Water use efficiency: Steps taken by Delhi Jal Board

Er. R.S. Tyagi, Former Member (WS), Delhi Jal Board

Water plays a pivotal role in sustainable development, including poverty reduction. The use and abuse of increasingly precious water resources has intensified dramatically over the past decades, reaching a point where water shortages, water quality degradation and aquatic ecosystem destruction are seriously affecting prospects for economic and social development, political stability and ecosystem integrity. Currently, over 1 billion people lack access to water which is lowest in Africa and also critical in India. This water crisis is largely our own making. It has resulted not from the natural limitations of the water supply or lack of financing and appropriate technologies, even though these are important factors, but rather from profound failures in water governance. In every city, by every government and any political set up, the drinking water coverage is given more priority, whereas; sanitation, disposal of waste is given the last priority. Even in India, if we see the percentage of sewage collection and its treatment, the situation is very pathetic. In metro cities hardly 50-55% sewage is collected and treated, in class-I cities, its percentage is 30-35% and Class-II cities only 8-10%. With this data, the micro level picture is also not convincing. Whatever, the capacities of treatment is there, hardly 30% Sewage Treatment Plants perform satisfactorily. Remaining untreated waste definitely flows out into natural streams and pollutes surface water. While wastewater flows in the natural streams, it also pollutes ground water through percolation.

Delhi Jal Board:

It is one of the largest water utilities in the world serving more than 25 million people with water supply and managing sewerage system of entire Delhi, the National Capital Territory. It has 10 water treatment Plants of total production capacities of 860 MGD and more than 5000 Raneey wells and Borewells drawing around 90 MGD water from the ground. There are more than 1000 water tankers supplementing drinking water supply in water deficit areas. Similarly, it has 36 Sewage Treatment Plants at 24 Locations of total capacities 640 MGD whereas; 550 MGD sewage is being collected and treated.


Need of Water use efficiency:

Water is of course a natural resource. But when it is made worth drinking and made available to the individuals, it becomes a scarce commodity. Scarce means that water is not in abundance on this planet. It is a well known fact that hardly 3% water of this Planet is worth drinking out of which 77% water is stored in glaciers, 22% in ground and 1% in Rivers, lakes and ponds. Ignorance in handling wastewater is polluting this precious drinking water available in ground and surface. Climate change also poses a major threat to human development.

Delhi Jal Board has taken many steps for improving water use efficiencies as under:

Reduction in seepage and evaporation losses in raw water conveyance system: The raw water for Delhi’s drinking needs is brought from Bhakra, Nangal Dam, Tajewala Headworks and Tehri Dam which are located 300 to 400 Kms away from Delhi. All the conveyance systems of carrying raw water from these sources are the earthen canals where 15 to 35% losses are through seepages and evaporation. Delhi Jal Board has constructed 108 Kms cement line canal from Munak Head works in Haryana upto Haiderpur Water Treatment Plant saving around 120 MGD raw water in seepage. With this saving, DJB commissioned and operationalized three water treatment plants of total 90 MGD at Dwarka (50 mgd), Bawana (20 MGD) & Okhla(20 MGD). Similarly, around 250 MGD Raw water is conveyed through Cement Concrete circular ducts from Muradnagar (Upper Ganga Canal) to Sonia & Bhagirathi Water Treatment Plants covering a length of 33 Kms. Hence. There are no seepage and evaporation losses in this stretch.

Water Reclamation from waste water resulting from treatment process:

there is 8 to 10% raw water is lost during the process of treatment of water i.e in backwashing of filters and cleaning of storages etc. Delhi Jal Board set up recycle Plants to reclaim the water from that waste water, thus saving of 49 MGD of filter water as under:

i. Wazirabad WTP : 12 MGD
II. Haiderpur WTP : 16 MGD
III. Bhagirathi WTP : 10 MGD
IV. Chandrawal WTP : 7 MGD
V. Nangloi WTP : 4 MGD

Reduction of water losses in Transmission Mains:

Treated filtered water is pumped and transmitted with pressure from Water Treatment Plants to the Primary Reservoirs. Water loss is through joints of the Pre-stressed / C.I. pipes or through the body of the pipe. Water loss is round the clock and seepage into ground or sometimes may damage the adjacent structures. All the transmission mains of prestressed cement pipes and C.I. Materials have been replaced with Mild Steel lines and coated pipes to ensure water tightness of joints. Delhi Jal Board has saved around 10% filtered water after replacing old pipes.

