Municipal wastewater reuse to offset water demand in India

Water stress in urban India may be attributed to widening gap between demand and supply, high industrial water footprint, decreasing per capita water availability, increasing pollution of freshwater resources and climate change factor. Given the strong linkages of country’s economic lifeline to water resources; this paper highlights the need for transformational shift in water resource management from linear to circular economy principles through multidimensional approach. It specifically evaluates the economic feasibility of municipal wastewater reuse to mitigate the emerging water crisis. Drawing upon existing literature; it highlights the consequences of untreated sewage discharge on economy, health, and ecology.

Different dimensions of factors limiting creation of market for wastewater reuse along with scope for cross -learning are explored. Further, differentiated strategy to integrate wastewater reuse into basin level planning is postulated based on data triangulation. A suggestive roadmap to create enabling regulatory and institutional landscape is proposed.

The study is expected to aid policy makers in making informed decision to mainstream wastewater reuse and reinvigorate water resource governance in the country.

Authors: Sumouleendra Ghosh, Shibabrata Chakraborty, Sanhita Sharma