The report titled 'Riding the Wave' was released by Suresh Prabhu, global ambassador of Global Water Partnership at a conference in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The survey has also pointed out that Kolkata has the weakest 'working ratio' in performance of water utilities followed by Jaipur and Delhi. The working ratio assesses performance of water utilities in terms of operational efficiencies, financial health and stability.
However, cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru have healthier 'working ratios' indicating better performance of water utilities. Key highlights of the report suggest more than 60% of the households in major Indian cities are water-deficient and that industrial water consumption to increase four-fold by 2050. It also says distribution losses due to leakage in water supply are as high as 35%-50%.
Against this backdrop, arresting distribution leakage losses by an average of 10% across India will reduce the production cost of equivalent water supply by Rs 5.5 billion the report says.
India's growing population, coupled with service inefficiencies on the supply side, has resulted in a steady decline in per capita availability of water in the country, which is currently estimated to be in the water-stressed range.
It is projected that this will drop by more than 50% to water scarcity by 2050. Additionally, the quality of water in many parts of the country indicates high level of organic and bacterial contamination in surface water and of pollutants such as fluoride, nitrate and arsenic in ground water.
The above factors spell the urgent need of an effective water management system that will not just solve our current water problems but also have a solution for the fulfillment of future demand.
Chaitanya Kalia, Partner - Advisory Services (Climate Change & Sustainability), Ernst & Young said: "One of the factors responsible for water scarcity in major Indian cities is the absence of sewage treatment capacities, which are as low as 30% of the total waste-water generated. This significantly increases the quantity of non-utilizable water. To effectively address water scarcity issues in India, stakeholders need to shift to and drive new paradigms of sustainable water resource management."
The report has recommended development of an effective water management strategy. With India facing increasing water scarcity issues and challenges today, there is a need to adopt water management approaches that are specific to the regional context and inclusive of all stakeholders, ie, approaches that are based on the principles of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM).
There is also a need to bring about reforms in water pricing with the aim to maximize the efficiency of water usage. Such reforms require a shift towards market-based instruments such as water trading, recycled water certificates and designing of effective water tariffs. It also says private sector is critical for the transformation of water usage in a country.