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  • Origin: Where does the drinking water come from? What lakes or rivers are there? How often does it rain?
  • Availability: Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?
  • Infrastructure: How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?
  • Water usage: What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?
  • Projects: What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?
  • Opportunities and threats: What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?
  • Norms and regulations: How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?
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India

Average annual rainfall in India is about 1,083 millimetres 1. Precipitation mainly occurs in short bursts during the monsoon season and only in certain areas. Hence, the available rainfall is unevenly distributed in both time and space.

India is home to some of the world’s longest rivers. The major ones are:
  • Indus (length: 3,200km)
  • Brahmaputra (2,900km)
  • Ganges (2,600km)
  • Godavari (1,500km)
  • Yamuna (1,400km)
  • Sutlej (1,400km)
  • Narmada (1,300km)
  • Krishna (1,300km)
India relies heavily on groundwater for its irrigation and drinking water supply. Desalination is becoming more important as a steady water source, especially in coastal areas.
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Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?

Availability

In 2011, the total internal renewable water resources in India were 1,184 cubic metres per person 1, indicating water stress. 14 out of the 20 major river basins in India are already considered water-stressed 2.

India’s yearly surface water is estimated at around 1,900 billion cubic metres. However, only around a third can actually be used, since the rainfalls supplying surface water happen within a short space of time, and storage potential is limited 3.

Groundwater exploitation
Around 432 billion cubic metres of water per year comes from renewable groundwater 4. The regional situation regarding groundwater availability and exploitation varies greatly. Haryana and Punjab have exploited about 94 per cent of their groundwater resources 5, and in many parts exploitation rates have reached unsustainable levels.

Pollution in rivers is mainly caused by untreated wastewater discharged by India’s industries. This reduces the clean water supply significantly.


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How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?

Infrastructure

According to WHO estimates, access to an improved water source was 92 per cent and access to improved sanitation was 35 per cent in 2011 1.

India's water system is rather inefficient, with an estimated 41 per cent leakage rate and 119 cubic metres of water per kilometre of pipe that were lost every day in 2009 2.
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What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?

Water usage

At 761 billion cubic metres in 2011, India was the country with the largest rate of annual freshwater withdrawn in the world 1.

Groundwater provides 60 per cent of the water used for irrigation, and 85 per cent of drinking water supplies 2.

Domestic water use per person was estimated at 83 litres a day in 2009 3.


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What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?

Projects

The National Water Mission is one of eight missions to address climate change in India as part of a National Action Plan. The Mission's main objectives 1 are to:
  • Establish a comprehensive water database in the public domain and to assess the impact climate change has had on water resources.
  • Promote citizen and state action for water conservation, augmentation and preservation.
  • Focus attention on over-exploited areas.
  • Increase water use efficiency by 20 per cent.
  • Promote basin level integrated water resources management.

Water transfers between Indian river basins
Inter-basin transfers have for some time been viewed a means to bring water from the rivers to more arid areas of India 2. The idea of a national water grid was introduced in 1972 and has since been replaced by the Indian Rivers Inter-link project, the world's largest of its kind.

The 30 proposed canals linking different river systems in India are shown as red lines (see images to the right). Progress has been slow. In 2012, the Supreme Court called on the government to finish this ambitious project 3.

Free water for households in Delhi
Delhi's newly elected (and meanwhile resigned) chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has attracted controversy over his election promise to provide every household with 700 litres of water free of charge every day. Experts say that the amount is too large and could encourage wasteful water use 4. Government subsidies for the scheme have not been confirmed yet 5.


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Intercanal transfers India
India inter-basin transfers

What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?

Opportunities and Threats

India's water supply is already being stretched to its limit in order to meet demand. Economic growth and related phenomena such as increasing urbanisation and a growing population will add more stress.

Climate change will further aggravate the problem of water scarcity by causing more extreme rates of precipitation and evaporation. Droughts and floods will become more frequent as a result.

Most cities in India do not have a continuous water supply: some receive water only for a couple of hours every day, or even every other day. Interrupted water services are inconvenient at best, and pose a public health risk at worst.

Water quality issues

Poor water quality caused by pollution and lack of sewage is another tremendous concern. As The Economist reports, it is estimated that 50 per cent of hospital beds in India are occupied by people with waterborne diseases 1. Furthermore, India is among the 50 countries worldwide with the most frequent child deaths caused by waterborne diseases (316 per 100,000 children under five 2).

In a recent study, the World Bank estimated the costs (for health, lost opportunities in tourism etc.) incurred by India's inadequate sanitation at 2.4 trillion rupee (around 54 billion US$) per year 3.


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How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?

Norms and Regulations

Drinking water standard IS 10500 was established in 1983 and has been revised twice since.
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Authors

11:41, 01 Apr 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
11:18, 05 Mar 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
14:53, 02 Jan 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
14:52, 02 Jan 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
11:07, 06 Dec 2013Bianca F.Germany
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