The Bangalore Water Index

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What is the Bangalore Water Index?

The Bangalore Water Index project aims to develop a means of quantifying the 'water health' of the city. This published index will track a judiciously selected set of parameters relevant to the water domain, using data released by government bodies like the BWSSB, technical information provided by NGOs and research institutions, information extracted through RTIs, as well as crowdsourced feedback from citizens.

Over a period of time, the index will draw a comparative picture of the quality, quantity, accessibility and reliability of water supply across various demographics and parts of the city, as well the responsiveness and effectiveness of government bodies in charge.

Why do we need a Water Index?

If recent reports in the media are anything to go by, Bangalore is knee-deep in water issues. Because the problem is so broad and systemic, most of us have only a tenuous grasp over the totality of Bangalore's water situation. Without clear, consolidated data that takes different perspectives into account, it is difficult to define the full dimension of the city's water problem, and then propose effective solutions.

The Bangalore Water Index project is a step towards doing precisely that. The baseline Water Index number itself doesn't 'mean' anything. But over a period of time, the water index becomes an easy to grasp, meaningful representation of the city's water health, that can be used to identify key areas of concern and spark informed debate. As a tool to bring in accountability, it can reveal areas where responsible government bodies haven't achieved prescribed/expected standards of service. When conducted periodically, the Water Index can track changes in critical parameters to reveal the impact of programs and policies introduced by the government. Findings can then be used to identify specific issues that need to be addressed, and fuel focused advocacy efforts for reform.

A water index is also an effective way to ensure that citizen concerns find their way to the government. Most citizen complaints are anecdotal, and are typically lost in a sea of 'public noise'. Credible, objective, evidential data is much more impactful than anecdotal information. As a tool to enable citizen engagement, a water index can provide clear, real-time feedback that can be used by government officals to work towards immediate and effective remedy.

What outcomes do we seek as a result of the water index?

  • Clarity. Identification of key concern areas.
  • Increased citizen awareness and engagement. Empowered citizens, who act as watchdogs to monitor effectiveness of government policy.
  • Increase in government accountability and responsiveness. Increase in openness, collaboration with stakeholders, trust.
  • Focused analysis and advocacy.
  • More effective water solutions.

Let's get the obvious out of the way - this is definitely going to be a challenging, involved effort. However, as a starting point for civic education, engagement, informed debate and analysis, the Bangalore Water Index has the potential to be enormously powerful and relevant.

Interested folks - hop on board!


Nice idea

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 A couple of things to be considered

1. Let us keep a tab on lakes of Bangalore...

  Alive and kicking   , in trouble, disappeared/ing This will give us a state of the surface water bodies in Bangalore. We can , if necessary, add the quality of the water in each of the lakes.

2. The BWSSB has a list of number of borewells in the city - has crossed 100,000. Keeping a tab on the monthly growth of the figures will be great. This will enable us to push for some form of regulation and monitoring of groundwater in Bangalore

3. The city has made rainwater harvesting compulsory.  We have been trying to see how best it can be captured on google maps See this for a rainwater harvesting

4. We can work with the BWSSB to monitor number of households in each zone of the BWSSB and current coverage with connections. We can use this to push for universal coverage. This can be both for water supply and sanitation.

5. The BWSSB has a programme to cover some slums of Bangalore with individual connections. This was purported to be over 300. We can with BWSSB monitor the progress of this pro-poor work.

6. Keeping a tab on the water borne disease cases reported in government hospitals and Primary Health Centres on a monthly basis will show us the impacts of bad water and sanitation in Bangalore


Just some preliminary thoughts

6. The number of complaints received and rectified in every Water adalat of the BWSSB with possibly the nature of the complaints can be shown.

Interesting index

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To clarify, is it going to be one number (or percentage) based on (say) 25 different parameters? If yes, then there needs to be a base or reference point or year or standard. WHO standards may be a good starting point. Just like the prices in a particular year are fixed to calculate inflation percentage.

2-3 components

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First, borrowing from your email zenrainman sir:

1. Hours of supply 
2. Timing and reliability
3. Quality of the water (residual chlorine levels)
4. Pressure
5. Complaints attended within 48 hours
6. Connection of households to total households in a ward/zone
7. Sanitation coverage
8. Sewage flows in storm water drains

Then, Neha's thought on two parts

can categorize the parameters into two groups:

- Information that can be crowdsourced. Chlorine levels, etc are obviously not part of this. Hours of supply/Responsiveness to Complaints/Physical parameters, etc seem more relevant.
- Information we can collect from water authorities/ filing of RTIs.

Components continued

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Thinking aloud, pardon oversights please.

We can look at components in two ways.

A. Life cycle way (drawing analogy to electricity - generation, transmission, and supply)

  1. Water conservation, this would be sort of volume available to the city - what sources besides cauvery? Who is managing network of water reserviors around the city?
  2. Pumping till the city. Progress of Cauvery stage IV?
  3. Supply to citizens - hours of supply, pressure, leakage (can get from BWSSB?)
  4. Listing this separately - the quality of water in hand after generation/transmission/supply - complaints, responsiveness, cost.


