Water Supply issues have become the talk of almost every Association this Summer.
Here is a 12 point Checklist for an Integrated Approach to Sustainable Water Management in Apartments. The Checklist was authored by S.Vishwananth of RainwaterClub. This was also a handout in the Water Workshop conducted by ADDA for Apartment Owners Associations, in collaboration with the RainwaterClub. The Checklist is being re-published here due to popular demand from Associations.
Apartments are the new reality of urban living. One of the key challenge is to meet the water supply demand to keep all the amenities working. Here is a small checklist that apartment owners, associations and builders need to keep in mind so that the taps in the flats do not run dry.
1. Since multiple- sourcing will be the order of the day, make sure that the sustainability of sources are kept in mind
when connecting systems. In simple terms will water continue to come from the main pipelines? Will the bore-wells continue to give good quality of water for the next 20 years? Is the apartment designed well for water tankers to come in and empty their loads systematically without disturbing the residents or the neighbourhood?
2. Is there individual metering for each flat? Nobody likes to pay for the consumption of others? Individual metering to each flat rewards water conservation and punishes excess use. This should become the rule rather than the exception.
3. Are the landscapes designed to be water efficient? The beautiful lawns and the exotic flowers are a delight to watch but can be huge water guzzlers. Is the landscape designed for water efficiency and less water consumption? Is treated waste water supply of the right quality available for the landscape at all times?
4. Is there a good leak detection system in the water distribution network? Leaks can be surprisingly large and if undetected can cause huge water losses. Is there a system of metering and measuring at wholesale and retail levels to ensure that leaks are detected and fixed at regular intervals?
5. Is there a good facility manager who is trained in water and wastewater management systems? Unless the right skills are available it will be impossible to manage water systems such as the swimming pool, the landscape, the fire fighting systems, the wastewater treatment and reuse systems et al. In short without a well trained setup the system will collapse over time
6. Is there a good waste water treatment and reuse system which is easy to operate, easy to repair and which reuses the bulk of waste water for non-potable purpose such as toilet flushing and landscape demands?
7. Is the rainwater and storm-water harvesting system designed well and in compliance of the law? Do they turn around the entire apartment block to a ‘zero runoff’ area and harvest every drop of rain?
8. Are the bore wells metered and monitored for quality and quantity? Is there a maintenance system for the bore –wells? Is there a detailed hydro-geological data and the bore-well log sheet available with the water facility manager?
9. Is the water treatment system designed for BIS 10500 standard, the drinking water standard for India? Is the rejects of a R.O system dealt with and disposed off carefully?
10. Are all the devices in the bathroom, kitchen and other water use areas the most water efficient in the business? Are all taps, showers, flushes, WC’s, of high quality and water efficient?
11. Is the entire water and energy system well understood by the maintenance people? Are all pumps optimised for energy use and water delivery?
12. Does the community meet often to discuss their water report card and become a water and environment literate community? In building the right communities and transferring the right knowledge through practice to the younger generation will we build a resilient and just society.
Conclusion: Apartments represent a special challenge to community living where decisions have to be arrived at in consensus. Apart from the leadership and team building skills involved, having the right personnel and the right advice can make all the difference to a healthy and peaceful living. While the value of water as a part of the monthly maintenance bill may be negligible, the right value of water only emerges, as Benjamin Franklin famously said, when the wells or taps run dry.