Water Loss in Distribution main & House Connections (NRW):

Since, Delhi’s population is increasing manifold and there is no hope of addition of raw water in near future, Delhi Jal Board planned to manage the water supply in an efficient way. Delhi Jal Board took initiative to conduct Water Audit up to Micro Level through various studies as under:


The consultants M/S Halcrow and PWC-DHV-TCE worked out the NRW varying from 45% to 55% depending on the area and pattern of consumption.

JICA has conducted the study of NRW while preparing the Water Master Plan and assessed NRW varying from 45 to 65%.

While conducting the baseline study in Nangloi Water treatment command area, NRW was assessed maximum up to 68% by M/S ILFS-STUPS-JV.

From the above studies, it came out that reduction of NRW is inevitable. Hence, it took initiative to form District Meter Areas (DMAs) with key performance indicators as reduction in NRW, Reduction in electricity consumption, ensure water quality, extension of water connectivity and increase in duration of water supply through outsourcing agencies on PPP Model. These agencies are of international repute and have expertise in efficient management of water supply in Europe and Asian Countries i.e. SUEZ, VEOLIA (Both are French companies with Indian Partners) and one Israel company. The areas were selected as the command area of Nangloi Water Treatment Plant, Malviya Nagar Underground Reservoir, Vasan Vihar and Meharoli. The remaining areas are also under consideration for awarding water asset management work.

Leak Detection Management: To reduce the real losses, Delhi Jal Board set up the Leak Detection Investigating Cell and adopted following Best Management Practices to curb the leakage s:

Hardware: Visual Inspection, Sounding Rods to sense the noise during night hours, Co-Relaters and Helium Gas sensors.

Software: GIS application and Pressure drop analysis

Recycle & Reuse of water:

To supplement drinking water demand, Delhi Jal Board supplies around 89 MGD treated effluent for no drinking purposes i.e. irrigation, Horticulture, cooling of Power Plants and Industrial use etc.

Customer Oriented services: Rvenue Management System:

With the introduction of 24×7 online services by DJB, consumers can avail facilities such as bill payment, download forms, and apply for new connections among other services. Consumers can also update their mobile numbers to get SMS alerts for different services. In the interests of the consumer, DJB has also waived off the transaction charges on the payment made online which is now borne by DJB itself.

Computerized Complaint Management System & Call Centre:

To increase efficiency and performance, across the system, a centralized 24×7 Call Centre was set up, with a Computerized Complaint Management System, to provide quick and speedy redressal to the public grievances. Consumers can call at the call centre toll-free number 1916, provided by DJB, and lodge all types of complaints related to water & sewer issues .

Mobile Application for the convenience of its consumers. The application comes with a provision to upload suggestions/ complaints along with photographs related to Dirty water, Leakage of water, Sewer overflow, Missing manhole covers on DJB’s website. Bill can be downloaded and paid.

Schedule of Tankers:

Uploaded schedule of timings of all tankers on websites so that the beneficiaries can oversee the schedule and do not waste their time in waiting for the tankers.

Government Policies for enhancing water efficiencies:

Free water supply: The Domestic consumers of Delhi Jal Board consuming water upto 20 KL per month will be exempted from payment of water bill w.e.f. 01.01.2014 for functional meters. Domestic consumers consuming more than 20 KL per month will be billed as per applicable tariff for their full water consumption. This gives a sense of water conservation to the consumers to keep their consumption within 20KL/Month to avail free water.

Invisble Leak Detection

Water & Sewer Development Charges:

Water & sewer development charges have been reduced from Rs 500/- to Rs 100/- per sq. m. of plot areas so that more and more consumers are registered.

Penalty for unauthorized connections:

Penalty for regularization of water connection has been reduced from Rs 33000/ to Rs 1800/- only to encourage illegal consumers to legalize their water connections

Various facilities:

Facility of self meter reading, generation of bill and payment online by the consumer through Mobile App: M-seva.

Incentives for RWH & Recycling plants:

To encourage installation of Rainwater harvesting system and using recycled water Delhi Jal Board gives 10% incentive on water bills for using Rain Water Harvesting System and additional 15% for consumers having their own Recycling Plant to use treated effluent for non drinking purposes.

Telescoping Water Tariff:

Delhi Jal Board has designed a telescopic water tariff by which if any consumer consumes more water, he has to pay more. Higher consumption water goes to the higher slabs of water tariff. Hence, it discourages consumers to use less water.

To enhance further water efficiencies, Delhi Jal Board is switching from manual to mechanical means and outsourcing various activities to ensure quick disposal of water related complaints. Zonal services havebeen further connected with higher officers to address the complaints and their quick disposal. In future, Delhi Jal Board may become the state of art water utility department by adopting best management practices.

View expressed by- Er. R.S. Tyagi, Former Member (WS), Delhi Jal Board.