Nagpur – water and sanitation programmes integral to its push for 24/7 supply
Nagpur, a city of about 2.5 million, is in Maharashtra in the centre of India. The water supply system in Nagpur city is regulated by the Water Works Division of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) through a private operator, Orange City Water (OCW). Total water supply to the city is 540 million litres per day distributed through 2,100 km of pipeline with about 80% coverage (through 225,000 connections). The water supply system is progressively being upgraded to 24/7 supply and water security is being improved through large investments.
The Water Quality Partnership for Health programme – a partnership between the Australian government and the World Health Organization – has been promoting Water Safety Plans (WSPs) in India with the aim of improving water quality to provide the safest drinking water possible so as to prevent diarrhoeal and other water–borne diseases. Improvements are being achieved by:
- increasing WSP development and implementation thus improving water safety practice
- ensuring WSPs are an integral part of policies and institutional frameworks
- mobilising investment to support infrastructure improvements identified through WSPs
- developing resources and tools to support WSP implementation
In 2011, a water quality specialist from Australia visited Nagpur to train local staff on WSPs and since then NMC has made improvements to water treatment plants, the distribution network and in customer billing, collection and complaint redress.
In 2013, another Australian water quality specialist carried out an informal review of Nagpur’s WSP on behalf of WHO, primarily to review (i) the process of identifying key hazards that threaten water quality and the assessment of associated risks and (ii) the measures completed or proposed to manage the risks identified, including Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for staff.
WHO’s Regional Adviser for Water, Sanitation and Health, Payden, said “Although the WSP is not yet fully operational in Nagpur, the high quality work done on it to date and the impressive level of understanding of the WSP and associated SOPs is extremely encouraging. As part of the short site visit, the reviewer posed many questions to managers, operational staff and treatment plant operators relating to “what would you do if….” and it was apparent that the operators and managers had considered a wide range of risk scenarios in developing its SOPs and knew what do in any situation.”
Many examples from the Nagpur WSP implementation will be useful to other water providers in India and elsewhere in the region both in relation to technical risk based management and organizational culture. A key feature of the success has been the close working relationship between NMC, OCW and the National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) also located in Nagpur which coordinated WSP preparation.
In the case of the latter, for example, NMC created a not-for-profit limited company (Nagpur Environmental Services Ltd) under the Chairmanship of the Mayor. This enabled NMC to legitimately bypass some of the most onerous constraints on government bodies for project development and implementation. More importantly, it means that all water service revenues can be ring-fenced for maintenance and for future investment in water and sanitation services, and not lost to the wider NMC revenue budget.
NMC’s Executive Engineer, Water Works Department, Azizur Rehman, said “The WSP has significantly contributed to prioritizing interventions for 24/7 goals as well as revising system operation and maintenance with a water safety perspective. A systematic approach set out in the WSP guidance helped in discovering and monitoring a wide range of hazardous events likely to compromise water safety. WSP demonstrated identification of high risk points, particularly in the distribution system and their subsequent redress. Management practices have aided effective communication with stakeholders and enacting preventive measures such as improvements in source protection. We observed an overall improvement in service delivery with respect to reduction in non-revenue-water RW (by 15%), improved efficiency in consumer complaint redress (about 98%), and absence of Faecal Coliforms in 100% of the water samples in rehabilitated 24/7 areas.”