Context -

Denmark recently presented a paper on the 'Urban Wastewater Scenario in India' at the International Water Association (IWA) World Water Congress & Exhibition 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark, in collaboration with the Indian Delegation.

The Situation for Urban Wastewater Treatment -

  • 80% of household water is sewage. According to government data, 78% of sewage goes untreated and ends up in rivers, groundwater, or lakes.
  • Only 10% of all sewage generated in India is treated, and only 32% of urban houses are connected to a piped sewer system (Sugam & Ghosh, 2013). An alarming 70% of urban wastewater is discharged untreated into the river and sea.

Repercussions -

  • Untreated wastewater discharges from cities onto surface water bodies have polluted raw water sources, reducing water availability for human use and negatively affecting the environment, aquatic life forms, and ecology.
  • As a result, urban wastewater management has become a top priority for local officials. It is time to take tangible steps toward establishing a paradigm of growth and development that is in harmony with the environment and ecology.

Issues and obstacles -

  • Most cities have no idea how to transport or process garbage.
  • Because water is brought in from a long distance, the cost of supplies has risen, as have distribution losses. The greater the distance from the source, the greater the distribution losses and the less water at the pipeline's terminus. Cities are unable to recoup the expenses of delivery due to the enormous expenditures incurred, and so have little money to spend on sewage treatment.
  • Cities cannot prepare for and do not have the ability to treat all of the sewage they create because they do not keep track of it. This has the most serious consequences for waterways when fecal sludge is discharged. We are a generation of dried-up rivers.
  • In India, just 33% of dwellings are linked to sewage systems (Census 2011), while only around 38% utilize septic tanks. These septic tanks do not treat waste and must be emptied on a regular basis.
  • According to a survey by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), entrepreneurs who repair septic tanks pump out the sludge from the tanks and pour it into sewers, fields, or just about wherever.

Highlights from the most recent White Paper- 

  • The whitepaper, curated by specialists from AIM-NITI Aayog, ICDK, NCMG, and IIT Bombay, highlights:
  • The requirement for wastewater treatment
  • Existing infrastructure and technology have room for enhancement and expansion.
  • techniques for promoting public participation.
  • Options for funding and co-financing
  • smart data collecting technologies and,
  • Dissemination and capacity building through training and stakeholder apex bodies to improve the effectiveness of urban wastewater treatment in India.
  • Taking into account all stakeholders' concerns about wastewater management, this whitepaper comprehensively covers the current state of wastewater treatment in India and prospective paths for future treatment structures, co-creation, and partnerships.
  • This whitepaper is the result of India and Denmark's Green Strategic Partnership, with an emphasis on green hydrogen, renewable energy, and wastewater management, as well as their bilateral connections.

Suggestions for addressing the issue of urban wastewater: 

Make a concerted effort to reduce the cost of water delivery.

  • Invest in community water systems.
  • Reduce water consumption.
  • Spend money on sewage rather than water.
  • Reduce the cost of sewage systems.
  • Make a plan to recycle and reuse everything.
  • Connect the dots between water conservation and sewage management.

Source: PIB