Water Budgeting at Village Level for Achieving Drinking Water Security in India

By T. M. Vijay Bhaskar
The author is Joint Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Govt. of India

New Delhi, Jan 22, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) “What cannot be measured, cannot be managed”. This has become the theme slogan for the National Drinking Water Security Pilot Projects launched by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. It was felt in various deliberations on drinking water supply and management scenario in rural areas of the country that despite impressive coverage achieved under National Rural Drinking Water Programme(NRDWP), a sense of insecurity grips the population  in times of water crisis specially in the areas where groundwater has been over exploited.  This not being just a psychological perception but arising out of physical non availability of water to a village or a certain section of a village for a certain period of time , made the Ministry think on the lines of Drinking Water Security Plan at the village or habitation level.

During the International workshop on Achieving Drinking Water Security in Water stressed and Quality-affected Areas on 25-26 May 2010 the deliberations focused on the need for   measurement of the various parameters of ground water for its effective management.

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched the Pilot Projects to have a better understanding of the issues involved, and try and develop a scalable model with adequate documentation in order to make the models replicable in comparable areas, and the technical support is being provided by WSP SA (Water and Sanitation Program South Asia).

Indian Drinking Water and Sanitation

The entry point activity in the pilot project is Water Budget training where the community learns how to measure their water resources and prepare a water budget.

The training venue is normally a Panchayat building or a community hall, and sometimes during winters the meeting takes place in the chaupal of the village. The participants and the trainers both sitting on the same Darree or Jajam (a local carpet), with pedestal mounted blackboard, and a flip chart board. The three day water budget training exercise starts with an exercise to judge the level of understanding of the villagers about the water resources.   The participants then involve in a brainstorming session on the current status of the drinking water sources and supplies in their village. The community perception of the drinking water status is brought out in the group discussion. This is followed by lunch, which consists of typical local delicacies, prepared in the village itself. Post lunch the role of various stakeholders is discussed, with group discussions on the methods for assessment of the drinking water situation in the village, issues related to distribution, losses, leakages, and customer satisfaction. The day ends with a session on planning the next day activities.

The second day of the training starts with recap of the learnings of Day 1, and then the participants set out for the field work with a transect walk through the village to get a holistic picture of the water sources for various uses. The team is equipped with the Survey of India Topo Sheet, Cadastral map of the village, Compass, GPS, water level recorder, Field kits for water quality test, sample bottles, stop watches, and buckets for measurements and recording of data. Participants visit various agricultural wells, canals, tanks and drinking water wells, measure water level, quality, and discharge to get an understanding of the total water system and its impact if any on the village water supply. This field exercise is to expose the participants to the techniques of measurements with local simple tools like stop watches as well as high end tools like GPS, and compass.

Indian Drinking Water and Sanitation

After taking a few sample readings across the village and the fields, the participants return to the training venue for the lunch. Post lunch the group sits together to identify the list of parameters to be considered in water budgeting exercise. The participants discuss the use   of water budgeting, the parameters to be considered for estimation and the ways and means of collecting the data. The group finalizes a simple water budget calculation principle. Mock water budgeting exercise follows with the participants divided in to 6 groups of 4 to 5 members each.

Volunteer explains requirement of water for domestic purposes

These groups visit different localities within their village with specific objectives to gather information and data as follows:

  • Group 1:Details of surface water sources such as lakes, ponds, canals, their approximate measurements
  • Group 2: Agronomy, agricultural practices, crop area
  • Group 3: Details of Livestock
  • Group 4: Details of Groundwater sources such as Tubewells, open wells
  • Group 5: Water required for domestic and drinking water needs
  • Group 6: Leakages in the village water supply scheme, and water wastages in the village

The groups carry out the work during the evening and even the late evenings to visit locations and collect figures.

Indian Drinking Water and Sanitation

On Day 3 the groups finalize the calculations and present their data.

Various groups present their data and information and the total water requirements of the village are than computed by the community.

