1. Clean water is an essential component of healthy environment, to support life system. 97% of the global water resources are locked up in oceans, estuaries & marshes, making it unusable due to salinity. Of the balance 3% available fresh water 2.5% is trapped in the form of snow and ice. Thus, all that is available for human use and of course for animals as well is nearly 0.5% of total surface water. Population growth, climate change, overuse/misuse of water & pollution of available water are principal causes of the present water crisis.
  2. Irrigation accounts for 80% of Indian use of fresh water. Farmers use water less efficiently and withdraw more water to compensate for water losses. Out of this 60% of water is used inefficiently by farmers.
  3. It is seen that this scarce resource of water supply is being over exploited much beyond the daily requirement leading to wastage and pollution of ground water. Major causes of water pollution are human waste, industrial wastes, chemicals, fertilizers & pesticides used for farming. We have been pumping out ground water faster than the aquifers can recharge. Thus, the ground water level is depleting fast. In view of the above, water conservation and optimum utilization of available water is the urgent need of the hour


  1. In Punjab, the ground water levels are fast diminishing due to excessive pumping of ground water and inefficient water distribution system. Much of the municipal water supply is lost before it reaches consumers, leaking out of water mains, pipes, faucets or disappearing through illegal taps. In plain terms as far as fresh water is concerned, we have been living way beyond our means.
  2. The Punjab Water Supply & Sewerage Board (PWSSB) is the nodal agency for planning, designing and execution of water supply schemes in the State of Punjab. All designs of water supply distribution executed by the department are based on zones and Over Head Service Reservoirs (OHSRs). However, over the years by reacting to situations and constant crisis management, all the water supply distribution zones have got disturbed and most of the existing OHSRs are not being utilized. Further, the excess pumped out ground water, in absence of city drainage system, either gets collected in low-lying areas or overloads the city sewerage system. Thus the existing system is wasteful and leads to pollution. Further, there is excessive and haphazard construction of tube-wells resulting in over expenditure, inefficiency and general dissatisfaction among users.
  3. The main disadvantages of the present system are:
    1. Number of tube-wells being utilized is many times more than the actual requirement.
    2. Most of the OHSRs lie unutilized.
    3. Wastage of water ranges between 40 to 50%.
    4. Huge electricity bill (nearly 3 to 4 times).
    5. Large expenditure on Operation & Maintenance of tube-wells (machinery and equipment).
    6. Large establishment required for manning and operation.
    7. Chlorination of water supply at every tube-well is economically unviable/prohibitive.


  1. Thus to improve the existing water supply distribution system, there is a need to revert back to the basics of engineering practices prevalent in this field. All municipalities in towns/cities need to adopt following steps:
    1. Distribute the town/city in distribution zones.
    2. Optimise use of existing OHSRs.
    3. Each zone to have one or two OHSRs for reserve capacity and peak load demands.
    4. Each OHSR should have two or three tube-wells within 500 meter radius.
    5. Chlorination should be done preferably at OHSR or the active tube-wells.
    6. Balance tube-wells should be capped, kept as reserve and utilized, wherever required.
    7. The method of gravity flow from OHSRs and pumping should be utilized since the available OHSR capacity is 15-30% in OHSRs at present.
    8. Proper maintenance and operation procedure for water supply including pipelines, tube-wells and OHSRs should be in place.
    9. Cater for 30% reserve in all above aspects.
  2. This will have following advantages:
    1. Ensure satisfactory water supply to general public.
    2. Reduce water wastage.
    3. Reduce electricity bill.
    4. Reduce expenditure on O&M of water supply system.
    5. Reduce flooding and overloading of sewers and STPs.
    6. Efficient chlorination of drinking water.
    7. User satisfaction.


  1. In view of the above, it is necessary that all towns and cities are distributed in various water supply distribution zones as already planned and designed by PWSSB. All disturbed zones due to temporary connections with additional tube-wells need to be restored and made functional. This should start in phases by handling the zone where presently water supply problems exist and there is general dissatisfaction among the general public. Each zone should utilize the gravity and pumping method for supply of water within the zone. The existing OHSRs at present only cover 15 to 50% of the total requirement of water in a zone. Thus, the method of releasing water from OHSRs as well as direct pumping from tube-well will be ideally suited. Further, the zonal water supply distribution system should comprise one OHSR with 2-3 tube-wells located within 500 meters of the overhead tank. Two tube-wells would fill the OHSR by direct pumping in a span of 4-6 hours. Thereafter, the water supply during the laid down timing should be made by combination of releasing the water from overhead tanks by operating sluice valve and also direct pumping from the tube-wells. This method will ensure that the minimum residual pressure on each point is approximately 17 meters which is adequate for a 3-storeyed building.
  2. Therefore, if a town has 15 zones catered by OHSRs and tube-wells, the requirement of tube-wells will be approximately 30 to 45 tube-wells, after catering for one reserve tube-well for each zone. Whereas at present, in most of the towns and cities of Punjab, the number of existing tube-wells is 2-4 times more than the actual requirement. Thus, the system has inherent disadvantages that chlorination of water at each tube-well is not possible. If this has to be done, then it is of economically prohibitive.


  1. Widespread dissatisfaction among consumers is the result of improperly managed water supply system. Where people are forced to resort to alternate means or supplementary sources for collection of water through private tube-wells and water tankers. It is also because nearly 40% of the total flow is lost due to leakages in water supply mains and distribution supply pipes. The need for according high priority in maintenance, leakage detection and preventive measures is obvious.
  2. It is mandatory that all Municipal Corporations/Councils/ Committees/Nagar Panchayats implement the proposed water supply distribution system in a phased manner in next 2-3 months. This will lead to better user satisfaction, efficient water supply, reduction in wastages of water, proper chlorination, reduction in O&M cost and establishment. Thus, it will be a win-win situation for both the service providers as well as the users. This method should be enforced even when the O&M for water supply in Corporation Towns is outsourced to a Service Provider Vendor (SPV) and/or becomes the responsibility of PWSSB for other towns.