Real-time monitoring by technological tools, such as smart meters and sensors, can help big cities save up to Rs 27 lakh a day and at least 15 per cent of water that’s lost owing to leakages and pilferage.

Unaccounted for water (UFW) is high at 20-50 per cent in urban India, indicative of inefficient management. The highest UFW is in the National Capital Region, says a recent report by TERI and Nasscom titled “Sustainable Tomorrow: Harnessing ICT Potential.”

With water demand in India estimated to rise seven-fold by 2050 compared with 1997 levels, the report rings alarm bells for all stakeholders.

Already, water quality is poor largely owing to dumping of industrial waste. To top it, climate change will have a direct or indirect effect on supply of ground and surface water caused by the intensity of rainfall, floods and drought.

Conservation of water, therefore, cannot be ignored by Governments, industry and citizens, says the report, and calls for greater use of ICT (information and communication technology) tools for efficient management of data and information, which would form the basis of efficient water use.

Urban local bodies can use ICT tools to monitor water sources and reservoirs, keep track of raw water treatment plant and storage, monitor the pipeline distribution, sewerage and drainage network and waste water treatment.

Even the flow of water, its quantum and quality as well as metering can be controlled by using ICT devices, integrated with the overall supervisory system. These devices can also be used for billing, tariff collections, grievance redress, asset management etc, says the report.

For example, there are two kinds of smart meters available in the country – the Automated Meter Reading (AMR) and the Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI). The AMR is a one-way communication to the utility, which conveys usage data, while the AMI is a two-way communication system between the device and the utility and can monitor real time usage, can send alarms for excessive use, identify leakages, thefts etc.

The use of such tools will prove useful for industry, agriculture, domestic users as well as the Government.

In fact, full scale use of ICT tools could lead to 50 per cent savings in water as well as revenues, adds the report.

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