A water audit should be undertaken at least once in 10 years

By GovernanceToday
In Interview
May 4, 2016

Over a span of 50 years, DHI has helped over 140 countries deal with challenges in water management. The company started its operations in India in 1985 and since then has involved itself in solving all issues related to water. Its focus areas include all water environments from river and reservoirs to oceans and coastlines and to cities and industries.  Saving water, improving the water quality, managing the flows, and forecasting floods and droughts are some of the areas where the company has been able to provide effective solutions. In an interaction with Lekshmi Parameswaran of Governance Today, Flemming Jakobsen, Managing Director, DHI gives an insight into the situation of water management in India and the measures that can be taken to stop the over exploitation of the precious resource.

Edited excerpts:

Flemming Jakobsen

Flemming Jakobsen | Managing Director, DHI

What are the focus areas of DHI, at a global level and in India?

DHI offers a wide range of consulting services and leading edge technologies and software tools, which can be applied to explore solutions in all aspects of water resources. DHI has extensive experience in the development and implementation of River Modeling System, River Basin Management Systems, Real Time Flood Forecast and Reservoir Operation System, Flood Inundation Modeling Systems, Integrated Water Resource Management and Planning, Decision Support Systems (DSS) for Integrated Water Resources Management encompassing quantity and quality of water. In addition DHI’s experience also covers Natural Resource Management, Climate Change, and Integrated Coastal Zone Management. Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS applications for Water Resources Management and Capacity Building under ‘Academy by DHI’.

DHI’s strong presence in India supports clients in getting state-of-the-art technical solutions tailored to Indian conditions and in updating and operating developed models and tools.

Can you elucidate our readers on the Real Time Decision Support System (RTDSS) and how effective it has been in preventing floods and managing droughts?

In recent past, most of regions of India either suffered from devastating floods resulting into loss of lives, crops and damage to infrastructure, or from severe drought conditions resulting in scarcity of water for drinking, irrigation and industrial use. To tackle the flood and drought situation, the reservoirs are built in many basins in India, however, very few of them are operated to regulate floods or tackle droughts due to lack of a forecasting system. The real time Decision support system together with a reservoir operation guidance system is useful to reduce peak floods downstream of the reservoirs in short term. The same system on long term basis is effective in optimal allocation of water to the stake holders and minimizing the effect of droughts. The RTDSS is integrated with real time data from telemetry stations with rainfall, water levels of rivers and reservoirs and other climatic parameters. Also the system dynamically links with other web based data sources. The RTDSS system is used for providing reservoir operation guidance for an integrated operation of the reservoirs in the basin. The model together with optimization of reservoir operation also provides a basis of optimum releases for irrigation, water supply and flood control and hydropower in the entire system. A communication and information management system, which disseminates a variety of flow/flood warning as well as drought, reports to concerned authority, organizations and communities through SMS, Email and Web portal. The system is operational in the Krishna-Bhima basin in Maharashtra.

DHILOGOThe Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) plan developed for the Tamil Nadu Government is an ambitious attempt by DHI. Can you please throw light on some of the engineering solutions provided by DHI to help in the conservation of the coastal ecosystem?

The Tamil Nadu coast comprises of ecologically sensitive areas like Pulicat Lagoon, Muthupet Lagoon, Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, the Pichavaram mangrove ecosystem and several estuaries including Manakudy. For the preparation of the Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) from the ecological perspective, Manakudy estuary has been taken as case study for ecosystem improvement. Manakudy estuary is amongst the largest estuaries in the Kanyakumari District with a total area of 145 hectares and is known for being the southernmost wintering grounds for the migratory waterfowls. The main aim of the SAMP is to restore and conserve the Manakudy estuary ecosystem, and at the same time minimizing the loss of lives and properties in the shoreline from natural coastal disasters including cyclonic storms and surges.

Some of the engineering solutions provided were: Enhancement of connectivity of the estuary to the sea; Dumping of dredged material on the beach for beach nourishment; Permanent opening and maintenance of river mouth; Stabilization of the river bank; Shoreline protection and Restoration of mangrove.

 In a country like India, managing non-revenue water (NRW) can be quite a challenge. What are the steps that can be taken to minimize the losses?

 As the first step, it needs to be required to introduce metering in all Municipal Areas and introduce billing as per actual consumption rather than a fixed charge as is being practiced in many Municipalities. Even though water is treated as a social good in India, the Municipalities should at least recover the Operation and Maintenance Cost to start with and proceed to part recovery of replacement cost in a phased manner. The next step is to introduce Asset management and replace aged and worn-out components periodically.  A Water Audit should be undertaken at least once in 10 years to determine the amount of NRW and physical losses. DMA (district meter areas) can be developed which is an area of a distribution system which is specifically defined, e.g. by the closure of valves, and in which the quantities of water entering and leaving the district are metered.

Implementing “Leak monitor” is yet another good step. Reports can be generated and published on line