Urban water supply has emerged as an ever-growing challenge in India with gap between water demand and supply widening continuously. There is deficiency of water supply infrastructure both in terms of coverage and quality. Despite attempts by Union and State Governments to mobilize financial investments; upgrading the water infrastructure; bring in sectoral reforms and improve governance in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), the situation has been worsening with the unabated pace of urbanisation.
Hyderabad is one such urban city in India spread over an area of 625 sq. km with a population of 7.67 million (Census 2011). Water supply and sewage disposal services to the citizens of Hyderabad are provided by Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewage Board (HMWSSB) which was constituted by erstwhile Andhra Pradesh Government as per the HMWSSB Act no.15 of 1989. HMWSSB taps raw water from distant sources, such as Manjeera (a tributary of Godavari River), Krishna and Godavari Rivers and supplies, on average, 450 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) to Hyderabad city (HMWSSB 2016). Growing population and expanding habitations forced the HMWSSB to take huge financial burden for expanding its water supply distribution network to new areas. On the other hand its balance sheets suffer from mounting costs of water transport, treatment and supply of drinking water from distant river sources.
HMWSSB provides water supply connections to different categories of consumers such as domestic, commercial, industrial and bulk water supply. Bulk water supply category is defined as supply of water in bulk quantities to a residential colony, gram panchayat, municipality, institution or an agency, which in turn distributes the water to the residents and other consumers in their respective service area. In the case of bulk supply to residential colonies, the respective Residential Welfare Association (RWA) assumes the responsibility of water supply to individual households. There are many RWAs receiving bulk water supply from the HMWSSB (against a payment of Rs.10-13 per kilo litre) and efficiently distributing the water to their residents without making any revenue losses. With limited direct contact with few RWAs, it was found that each RWA typically serve 300 to 400 households in their colonies. These RWAs maintain their own water storage reservoirs within their respective colonies and provide individual tap connections to their households. Primary data collected from nine RWAs revealed that they are operating very efficiently with NRW at around 4% and RR at 100%.
In this connection, a detailed field study on two RWAs (Vayupuri Colony-Sainikpuri and Jal Vayu Vihar-Kukatpally) was carried out by Water and Livelihoods Foundation (WLF). Two M.A. (Public Policy and Governance) students (Niba T.N and Sanjana Vengalil) from Ajim Premji University, Bangalore participated in this study as interns and contributed significantly in the field studies and data analysis. The study was carried out during the period April-June 2017.
The study found that both the RWAs engaged handling bulk supply from the HMWSSB and distribution of domestic water to their colony residents have been playing their role in a professional manner; have acquired the technical and managerial capacities over time; and are in fore-front in using data collection and computational techniques for efficient operations. Due to systematic management, closer over-sight and commitment to the task, both the RWAs achieved higher efficiency levels in delivery of water supply services to their colony residents. Preliminary analysis of field data indicate that there is potential for this model to be replicated elsewhere in the Hyderabad city for reduced non-revenue water; improved revenue recovery and better over-all service delivery to its citizens.