Puducherry on August 12, 2013
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) organized a one day regional workshop on ‘Energy and Resource Efficiency in Urban Water Management’ on August 12, 2013 at the Hotel Ananda Inn, Puducherry. This workshop was supported by the Town & Country Planning Department, Government of Puducherry – as the local partner state. The workshop is part of various activities supported by Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission - Comprehensive Capacity Building Programme (JnNURM – CCBP), Ministry of Urban Development and Government of India. The workshop was attended by officials from two target states – namely Puducherry and Tamilnadu.
Dr. S. Sundaravadivelu, Special Secretary, Housing and Town Planning, Government of Puducherry welcomed the participants representing key functionaries from Municipal Corporations, Public Health Departments, Water and Sanitation Boards, Ground Water Boards, Pollution Control Boards, Town and Country Planning, and local bodies of the Government of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. He stated that the workshop was highly relevant and topical given the fact that Puducherry has become a water stressed state from a water rich state in a span of ten years. He therefore encouraged participants to imbibe learning and channelize the lessons learnt towards the formulation of the forthcoming water policy for the state of Puducherry.
Other key participants included faculty and researchers from IIT- Mumbai, Pondicherry University; institutions (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)- Nagpur, Auroville Centre for Scientific Research, Institut Français de Pondichéry (IFP), Association for Promoting Sustainability in Campuses & Communities (APSCC), Alliance to Save Energy (ASE)- Bangalore, Environmental Engineers & Consultants Pvt. Ltd.- Delhi, and NGOs (HOPE, Sembadugai Nanneeragam) involved in the advocacy of sustainable urban water and wastewater management in target states.
Dr. Suresh Rohilla, CSE delivered the theme presentation on the workshop background and presented an overview of water/wastewater management in the NURM. He stated that although the objective of Phase I was to make cities more vibrant and livable, however about 73% of the projects undertaken were still under implementation due to lack of adequate capacities of ULBs. He further underlined the importance of linkage between water and energy as being the key object for the upcoming NURM phase II. He set the tone of the workshop by laying out the objectives of the regional workshop as follows:
To generate awareness about the best management practices (BMPs), state of the art knowledge and reforms in the area of energy and resources efficiency.
To discuss with key stakeholders the concept, issues/barriers and experiences in mainstreaming of BMPs/NURM reforms in the sustainable water management area.
To explore capacity building support required to implement projects aimed at mainstreaming BMPs and reforms in the NURM schemes.
The Chief Guest of the programme, Mr. P. R. Meena, Secretary, Public Works Department, Government of Puducherry presented a policy overview for energy and resource efficiency in urban water management in Puducherry. He stated that the water and power tariff in Puducherry are one of the lowest in India, however, any increase in these tariffs has generated a lot of criticism and opposition. He stated that Puducherry has recently also introduced sewerage charges. He talked about two schemes, one comprehensive 15.5 MLD wastewater treatment scheme and the second 20 MLD water supply scheme in Yanam, to be constructed in Puducherry under the NURM proposal.
Other speakers at the workshop included many experts. Mr. Pradeep Kumar (ASE) talked about the Energy efficiency opportunities and challenges in water supply system. He highlighted the energy efficiency challenges in Indian cities and reasons for poor efficiency in water supply such as overdesigning of pumps. He stated that although the upcoming Puducherry water policy has good linkages with the NURM objectives, the connection to energy efficiency are lacking. Prof. H. S. Shankar (IIT- Mumbai) gave a presentation on the use of soil biotechnology (SBT) for waste-water treatment. He stated that process of treating wastewater in soil environment is a highly energy efficient process while in water environment it is high energy intensive, which is the fundamental for SBT. Dr. Rajesh Biniwale (NEERI) shared information on the Phytorid technology for treatment of urban wastewater which follows an ecosystem based approach. Mr. P.Z. Thomas (Environmental Engineers & Consultants Pvt. Ltd.) talked about mandatory water –energy conservation guidelines of MOEF for building and construction projects targeting 30% savings and ensuring a low water impact urban development.
There were two panel sessions that dealt with operational challenges and strategies for mainstreaming reforms/ BMPS in NURM projects. The first panel ‘Mainstreaming Energy & Resource efficiency in sustainable urban water management was chaired by Dr. Rohilla, CSE. The need to develop water resources sustainably to produce a better quality of life was stressed upon. The conjunctive use of both surface and ground water and non-dependence of a single source for water supply was emphasized upon. The second panel on ‘Mainstreaming Energy & Resource efficiency in sustainable urban wastewater management’ was chaired by Mr. Lalit Kishor Bhati, Auroville. The issue of water contamination and quality, and need for alternative technologies/ methods for treating municipal waste was highlighted.
The workshop concluded with a brief ‘Way forward’ session which was presided by Dr. Rohilla, CSE and Mr. Raghunathan, Chief Town Planner, Puducherry. It was noted that idea of the workshop was to expose participants to new ideas that would enable sustainable water supply/ wastewater treatment in urban areas. It was agreed upon that energy and resource efficiency will definitely lead to reduction in the cost for utilities to supply water and treat wastewater; and consequently these aspects need to be urgently incorporated by the ULBs in the planning and implementation of the future DPRs. The need for comprehensive training on the new innovative resource/ energy efficient technological options for capacity building of the relevant government officials was highlighted.