Blueprint for National Water Accounting in India

2030 WRG in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MOWR) and India-EU Water Partnership, is supporting the development of a blueprint for water accounting in India.

This blueprint builds upon international experiences, with the overall objective to:

  • Provide an architecture for appropriate policy decisions at the national and state-level, towards sustainable, equitable, and economics-driven water use;
  • Develop indicators and data-sets to analyze trends in water consumption, availability, efficiency, cost recovery, economic productivity, and quality for appropriate demand-side management at scale;
  • Support the prioritization of investments aimed at enhancing water efficiency/ quality improvements and mitigating negative impacts on the environment.

Context

As with many other countries in the world, India has been facing a severe deterioration of services associated with freshwater ecosystems, mainly due to pollution and over-abstraction. At the same time, water-related extreme events like floods and droughts significantly hit the society and economy. Such problems are aggravated by gaps in policy, governance systems, infrastructure and technologies, and their effects are more relevant than in other countries due to the large number of poor, and a high dependency on water. The global trends – including climate change, population increases and rising demands for food and energy – make water management more difficult and conflictive.

Water balance approaches

This is the context for the challenging task to design a blueprint for improved water resources management and a water indicator system in India. To make water use sustainable and to manage demand, the immediate and most urgent need is to undertake scientific water resources assessment and planning. In this pursuit, water accounting plays an important role. The outputs of such water balance approaches can be utilized by policy makers to make decisions on water allocation, by aligning information from different institutions, in order to analyse trends and accelerate demand-side water management solutions.

Consultative process

With the aim of developing such a blueprint, 2030 WRG has been facilitating a multi-stakeholder consultative process in order to identify needed priority interventions and mobilize stakeholder interest towards using such a framework for better water management practices. Four stakeholder workshops have been conducted in 2017 as a part of this initiative.

During these workshops, two task forces on water quality and water efficiency have been operationalized, with participation across stakeholder groups.

Dashboards

With respect to water quality, the immediate priority for indicator and dashboard development is the Ganga Basin, aligned with the National Mission for the Clean Ganga initiative and the Smart Cities program, aimed at targeting areas with the maximum untreated wastewater. Based on the dashboards developed, priority actions will be initiated as a next step, including private sector and industry participation for wastewater treatment.

Water quality monitoring requires the identification of critical parameters, strategic locations for monitoring sites, standardized protocols for laboratory measurements, appropriate frequency of data collection, and a focus on flows in addition to water quality, for an integrated approach to pollution loads and biodiversity considerations.

Decision making toolkits

Under the water efficiency task force, the focus is on developing toolkits for decision-making on water efficiency and productivity at a river basin scale, including the use of remote sensing technology. This track focuses on building institutional capacity within central- and state-level institutions, academic institutions, civil society, and enabling organizations to drive water efficiency and productivity improvements among strategic basins, including the pilot basins of Tapi and Cauvery. The Tapi Basin engagement will align with 2030 WRG’s recently launched Maharashtra Multi-Stakeholder Platform to drive stakeholder-based approaches to water accounting. Such approaches will accelerate private sector and civil society involvement for efficiency in agricultural, urban and industrial settings.

A ‘Project Management Unit’ has been established within Central Water Commission to coordinate water accounting activities and roll-out this approach in the country.