The Karnataka Urban Water Sector Improvement Project: 24x7 water supply is achievable- Field note by Water and Sanitation Programme, World Bank

This field note describes how it is possible to deliver twenty four water supply through individual household connections to all residents

This field note by the Water and Sanitation Program, describes how it is possible to deliver twenty four water supply through individual household connections to all residents. It illustrates the example of three cities of northern Karnataka- Belgaum, Hubli-Dharwad and Gulbarga, where the water is delivered round ‘o’clock.

The note begins with a brief description on the current water delivery system, which is intermittent, not potable and insufficient. This system had pushed the consumers to adopt expensive coping strategy, which includes installation of underground storage tanks, suction pumps on water mains or

overhead tanks, boiling water or using household filters. People with no in-house connection have to queue at stand posts, sometimes with belowground-level pipe outlets (pit taps) to access sufficient water pressure. In addition to these problems water leakage merging out from faulty joints, holes, contamination of water are also prominent. Under such a grim situation of water supply across majority of cities in India, a case for supplying 24*7 water was proposed. The Government of Karnataka (GoK), with the assistance of Indian think tanks and the World Bank, proposed ‘demonstration projects’ in three cities in Karnataka.

The aim of this project that to showcase to public and institutions that delivering water 24*7 is possible, sustainable and water will be available at an affordable price.

The note then goes on to spell out the benefits of 24*7 water supply. Following this the entire process of selecting the demonstration sites, the various stages of the project, the role of different institutions involved in the pilot project, the financial and contractual agreements are elaborated. The pro poor policy, the promised results brought under the new delivery system, the pro active role played by the NGO’s to bring in the new system and create awareness among people have also been highlighted in the note.

Finally the note concludes that 24*7 water supply is possible but it requires commitment at all levels over a long period of time. Significant change in the management approach to consumers, to billing and revenue collection is required to bring in this change. However this change can be viewed as a move towards a reformed utility which is viable in long term and is more consumers centric. Further a long term involvement of the World Bank with the government of Karnataka has turned this commitment to a demonstration project.

Click here to read the field note.

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