Despite being considered the backbone of a healthy economy, the water supply network has been largely overlooked in the past. Many cities in India are under constant threat of depleting water resources and water pollution. With the increase in urban population, the pressure on water and wastewater infrastructure has increased. In order to meet the ever-increasing water demand, urban system interventions, such as an equitable supply of water at different levels, leakage minimisation, pressure and asset management, upkeep of ageing infrastructure and development of better groundwater pumping, are required. Urban local bodies and private utilities are incorporating technologies such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems into their day-to-day operations in order to better manage the existing water distribution network and infrastructure, and streamline the management process.
Smart Utilities takes a look at some of the digital water management initiatives taken by Bhopal, GIFT city and Ahmedabad…
The total area under the new Bhopal Municipal Corporation area stands at 417.84 square km covering a population of 2,339,070 (as of 2021). The population of the city is expected to increase to 3,123,540 by 2031. As of 2021, the total water requirement of the city stands at 363 mld and is expected to increase to 468 mld by 2031. The requirement for drinking water supply in Bhopal city is met from four water sources – Upper Lake, the Narmada river, Kerwa dam and Kolar dam.
Bhopal is progressively working towards the digitalisation of water network management. Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited (BSCDCL) has taken the initiative to install a technology-enabled SCADA system as part of the comprehensive Bhopal water utility management system (water SCADA). It is expected to ensure seamless monitoring of water distribution among the citizens of Bhopal. The primary scope of work includes automation of water treatment plants and overhead tanks in the city. Under these 12 water treatment plants (WTPs), 175 overhead tanks and 12 pumping stations have been included. The installation of water quality sensors, water level sensors, pressure transmitters and flow transmitters is also a major component of this project. It will also include setting up of a dedicated command and control centre for water SCADA, which will be synced with the integrated command and control centre (ICCC) for supervisory works. As per the latest updates, the site survey and factory inspections works have been completed and excavation and related site works are in progress for the project. The command and control centre for water SCADA has been set up and integration with the ICCC is under way. The project is expected to entail an investment of Rs 0.41 billion. Of this, approval of Rs 0.17 billion for Phase 1 has been received. The project also has a mobile application for reporting to the site engineer, and Nagar Nigam officials. Programmable logic controller-based control panels have been installed at all locations – 12 WTPs, six pumphouses and 161 elevated surface reservoirs.
Going forward, for the 2021-26 period, Bhopal is planning to improve the existing water lines by establishing the water network and ensuring connectivity to the reservoirs. Plans are also under way to ensure tap connections in all households. As per the latest updates, more than 60 per cent of this target has been achieved. Further, new projects with investments of around Rs 3.5 billion will be incorporated into the water management of the city.
The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) is an emerging global financial and information technology service hub. It is designed to be at par with globally benchmarked business districts and is India’s first operational smart city. Integrated development is being undertaken on 886 acres of land with 62 million square feet of built-up area. Of the total built-up area, 67 per cent (42 million square feet) is for commercial use, 22 per cent (14 million square feet) for residential use and the remaining 11 per cent (6 million square feet) is for social use.
The most distinct feature of GIFT city is its state-of-the-art infrastructure, which includes WTPs, utility tunnels, a district cooling plant, and an automated waste collection and segregation plant. The water pipelines in GIFT city are interconnected at several locations through automated valves and meters to ensure that the unaccounted-for water is below 10 per cent. The entire water supply system in the city has been mapped on a geographic information system (GIS), giving the operation and maintenance department a clear picture of the underground systems, location of the sensors, etc.
The water management system in GIFT city is entirely controlled by internet of things (IoT). Potable water is being transported by pumping from the WTP to the underground tanks of various buildings in the area. The entire network of the city is installed with a motorised control valve, a level transmitter and a flow meter. The water collection sump inside the developer’s building is equipped with a level transmitter, level switches and a motorised valve. The open/close feedback of these three signals is connected to an IoT system for monitoring purposes. The motorised valve of the developer’s building will remain in open position till the water collection sump level is above 90 per cent. After the water collection sump level reaches 90 per cent, the developer’s valve will be automatically closed. If this does not happen, the valve will change to close position. Meanwhile, in order to achieve potability of water under the “drink-from-any-tap” concept, sensors will be installed in all water taps to monitor the water flow and quality. At present, sensors that will measure biological parameters of water are under development. The sensors installed only measure the pH and turbidity of water. Other salient features of GIFT city’s water system include an automated city water distribution network, online water metering and quality monitoring, recycling and reuse of wastewater and adoption of the zero-discharge city concept. All the water infrastructure components, including the raw water pumping station, the WTP and the pipeline network, have been equipped with metering facilities. The aim is to improve consumer satisfaction and exceed regulatory standards by ensuring minimal interruptions/breakdowns, maximum reliability, and enhanced planning and scheduling of maintenance activities.
The sewage treatment plant in GIFT city is a SCADA-operated plant and the entire sewage infrastructure is mapped on GIS. The solid waste management system in GIFT city consists of an automated waste collection system for segregation and treatment. Waste collection is done through pipelines to avoid human intervention in the best possible way, thereby reducing health and environmental issues. These initiatives are expected to provide an international standard of working and living to the residents.
The Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) is working steadily to develop an efficient and effective water network management system in the city. AUDA has earmarked Rs 1.58 billion for strengthening the water supply network in new residential clusters in 2022-23. It has also expanded coverage to supply potable water to 45 villages on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar under the Jal Jeevan Mission. In the areas of Ghuma and Bopal, AUDA is implementing a 24×7 water supply scheme. Further, it is actively considering the introduction of new technologies to strengthen the water supply network. AUDA’s vision statement for water supply focuses on the reduction in water consumption by ensuring 24 hours of efficient and adequate water supply. It also targets reduction in power consumption by adopting energy efficient technologies and minimising losses by reduction in unaccounted-for water through monitoring mechanisms and continuous measurements. It also focusses on reducing waterborne diseases caused due to inefficiencies in water supply systems.
Under the 24×7 water supply in the Bopal area of AUDA, a total area of 569.77 hectares is serviced. The projected population of the area in 2033 will stand at 142,443 and in 2048 stands at 284,885. Similarly, water demand is expected to reach 25.6 mld in 2033 and 51.3 mld in 2048. AUDA has given top priority to the development of a systematic 24×7 water supply in the area. The scheme is based on the Narmada canal water. The system has been designed for 2048. The key components under its proposal include a topological survey, consumer survey and GIS mapping. Further, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and SCADA works will be carried out at the pumphouse. Digital interventions will be undertaken in the data collection, mapping and design process under the project. This would include the preparation of a GIS base map, GIS-based consumer survey, a GIS-based topological survey and GIS-based water network mapping.
For efficient operations and maintenance of pumps, SCADA will be used to assess the water levels in the elevated surface reservoirs, and electronic/ultrasonic level monitors will be deployed for all water sumps and elevated service reservoirs. Further, all distribution networks will be equipped with a flow control valve, bulk flow meters, a pressure gauge and pressure transmitters. Consumer management and grievance redressal will be undertaken using the latest technologies and automatic meter reading. Water management software will be implemented to assess leakages and assist in water audit. A control centre will also be established for single-point monitoring and control of water supply in the entire area designated as the smart city area. The introduction of technology across the value chain will improve operations, management, governance, planning and consumers experience. The current scenario of information and communication technology adoption and digitalisation has made it imperative for utilities to undertake digital interventions with a strategy and a roadmap. The outbreak of the pandemic only accelerated the need for digitalisation and technological interventions. However, some issues are encountered while adopting digital strategies. Key amongst these is the lack of determination and commitment for investment in digital solutions. Further, the lack of system integration and siloed technological intervention has been a challenge. Another key issue faced is the lack of change in management, which leads to under-utilisation of the technological platform. In order to achieve the right growth, it is essential that a comprehensive digital water strategy is adopted.
The major water imbalance in the country is due to the overexploitation of groundwater, heavy non-revenue water losses, limited reuse and recycling of wastewater, and technological backwardness. For the country to thrive on existing water resources, it is essential that smart and intelligent water systems are developed going forward. Technologies such as remote monitoring, automation and SCADA will help not only to conserve and maintain the quality of water, but also to create a sustainable and scalable water economy for water utilities.
Based on inputs from Jitendra Rathore, Project Engineer, IT ICT Strategy and Design, BSCDCL; Janki Jethi, Vice-President, GIFT city; and Narendra Modi (Water Resources Management), Officer on Special Duty, AUDA, at a recent India Infrastructure conference