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Quantification of Municipal Water Supply and Role of Metering in Large Indian Cities

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
B. Building capacity
Author(s): Pankajkumar Sampat
Pankajkumar Sampat

Keyword(s): Quantification, Account, Management, Efficiency, Optimum, ULB
Article: Oral:


This research explores the nature of ‘Quantification’ in domestic water supply system, roles of metering in controlling Unaccounted for Water (UFW) and their linkages to the water accounting. ‘Quantification’ means a complete process of measurement, which includes working out measurements of water at various stages and recording it in the table or account to the size of Urban Local Body (ULB). 

This research inclines towards the active management approach and aims to provide insights about the types of information and analysis needed for efficient management.

Domestic water supply in India needs attention on both, adequacy and quality. Adequacy can be addressed by improving system efficiency in a cost effective manner. The evidence, however, points to inefficiencies in water management for leak detection and UFW up to 42%. This is the state of affairs in spite of sophisticated metering systems and a considerably good database in Bangalore city. Despite several actions taken by Bangalore Water Supply And Sewerage Board (BWSSB), this continues without a change as there is a lack of proper water accounts and little political concern on such issues.  Meanwhile, in Ahmedabad, a city without metering for water and poor database leads to a failure in controlling high UFW- 40%. This results in inefficient financial recovery and a low operating ratio. Policies on water management must be based on the idea that accountability breeds responsibility.

Given the need for efficiency earlier, the real issue is how to address responsibility in distribution to control major water losses. A practical and viable alternative is to properly quantify the water supplied with or without metering. This can be done by two methods- Tabulation and Accounting. The tabulation method is simple but has limitations of day wise accounting and cannot generate flow estimates; these can be omitted in the accounting method.   

The Sample water account shows that the Stock and Flow theory is the base for detailed water accounting and can be done in line with financial accounting. United Nations has developed Standard Economic-Environmental Accounting (SEEA) structure for physical and monetary applications of the various natural resources including water. 

This study endorses the fact that metering helps in setting up a reasonable tariff, billing and collection mechanism but proper pipe network design-District Metering Area (DMA) and quantified data are required to address accountability and to control UFW and role of metering is important but limited in terms of system reform. Alternative methods of measurement and statistical techniques for approximations appeared useful on an appropriate reliability scale.

The large cities depends on regional water sources which are part of the larger environment and state economy, transformation process of from a non-metered to metered water supply system is a long-term process. A sample water account was developed following United Nations Standard Economic-Environmental Accounting (SEEA) (United Nations, 2014). Integrated Water Accounting Platform-IWAP was conceptualized as a tool. Modelling of water use plan, developing IWAP following UN SEEA methodology is meaningful. The study points to a multidisciplinary approach being useful for successful implementation.

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