In the short term, the drinking water provision in rural India can most benefit from the use of household water treatment systems. KWR is involved in the testing of such systems for the World Health Organization (WHO). Over the longer term, centralised water treatment is the better option, provided it’s based on the Watershare QMRA Treatment Calculator and is connected to a reliable distribution system. These are the conclusions of the Water4India project, in which KWR applied advanced risk-management methods and sensitive water-quality analyses.
India needs a better water provision
Supplying enough freshwater, of a quality appropriate for human consumption, is becoming more and more of a challenge in India. The country’s growing wealth and population not only increase water consumption, but also the importance of protecting public health through the application of drinking water quality standards. India therefore has a strong need for initiatives and projects to improve its current drinking water situation.
EU Water4India project
KWR participated in the EU’s Water4India project, aimed at optimising and implementing technological alternatives for the provision of drinking water in the Indian countryside. KWR concentrated on the management of health risks in a rural environment. The World Health Organization’s Water Safety Plan approach provided a good foundation for the risk management. In India, KWR showed how advanced risk management approaches, developed for more developed countries like the Netherlands, can also be implemented in the complicated conditions of developing countries. In India as well, Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment, based on local information and knowledge, offered insight into the relative importance of the different paths of water contamination. In the short run, these risks can only be reduced through effective water treatment at the point where the water is used, with so-called Household Water Treatment (HWT) Systems. As a WHO Collaborating Centre, KWR tests the effectiveness of these systems. For the long term, it would be more efficient and effective to establish a centralised water treatment system, based on the Watershare QMRA Treatment Calculator and connected to a reliable distribution system, instead of using household water treatment.
Continuation of the collaboration
In a collaboration with the Bhavan laboratory in Mumbai, KWR conducted an advanced and sensitive water-quality analysis, which detected the presence of pathogenic protozoa in drinking water sources. Since these microorganisms are very resistant to traditional chlorine disinfection, there is a need to switch to alternative disinfection methods that involve multiple barriers to the contaminants. The collaboration with Bhavan’s College will continue in the form of doctoral research into the application of QMRA in the water provision in Indian slums.