B. Source or Quality of information way

  1. From BWSSB (supply data mostly)
  2. From technical/research houses. water table, rain water conservation, lake volume estimates
  3. From citizens (crowdsourced data)

 Once we think of above or any other way of components for this index, then it will be easier to divide work and think.

Water Matrix more suitable ?

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In preference to an 'index', it would probably be better to have a "Matrix" since there are far too many variable factors that do not mesh together easily at all. For eg. quality vs quantity, pressure vs availability, ground water table vs exploitation, harvesting vs rainfall, cost vs availability, sources vs distances to pump, etc.. In this respect, it cannot really be similar to inflation or cost of living or stock market indices.

Further, for reference, there has probably been no precedent for such an index in the past anywhere in the world (I'm guessing here, so if there is one somewhere out there, we might need to study it closely).

As regards Cauvery 4th stage 2nd phase, flwg is on the BWSSB webpage:

Cauvery Water Supply Scheme Stage Iv Phase-II has been taken up with Financial Assitance from Japan Bank for Inaternational Co-operation (RS. 2830 crores) at an estimated cost of Rs. 3383.70 crores. Governmaent of Karnataka has accorded Administrative approval to the scheme vide Go dated 08.06.2005. The schem consists of 13 Water Supply contract and 11 Sewerage Contract Packages apart from Distribution Improvement Component (UFW) and Management Improvement Component.


Preliminary preparation for CWSS stage IV Phase II have been completed with
funding arrangements from JBIC.Tendering of the project is scheduled for
2004 - 2005. Project is slated to be completed by 2009-2010. Total estimated cost of the Project is Rs.3200 Crores.

index it should be

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Hard job indeed but, need a simple, one number, or as few numbers as possible to convey water health of the city in simplest of ways.

If we go life cycle way, we could divide into 3 separate teams to prepare formula to build 3 separate numbers.

  1. Conservation/recharging/reserves
  2. Pumping from source to the city
  3. Cost/volume/quality of supply

Can prepare the eventual number from these 3 numbers. Am I making sense?

Time to revive this ...

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Shekhar moved out of Bengaluru, and, Some of those in this project team got busy, or some moved over to other public or underground :) projects like Namma Railu etc.

Time to revive this project?

  • May be scale down the goals to be realistic
  • Write the goals very clearly to attract more people
  • Start picturing the output, or even change it to something else if the index doesn't make sense. The idea is to track the water space in the city. We could simply track BWSSB, and do things like water day if that makes more sense or is easily doable :)

A lot of work has already happened, a lot of data has already been collected. About to time to re-build momentum. At least I am back on this, just re-joined the project.

 underground :) projects like

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 underground :) projects like Namma Railu

Underground!!! you make it sound like a cult group gone rogue :)

Fear not, BWI lives!

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Some of us have been working - albeit silently - on two parallel threads lately:

(1) Engaging with the BWSSB, creating detailed inquiry forms (will put these up for review).

(2) Creating infographs, mock indices with information already available/sourced.

Expect to hear much more about these threads these coming weeks, now that things look more tangible. 

Rebuilding momentum sounds good though, especially since there are a bunch of exciting ideas (crowdsourcing info, SB's Water Day idea, etc) waiting to be scooped up and implemented. How about a BWI regroup next weekend?

@ Neha sounds good, @IDS - underground projects ..

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@Neha Good idea. Let us do a a BWI team meet up next weekend, or Fri evening. Can meet at my house itself, more on email.

Hey, meanwhile - can someone help with a banner for the BWI project home page. Actually, a 960px wide banner, and a small logo (100 px wide) would be good, can help spruce up the project page and posts. And presentation template as well.

@IDS - I was referring to long dragging BMTC info and DriveWell day projects, those are sort of underground, not comfortable publishing till details are final.

Provide me the ideas for the banner!

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Provide me the concept and ideas for banner, I will try to get it done thru Tariq.


2 year old article on a water-reuse project of BWSSB

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"The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is set to break new ground in the Indian water reuse market. The Vrishabhavathi Valley project – the first of its kind undertaken by a water board in India – will see 300,000m3/d of sewage effluent undergo secondary treatment, half of which would then undergo tertiary treatment before being released into the Arkavathi river, where it will blend with fresh water. The combined flow will then be delivered to the T.G. Halli reservoir, where the water will be further treated before being distributed to the city of Bangalore.

The 147,000m3/d ultrafiltration plant at the core of the project is planned to be built at the Tavarekere pumping station at a cost of INR474 crores (USD112 million). The scheme is scheduled to be completed by 2011."

Source: http://www.globalwaterint...


Does anyone know anything about this?

@sehkhar: check this

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This presentation refers to secodary and tertiary treatment plants int he Vreishabhavati valley. But unsure if it is the same one or a different one.

Either ways, this looks like a good project to follow-up on...