2030 WRG Signs MOU with WBCSD for Private Sector-Driven Collaboration in Karnataka

In April 2018, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) signed an MOU with 2030 WRG to jointly promote private sector-driven collaboration to tackle the threat of industrial water insecurity in Karnataka.

Karnataka has one of the most dynamic economies in India. Not only is Karnataka the manufacturing hub for some of India’s largest public-sector industries, and it is also home to some of India’s most prestigious science and technology research centers. Notably, Bangalore, Karnataka’s capital, has earned the title of the Silicon Valley of India due to the concentration of information technology companies there. Although, Karnataka’s booming economy means better livelihoods for its population, a booming economy is also expected to aggravate the competition for scarce water resources among companies operating there.

The looming threat of industrial water insecurity is not lost on the private sector. In April 2018, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) signed an MOU with 2030 WRG to jointly promote private sector-driven collaboration to tackle this challenge through a combination of new programmatic approaches, partnership models, financing mechanisms, and policy interventions.

To kick off this joint venture, the WBCSD-2030 WRG team conducted multi-stakeholder meetings to identify some key objectives, including:

  • Improve adoption of circular water management approaches by industries
  • Increase data sharing and use
  • Develop benchmarks for efficient and sustainable industrial water use
  • Provide guidance for industrial water-use tracking and valuation of water
  • Develop synergies and cross-sectoral collaboration for wastewater reuse at the industry-urban, and industry-agriculture levels
  • Develop new programmatic approaches for Industrial wastewater management and common effluent treatment plants
  • Promote knowledge sharing and development of policy instruments for creating an enabling environment for water use and wastewater management in the state

Following the first multi-stakeholder workstream meeting on this topic in Karnataka on May 24, 2018, initial themes prioritized through task forces include: (a) circular water management in industrial clusters and cross-sectoral collaboration (municipal-industry-agriculture) for integrated approaches to wastewater management; and (b) enabling environment including policy and governance for promoting improved management of industrial water.

Both priorities build upon the Urban Wastewater Reuse Policy that was developed by 2030 WRG—and approved by the Karnataka state cabinet in December 2017—as well as 2030 WRG’s hydro-economic analysis on urban-industrial sectors. The aim is to develop the right mix of practical solutions, including behavioral, technical, and financing options. The task forces will interact and interface with the various industries and implementing agencies in Karnataka to develop action plans to solve water management challenges in Karnataka.

Photo credits: Satvik Shahapur from Pexels

Water Inventory Exercise by Kilimanjaro Water Stewardship Platform Reaps Huge Returns

A water inventory exercise carried out by the Kilimanjaro Water Stewardship Platform (KWSP) in the Usa-River sub-catchment within the Pangani Basin—one of Tanzania’s most agriculturally productive areas and an important hydropower production region, yielded shocking results. Through this exercise, a Catchment Stewardship platform established by Tanzania 2030 WRG, discovered that 62 percent of water abstractions in the area were illegal. Furthermore, 10 percent of water users there held expired permits, and 52 percent lacked any permit whatsoever. Meanwhile, only 58 percent of registered users paid their dues.

With such meager income, it is difficult for Basin Water Boards (BWB), the Water Resources Management Authority responsible for enforcement of water resources management regulation and ensuring effective stakeholder collaboration and engagement, to carry out its mandated activities, including maintaining a registry of water users and reviewing water permits every five years. Its inability to perform such key functions directly undermines its means to secure much-needed income, and traps it in a vicious cycle. 

This inventory exercise—which was jointly carried out by the Pangani BWB in collaboration with the International Water Stewardship Program (IWaSP) and the local Water Users Association under the Catchment Management and Restoration Workgroup of the KWSP—was a much-needed first step to help BWB work its way out of that vicious cycle. Not only did the exercise uncover important insights about BWB’s users, it also gave BWB a valuable tool to raise awareness among water users about their responsibility to BWB. Specifically, the exercise gave BWB the opportunity to educate many users who were found to be abstracting water without a permit about the new act requiring all users to register with BWB.  

The efforts for the month-long inventory exercise paid off hugely. Over the course of the inventory exercise, the Pangani BWB collected a total of TZS 10.3 million (USD 4.6K) in outstanding fees.  

Moving forward, BWB plans to use the funds collected to expand the exercise beyond the Usa-River sub-catchment, which is only one of the many tributaries of the Kikuletwa River Catchment within the operation area of KWSP.  

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Wastewater Reuse in Agriculture: An Experiment in Maharashtra

The 2030 WRG team is working with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Maharashtra and the Pune Agriculture College to launch a scientific experiment to assess the efficacy of low-energy biological treatment of city sewage and its application in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and agro-forestry. There are plans to build two plants—each with a 100 m3/day capacity—at two campuses of the Agriculture College.

The experimental designs for both plants are based on a deep understanding of bioaccumulation of heavy metals, pesticides, organic pollutants and microorganisms in the food chain that has yet to be captured through any scientific assessments. The research approach includes testing the experimental zones with controlled food chains. Aligned with the spirit of the multi-stakeholder process followed by 2030 WRG, the experiments are designed to involve public sector (Agriculture Department), private technology developers, and civil society, specifically academia and researchers. If successful, this project could serve as an inspiration for greater adoption of wastewater reuse in the agriculture sector in India.  

Tapping city sewage

The plants are designed to tap city sewage from a drain passing through the campuses, which currently drains the wastewater into nearby river bodies. Results of initial technology evaluations carried out by a team of researchers at 2030 WRG and Pune’s Agriculture College favor the use of phytorid and bioremediation technologies, specifically using biologically engineered vegetation as a treatment option. These technologies are well commercialized and have been patented through National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), India’s leading Council for Scientific Research and Engineering (CSRE) laboratory. 

Strong regulatory support needed

In India, the economic value of treated wastewater within the context of circular economy is well understood, and there is strong regulatory support for wastewater recycling and reuse. Recent policy changes in the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra clearly reflects such support. Although there is increasing adoption of such practices in the urban and industrial sectors in India, they are rare in the food and agriculture sector.  

Resilience essential

The Maharashtra 2030 WRG Multi-Stakeholder Platform’s work-stream on livelihood enhancement in rain-fed agriculture was developed in recognition of the need to explore wastewater reuse in the agriculture sector. Such an effort is strategic given the need to create water security and to ensure favorable water allocations in the agriculture sector where resilience in both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture is essential. 

Resource to be harnessed

Across the globe, a variety of sectors are starting to experiment with wastewater recycling and reuse, albeit with varying degrees of success. A global shift in perception has taken place, where wastewater was seen as a costly byproduct, and now recognized as a resource to be harnessed. Global best practices from Australia and Israel are testimonials to this encouraging trend.


For more details, get in touch with the Maharashtra 2030 WRG team: Mahesh Patankar, email: mpatankar@worldbank.org.