A workshop to develop an interface between water technology developers and other stakeholders
A workshop on developing interface between water technology developers and other stakeholders particularly those who actively address water policy issues namely officials of Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Public Health Engineering Department, NGOs, International Organisations and Professional Associations was held by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) with support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) at Nagpur on 7th September, 2010.
The objectives of the workshop was outlined as follows -
- Develop interface between water treatment technology developers and those associated with community water supply;
- Share experience on water treatment technologies;
- Identify bottlenecks in field implementation of technologies and discuss possible solutions;
- Prepare the way ahead for enhancing field implementation of lab-scale technologies;
- Discuss potential research and development thrust areas of water treatment technologies;
- Develop methodology and institutional mechanism to validate claims of technology developers on treatment efficiency and other aspects.
The context of the workshop is underscored as one marked by widespread water contamination wherein unsustainable sources impose significant demands on development of water technologies. Acceptance of these technologies by water supply agencies, community and field practitioners is equally important. While it was felt that something beyond “technology development” needs to be done, the challenges in introduction of water technologies were presented.
The size and format of the workshop encouraged active discussion and participant interaction. The structure of the workshop was as follows:
- Thematic Session – I: Water Treatment Technologies: Current Scenario and Perspective of Government of India and State Government
- Thematic Session – II: Water Treatment Technologies: Development and Perspectives of Research/Academic Institutions
- Thematic Session – III: Water Treatment Technologies: National /International Association/Organisations and Industries
- Thematic Session – IV: Water Treatment Technologies: Role of Community Based Organisations/NGOs
Apart from the presentation by NEERI outlining the context, objectives, structure and expected outcomes of the workshop, the four key presentations were –
- Water Treatment Technologies: Role of Industries in Drinking Water Safety: This presentation by Nimish Shah of the Safety & Environmental Assurance Centre of Unilever R&D Laboratory, Bangalore deals with Unilever’s efforts to achieve a sustainable balance between protecting ecosystems and meeting human needs, to assure the ability of future generations to access sufficient quantities of clean water. More specifically it looks at the role of industries in promoting drinking water safety through water treatment technology.
- Water Quality: A View of an NGO: This presentation by Vijay Krishna, Arghyam, Bangalore on its work on supporting community water management highlights the need for understanding water quality standards and creating low-cost, effective, large-scale water-purification systems, which provide safe drinking water for communities. Arghyam supports initiatives that identify and remedy water quality issues at the local level and the presentation details its work with partner organisations on arsenic, fluoride, iron, bacteriological contamination and floods. The need for symbiotic relationships between communities, NGOs, government and the scientific community through generation of awareness, action research and innovation is highlighted.
- Water Technologies: This presentation by Pawan Labhasetwar, NEERI, Nagpur highlighted cost-effective and sustainable water treatment technologies developed by CSIR laboratories and other agencies under various programmes and issues related to water supply and treatment technologies. These technologies have been successfully demonstrated in the field and can be disseminated in water quality affected rural habitations with the help from water supply agencies.
- Safe drinking water to all: Long-term water security: This presentation by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation deals with the drinking water sector scenario and the way forward.
Some of the recommendations of the workshop are as follows:
- There is need for improving water quality and availability in rural areas by working on water quality aspects on a continuous basis. Funds available with the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation and State Agencies need to be tapped for providing safe water to the community in rural area.
- Solutions and technologies are needed to solve issues regarding water quality, water quantity, water scarcity, water recycling and sewage management.
- It is necessary to identify various sites having water problems and challenges and accordingly develop techniques, materials and systems. User friendly (public-oriented) technologies should be developed so that they are easily accepted by people.
- There is need of research initiatives particularly multi-disciplinary initiatives, natural resource conservation, drinking water supply management, sharing of information, national disease surveillance program (special focus on water borne diseases), awareness raising and debate on water related issues.
- Improvements are needed in the area of bulk and individual water supply in order to make it easy to supply and to be cost-effective.
- Water Hub (Knowledge Center) should be developed for convergence as about ten different Ministries work on water related issues. This Water Hub or Institute will play role of Resource Center on all water issues.
- Easy access to water testing laboratories and equipments is required.
- There is need for inventory of technologies for water technology developers and stakeholders.
- Main concern should be about application of water treatment technologies and efficiency considerations should be secondary.
- Surveillance and monitoring of water quality issues is needed.
- There is a need for infrastructure, R & D resources and very strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for each and every parameter of water quality.
- Industries should keep the interest of consumer specially consumer’s safety in mind and develop eco-friendly technologies.
- Industries have to keep constant watch on impact of disposal from treatment technologies so as to not degrade environment.
- Standardization and certification of technologies are very important so as to be relevant to people.
- Very strict enforcement and regulatory agency for safe drinking water is a must.
- National agency should assess or evaluate the performance of water treatment technologies particularly in the field.
- Strong policy support and guidelines are needed for government, agencies and institutions to support CBOs (Community Based Organizations) and NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) to encourage participation of people.
The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss on mechanisms to: (a) Develop database of technologies and document success stories and analyse failures (b) Evolve processes with stakeholders for technology development such as consultation before initiating technology development/modifications (c) Improve technology logistics (d) Approach for validation of technology claims and (e) Build synergy among various technology development programmes/agencies/stakeholders.
Download the presentations and the proceedings of the workshop here: