The next time you keep that tap running for an extra minute, remind yourself of this – 52% of the city’s water supply goes down the drain, mainly due to leakage. The data from the Centre for Science and Environment paints a grim picture for the national capital which depends on neighbouring states to meet its water demand.
According to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), this loss includes non-revenue water too, but when around 19% of the city’s population is not covered under the water supply system, every drop is precious. As per the DJB, Delhi’s total demand, both domestic and non-commercial, is 4,903 million litres daily (MLD) while the total supply is 3,995 MLD which leaves a gaping deficit.
While the water board claims around 700 MLD of this gap is met through treated effluent water from sewage treatment plants for non-domestic use, the ground situation is quite stark, especially in the summer, with over 500 colonies in the city still outside the DJB network.
In 2013, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that 24.8% of Delhi’s population was being supplied 3.82 litres per capita daily. However, in many areas of the city, consumption was found to be over 220 litres per person per day.
In effect, while a large section of the city remains parched, average daily per capita consumption in many areas surpasses even that of London, where the per capita consumption is merely 170 litres.
So, for how long can Delhi depend on borrowed water from Haryana or the promised supply from the Renuka dam in Himachal Pradesh which will carry its own ecological cost? Over the next four weeks, we will take a look at Delhi’s water supply system and the ground water situation, identifying challenges and the way ahead for the city to be able to manage its water supply in a more sustainable manner.