Water Scarcity and Water Meters

Water supply situation has eased in Chennai, thanks to the unprecedented rains during last quarter of calendar 2005. Water shortage can surface any time. Our experience of installing water meters may be of help to Chennai residents. Hence this posting.

I stay in an apartment complex in Velachery, where there are 35 apartments. We have an open well. We have 2 borewells with a depth of 180 to 200 ft. Water from both the borewell are not potable.

We were buying water extracted from outskirts in 12000 litres tankers which cost around Rs 600 per tanker load. The bought water, meant for drinking and cooking, was supplied for 15 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Residents used to collect in containers, some in loft tanks with pipe connection to bath rooms.The bought water was used for bathing & washing clothes.

For drinking and cooking most of the residents bought packaged drinking water ranging from Bisleri ,Kinley, Sabols to various local brands like Aqua Diet, Rain Drops etc. Water consumption increased and the residents were asked to contribute more and there was resistance from small families quoting that their consumption was lower and they will not pay more.Residents of the 3rd and 4th floor were regularly complaining inadequate supply of water, due to low pressure. This resulted in misunderstanding among the residents.

We thought about it and water supply through water meter was explored The bought out water will be supplied round the clock and the user will have to pay as per the consumption. Under this system water is metered through a water meter and the residents will pay at Rs 0.06 paise per litre. We implemented this project in May 04. Residents started getting water round the clock from June 1, 2004.

Bought water consumption used to be in the range of 24 to 29 tankers per month ie 288 KL to 348 KL per month. After installation of water meter water consumption drastically reduced to about 148 KL and bought 13 tanker loads of water in the subsequent month. Compare this to 29 tanker loads of water in May 04. The consumption of water has come down by about 50 %.

We found that the residents who collected water beyong their requirements in the 15 minutes time, were draining the unused water the next day. With assured supply for 24 hours, residents stopped storing of the water. Moreover the thought of paying for water made the residents conscious about consuming water.

For those of you living in apartment complexes (in Chennai and water scarce places in India), if you have not installed a water meter, think of installing water meters. Water wastage can be reduced.

4 Comments so far

  1. WA (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 3:22 am

    Interesting concept. Are these meters expensive to install?

  2. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 8:48 am

    There are 2 brands of Water Meter availabe in the market – Anand Asahi and Desh Nesh. Anand Asahi is made in Cochin by Anand Asahi Water Meters and Desh Nesh by a firm in Jallandhar. Anand Asahi – 1″ water meter costs around Rs 1100/- per piece and 3/4″ costs around Rs 810/- per piece. Cost of Desh Nesh will be cheaper by around Rs 300/- per piece. We went for Anand Asahi and is working well. The prices were as at May 2004. The price could be about 10% more. The water meters are available at Hardware shops at Errabalu Chetty Street, Chennai 600001. We bought from one Kalanjiam Hardware.

    The pipelines existing in the building could not support our plan of installing water meters. We ran a 2″ pipe in loop in the terrace and from this loop we connected pipes to individual flat through the water meter. Originally the idea was to give one point in the kitchen. But later on we connected the bathrooms also. The cost of providing one point in each flat worked out to about Rs 3000/- . Total estimate was Rs 110,000/- including labour. Residents were asked to contribute Rs 1500/- and balance Rs 1500/- was spent out of the Association Corpus Fund.Additional points were connected at the resident’s cost.

  3. vatsan (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 9:38 am

    this shud be usiversally applied by metrowater, am sure consumption wil drop

  4. Sankar (unregistered) on May 24th, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

    This is really great. The water meter will be definitely useful in making people conscious about consumption… just like electricity/telephones etc.

    A similar situation happened in our flats too. When water was given for a limited period each morning and evening, people store the water in each and every possible container. The next time the water is coming, they tend to dispose the existing water and refill again.
    Another problem is leaving the taps open. Since the water is not available during other times of the day, people forget and tend to leave the taps open. And when the water is supplied the next time and if they are not available at home, the water goes down the drain from the open taps.
    These two issues caused excess usage/wastage. Therefore, we had to install one more deep bore to have supply for 24 hrs.

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