The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is mulling to drop the word "sewerage" from its title to propagate the idea that all water, even sewage, is nothing but water.
"We want to be known as the Bangalore Water Board (BWB)," said the board's chairman Tushar Giri Nath on Wednesday, explaining that the move was being made to help the board to better market treated wastewater to the public in order to"de-stress" Bengaluru's water resources.
"It is a challenge to meet the city's water requirement and sanitation which go hand in hand. One obvious solution is to make more use of treated wastewater for non-consumptive uses," Giri Nath said.
"That is why we are planning to remove the word sewerage because all water is one water and we have to treat and use it like any other water. The challenge is how to use this treated water in the city and prevent groundwater exploitation," he said.
The chairman explained that it would take some time to change the name as the 'BWSSB' title is tied into acts and other official documents, but expressed optimism that the change would happen by the end of next year.
Elaborating on Bengaluru's current water situation, he attributed the board's failure to supply water uniformly to the city's rapidly expanding population, which he said had consistently thrown the government’s plans and projects out of whack by five to six years.
"All our population projections have failed over the last 10-15 years simply because we can’t predict how many people are coming to the city, and they keep coming,” he said.
It is a problem that the representatives of Water Future Programme, a collaboration of international scientists backed by International Science Council and Unesco, recognised. Dr Andras Szollosi-Nagy of Hungary and chair of the international Water Future Programme described the sustainable management of water resources as something that the future of all humanity hinges on.
“We need a paradigm shift in how water is managed because sustainability is driven by three factors: population growth, land use changes and urbanisation and climate change,” he said.
Giri Nath acknowledged that time was running out, but he also admitted that the BWSSB’s ability to handle matters was all but out of its hands. "We lack all manner of detailed information about the city’s water resources, including groundwater, and our manpower is less. We only have about 1,700 staff who are actually working. Delhi, in comparison, has 30,000,” he said.
BWSSB signs MoU
On Wednesday, the BWSSB signed an MoU with the Water Solutions Lab operating out of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), on the sidelines of an international conference on climate change in Bengaluru.
Dr Ravi Narayanan, chair of the Water Solutions Lab, described the MoU as a partnership, not a contract which would address three primary areas: the creation of a dynamic and real-time water security index to give the BWSSB a complete picture of the city’s water resources, including lakes and groundwater, better marketing for treated waste water and capacity development of the BWSSB.
Future Water officials said the MoU would allow the Water Solutions Lab to offer significant support to the BWSSB along these areas, with funding to come from the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
“Once we have the full picture of our water resources, we can treat water as a precious resource and we would be in a better position to sell recycled water,” Giri Nath said, but at one point he appeared not to know what the organisation he had just signed a memorandum with was, asking whether it was a group, a society or an entity.
The Water Solutions Labs is part of the Future Earth programme, an international collaboration of scientists working to battle climate change and create sustainable water management practices.