Based on these data the community then calculates the water balance for the village, from the details that emerged from the deliberations after the assignment of group tasks to volunteers. Trainer group encouraged the volunteers to assess the availability and consumption within their village. All the calculations are based on the data provided by the group.   Since the typically difficult measurement units of meter cube and kilo liters to measure huge quantity of water are difficult to be understood by the community, simple unit of their village water tank which is 50,000 litres is used for the calculations and all calculations are done in terms of the number of tanks where 1 tank = 50,000 litres. Different groups in different village also evolve their own measurement units that are easy to explain or be understood by the community.

A typical water balance calculation is as follows:

             

Calculation of Rainwater availability

 

Area of the village

767 Hectare

7670000

M2

 

Rainfall

600mm

0.6

M

 

Rainwater availability

  

4602000

M3

92040

Tanks

 

Percolation as Groundwater

@20%

920400

M3

18408

Tanks

 

Calculation of Canal water availability

 

Length of canal within the village periphery

4300

 

Water available/Meter of canal

34

M3

 

Annual water available  (4300x34) =

146200

M3

2924

Tanks

 

Canal Water available for  GW recharge @10%

14620

M3

292

Tanks

 

Canal water used for irrigation

393100

M3

7862

Tanks

 

Calculation of Return flow from Irrigation

Water used for irrigation

2850750

M3

57015

Tanks

Rate of percolation for return flow

20%

Water percolated as return flow

570150

M3

11403

Tanks
















             

             

Calculation of Water Balance for village Chada

Total water available

Total water consumed

From Rainfall

18408

Tanks

Irrigation

57015

Tanks

Recharge by canal

292

Tanks

Drinking & Domestic Water Supply

1188

Tanks

Direct Canal irrigation

7862

Tanks

Water Supply Scheme wastage

256

Tanks

Irrigation Return flow

11403

Tanks

cattle

663

Tanks

Total availability

37965

Tanks

Total Consumption

59122

Tanks

Overall Consumption

156

%

             

A water balance is shown as a picture also by the community so that a  comparison may be drawn for the consumption and availability.

Water Balance Shown as a Picture

The group than engages into deliberations onto how to set the balance right. This triggers a long process of discussions, which continues in the following days, and results into some decision by the community themselves which come out as Drinking water Security Plan for the village. This plan lists the issues for the Drinking water Security, and enumerates the activities required to achieve Drinking water security for the village. The activities may range from self regulation on water wastages to modified agricultural practices for better water use efficiency or changing the crop pattern, or to change the pipe lines, or installation of valves or modifications in the distribution systems.

The Pilot projects are aimed at achieving drinking water security in a holistic manner, through a four-pronged approach of  - Measures for source sustainability through convergence with MNREGS, IWMP and other Watershed programmes and NRDWP; Participatory integrated water resources management led by Gram Panchayats; Preparation of drinking water security plans by villages; and Making the selected villages open defecation free and ensuring proper solid and liquid waste management.

A  Steering Committee at the Ministry level headed by the Secretary, MDWS, GOI oversees and monitors the progress of the National Drinking Water Security Pilot Projects.

The planning and  implementation ,  at the District level, and for the convergence issues, a District Core Group headed by the District Collector is in place in all the Districts that have the Pilot blocks, consisting of officers from the departments which deal with water management in the district and also the departments which affect the water scenario in the District in order to provide a holistic view, and data and technology transfer supports for the development of water security plans for the Pilot Block.

The Rural Water Supply department is the nodal agency for execution of the project. Since the work involves lot of efforts on the front of community mobilization, support organizations have been recruited which are responsible for awareness generation, baseline data collection, trainings of Village Water and Sanitation Committees, and assisting the community in preparing village water security plans.  Financing for the pilot comes from the existing allocations under the NRDWP Sustainability and Support components, MNREGS funds and allocations under the 13th Finance Commission recommendations.

15 blocks with alarming level of ground water development have been identified in the States of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra,  for demonstration with a provision for scaling up to the district level and thereafter on to a larger scale if the pilots are successful.

Thus, a revolution has been initiated silently in the rural drinking water sector of the country, through shaping up of village level drinking water security plans, by empowering the communities with the technical knowhow that sharpens their traditional wisdom and understanding of their water resources, and by reinstalling the faith in the community about their capabilities to manage their own drinking water.

(PIB Feature.)