OpEd Analysis – Water Crisis further stressed by Thermal Power

OpEd Analysis - Water Crisis further stressed by Thermal Power

Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) :-

The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by the NITI Aayog, which was released this June, shows that 600 million people face high to extreme water stress in India.

The report, which was published in association with the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Rural Development, places India at a dismal 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. It predicts that a persistent water crisis will lead to an eventual 6% loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030.

The CWMI report covers these broad themes —

  • Ground water and Surface-water restoration
  • Major and Medium irrigation
  • Watershed development
  • Participatory irrigation management
  • On-farm water use
  • Rural and Urban water supply
  • Policy and Governance.

What are the issues ?

  • A significant key to this stress is the vast gulf — of about 1498 billion cubic metres (BCM) versus 744 BCM — that has been predicted between the demand and supply of fresh water, by 2030.
  • In the projections that the Central Water Commission (CWC) released in 2015, the sector-wise requirement of water (that is, for drinking and domestic use, industry and energy) will rise steeply between 2030 and 2050. This mounting rise in demand is starkly evident in the energy sector, the share of water consumed by this sector was 0.62% in 2010, which is pegged to rise up to 1.37% in 2030 and 8.98% in 2050.

The projected water demand of the energy sector makes it an important point for the NITI Aayog to consider while bringing out future iterations of the CWMI.

Now why these issues are unavoidable ?

As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), March 2018, thermal electricity accounts for more than 86% of India’s total power generation. Analysis shows that 77% of India’s total electricity comes from thermal power plants that are dependent on freshwater sources & Of all the freshwater-cooled thermal plants, 38.9% of generation capacity is installed in areas with high or extremely high water-stress. By 2030, more than 70% of India’s existing thermal power utilities are likely to experience an increased level of water competition from agricultural, urban, and other industrial demands.

What are the issues related to data has been raised by CWMI ?

The CWMI also raises three main issues related to data :-

  • Limited coverage
  • Unreliable data
  • Limited coordination and sharing.

What needs to be done to measure water consumption by power plants ?

Measuring water consumption by power plants has been a challenge for long. However, it can easily be tackled by :-

  • Using the existing CEA reporting mechanism for daily generation. Daily water withdrawal and consumption reporting should be mandated. These can be measured with existing technology and added into this reporting framework.
  • Such information will also help in implementation of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Notification (dated December 7, 2015), which mandates specific water consumption norms for existing and new thermal power plants.
  • Information about water stress, power plant siting (location) and so on must be shared seamlessly across departments – a service that the CWMI could perform.

Conclusion :- Factoring in the water-energy nexus linkages, especially the metrics around power plant water withdrawal and consumption, will only help make the Index better and the States better prepared to manage their water and power resources.

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