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CEPT Research & Development Foundation (CRDF)

Research Study on Urban Wastewater Reuse in Maharashtra

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Research Study

About The Project

The Centre for Water and Sanitation (CWAS) at CEPT University has collaborated extensively with the Urban Development Department and Maharashtra Government, focusing on urban water and sanitation for over a decade. In 2021, India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) 2.0, emphasizing liquid waste management in cities. This mission highlights the need for environmental, social, and financial sustainability in urban sanitation, with cities tasked with developing wastewater treatment and reuse solutions. This is particularly challenging in smaller towns, where infrastructure is often inadequate. The Maharashtra Government is exploring effective wastewater reuse, especially in towns with populations under 100,000. CWAS proposed a study to identify challenges in wastewater reuse in smaller cities, considering policy and project-level interventions. 


The CRDF appointed UIL to undertake the following tasks: 

  • Policy and Regulatory Ecosystem Review: Examining current policies for urban wastewater reuse in residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors. This includes analyzing government resolutions and reviewing water tariffs and supply arrangements. National schemes like AMRUT and SBM 2.0 are also considered. 

  • Wastewater Reuse Potential Assessment: Assessing urban water demand and supply, wastewater generation, treatment, and reuse possibilities. This involves geographic and market size analysis and examining ongoing STP projects. 

  • Use Cases and Examples: Investigating wastewater reuse cases in small and medium-sized towns, covering business models, technology, and institutional frameworks. This includes examples from various sectors and reviewing previous CWAS studies. 

  • Implementation Opportunities and Barriers: Identifying opportunities and challenges in wastewater reuse, including policy, technology, financial, and institutional aspects. The team will review the impact of tariff structures on wastewater reuse and gather insights from various stakeholders. 

  • Wastewater Reuse Strategy and Roadmap: Proposing options for wastewater reuse, considering various factors like nature of reuse, city size, agroclimatic zones, and contract structures. The roadmap's applicability will be discussed with key stakeholders. 

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Services Provided

UIL conducted a comprehensive analysis of India's water security in the context of global water challenges, utilizing reports from WRI and Niti Aayog. This included a review of literature from UNEP, KfW, and ADB, highlighting the health, environmental, and economic impacts of poorly managed wastewater. Global case studies, including those from UAE and Qatar, where over 80% of wastewater is reused, were examined. Additionally, UIL reviewed cases from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Maharashtra, analyzing incidents and resulting fines totaling Rs. 12,000 crores, emphasizing the need for effective wastewater management. 


The team also assessed the constitutional provisions related to water management in India, including the 7th and 12th Schedules, emphasizing wastewater as a state subject and outlining the roles of central and state governments. A financial analysis of state budgets revealed the inadequacy of sewerage/drainage tax in covering the costs for wastewater treatment. A chronological analysis of policies, acts, and programs at national and state levels related to urban wastewater management was conducted, with a specific focus on AMRUT 2.0 and SBM 2.0. A matrix identifying various functions and institutional responsibilities at national, state, and local levels was created, highlighting functional gaps. 


The Maharashtra State Water Policy 2019, which mandates recycling 30% of wastewater, was reviewed in detail. The analysis pointed out several gaps, such as the lack of operational infrastructure for collection and treatment, incentives for industries, quality assurance of treated water, prioritization of projects, and clarity in roles of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and financial resources. 


UIL analyzed the wastewater market in India and globally, estimating the Indian market at USD 2.4 billion in 2019, projected to grow to USD 4.3 billion by 2025. A comparative study of Maharashtra and India revealed that only 4% of wastewater is reused in Maharashtra, highlighting an over-reliance on outdated technologies. The team also conducted a geographical analysis of water demand and scarcity using GIS, identifying priority districts for action. 


The cost analysis of wastewater treatment using various technologies revealed that treatment is often cheaper than sourcing fresh water from distant locations. However, the absence of mechanisms to control groundwater withdrawal undermines the economic rationale for wastewater reuse. 


International case studies from Florida, Mexico, Barcelona, Namibia, Jordan, Japan, and others, along with Indian case studies, were reviewed to understand different reuse models and technologies. Parameters like land, finance, infrastructure, technology, and social acceptance were examined. 


A comprehensive stakeholder consultation involving over 200 participants and 18 hours of discussions with various organizations identified key issues and challenges in wastewater management. The consultations led to recommendations categorized into policy, infrastructure, finance, tariffs, institutional structure, reuse practices, and environmental and social considerations. 


A strategic roadmap was developed, focusing on increasing reuse levels from 4% to 40% and improving collection and treatment. Thirteen strategic themes were identified, covering infrastructure, institutional frameworks, technology, environmental protection, education, and monitoring. A financing and resource mobilization plan was proposed, estimating a capital outlay of Rs. 19,000 crores and operational expenses of Rs. 2,500 crores. The roadmap also addressed GST implications and proposed a State Reuse Mission and wastewater management rules, along with an institutional structure for a state-level committee and assessment of carbon savings potential from implementing wastewater reuse recommendations. 

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