Quality Check: DJB to implement integrated water quality monitoring system

DJB to implement integrated water quality monitoring system

The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) was constituted in April 1998 under the Delhi Water Board Act, 1998 to provide water supply, sewage disposal and stormwater drainage facilities in the National Capital Region. At present, the board serves around 2 million people and is responsible for the production and distribution of potable water to all parts of the city except the areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the cantonment board, where DJB supplies bulk water. Apart from this, DJB is responsible for the collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater in all parts of the city including the NDMC and cantonment areas. In February 2015, DJB started supplying potable water to the Dwarka area, which was earlier served by the Delhi Development Authority.

Over the years, DJB has undertaken a number of IT initiatives to meet the requirements of the growing consumer base. The board has adopted innovative approaches for e-governance such as the deployment of advanced online solutions for revenue management, grievance redressal, leak detection, online bill payment and tanker distribution management.

Currently, the civic agency is developing an integrated system for monitoring the quality of water supplied to the entire city. The primary objective of the system is to upgrade the existing laboratories to ensure real-time data collection and resource monitoring. The initiative is currently at the initial stages of implementation. To this end, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute is conducting a feasibility study and the report is likely to be submitted by mid-2017. Based on the results of the study, DJB will engage a private company to undertake the project.

Key features of water quality monitoring system

Delhi’s current water demand is estimated at 1,100 million gallons per day (mgd). Against this, DJB supplies about 900 mgd of potable water. The board operates a total of eight zonal water testing laboratories and nine water treatment plants (WTPs) across the city. In order to monitor the quality of water supplied, samples collected from residential areas are tested in zonal laboratories on a regular basis. About 500 water samples are tested in the laboratories every day. Besides, drinking water generated at the WTPs is tested before release.

The laboratories, however, lack advanced equipment for monitoring various parameters that affect the quality of water. Moreover, the data available from various laboratories is not properly maintained. As a result, it becomes difficult to assess the overall quality of water.

To address these issues, the civic agency is developing an integrated water quality system that monitors the quality of water supplied to the entire city on a real-time basis. The project is estimated to entail an investment of Rs 540 million. Under the project, all zonal laboratories will be equipped with better testing instruments and technologies. These laboratories will also be accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories. The collated data along with the results of water quality tests conducted by the board will be available online on a real-time basis.

Once the data is collected, it will be integrated at a central place and then represented in the form of reports. The chlorine, pH, dissolved oxygen and conductivity levels at each plant and zonal laboratory will be recorded in real time. This process provides two major benefits. Firstly, any abnormal behaviour in terms of high/low chlorine, high/low pH, and high/low dissolved oxygen is brought to the notice of the concerned engineer. Secondly, the information on the current chlorine, pH and dissolved oxygen levels informs the civic agency regarding the efficiency of WTPs.

Further, DJB plans to set up a disaster management laboratory to deal with any potential threat to the city’s water supply. An international standard training facility is also on the cards where engineers and officials will be trained to use equipment, and implement methods for water quality testing and assessment.

Key benefits and the way forward

The proposed integrated water quality monitoring system is expected to help the civic agency to centrally monitor the quality parameters of water supplied to the entire city. This is likely to result in several benefits such as facilitating collection, as well as storage and monitoring of water quality data on a real-time basis. The system will immediately report/notify the concerned officials about any problem in the water quality and the area of occurrence. Further, it will enhance accountability and transparency in the delivery of services by DJB.

Going forward, the successful implementation of the integrated water quality monitoring system will serve as an example for other water utilities to learn from and implement similar initiatives in their cities.