As apartments spring up in all parts of the city and the availability of water being limited it is imperative that certain steps be put in place for the safe and sustainable management of water and sanitation. Even if an apartment uses as less as 5000 litres of water a day it must have a wastewater recycling system which does such a thorough job that the treated wastewater is reused to replace fresh water and not for simply disposing off into the environment in a safe way. It is simply not good enough for treated wastewater to be used for watering lawns, an unnecessary demand. If the water utility can make it mandatory to put in place such a system it would be wise. It would be even wiser for the builder to implement such a system without the law. It would be the wisest that an aware consumer community demands this from the builder so that the pressure comes from all sides.
A dual line in each apartment will ensure use of treated wastewater for non-potable use. Treated wastewater can also be used for recharging the aquifers and suitable laws, protocols and standards need to be developed for this. It would also help if a standard list of approved wastewater treatment technologies is made available for builders to choose from. A third party inspection and certification would also ensure strict adherence to laws and effective implementation.
Other steps to consider is the complete ban on the use of fresh piped water or groundwater for lawns , swimming pools, car wash, sidewalk washing and other such wasteful uses during summer.
Individual metering for each flat has been seen to reduce demand and penalise huge users of water and reward frugal use. This should be made mandatory for all flats and apartments.
Rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory for all such buildings but again a third party inspection and certification should be made mandatory so that the true benefit from rainwater flows to the apartments and to the city.
Highly dense apartments with many flats and people residing have an incredibly large water footprint. Even with efficient water use they tend to depend on private water tankers. These tankers in turn draw water from bore-wells in the surrounding, drying up wells and bore-wells and lowering the water table. This is terrible inconvenience to many and therefore the water footprint of apartments need to be within non-damage limits to the rest of the community.
Water softeners and reverse osmosis systems used here also tend to consume large amounts of salt and also leave highly salty water into the environment. Apartments tend to do this rather voluminously. Steps will be needed to ensure that this is minimized.
By focusing on large developments and bringing efficiency and reuse their the city can manage to avoid water scarcities. The limits to demand have to be recognized and addressed. In this path lies urban water wisdom.