There has been a rapid decrease in the groundwater recharge duration for many states in India, despite tumultuous monsoons. The importance of water conservation in homes has been more apparent than ever before, and this calls for home plumbing and water supply solutions to be improved towards this purpose.

Reports suggest that there has been a significant drop in rainfall in seven states in 30 years, namely UP, West Bengal, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya. Apart from these states, many other parts of India have also witnessed a rising number of days of drought despite the monsoons, adversely impacting the groundwater recharge in these regions.

As per an earlier NITI Aayog report, 21 Indian cities – including Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad – may face Day Zero scenarios in 2020, when city taps could run completely dry. If such situations become a ground reality, water riots may erupt in water-starved areas.

Water conservation in washrooms

Water scarcity could be averted or mitigated if the country implements water-management steps on an emergency basis. Backed by proper planning and management, states with water scarcity can move steadily towards water security. In water conservation, Israel is one of the world’s shining examples. This tiny nation has established an extremely efficient system of water storage, supply and conservation, thanks to which, it can function even without rainfall.

In combatting water shortage, measures such as rainwater harvesting, conservation and rejuvenation of water bodies, water management measures, etc are all implemented. There is one vital area of water management that, typically, escapes attention – washrooms. For example, just a single flush can expend anywhere between eight and 20 litres of water, if not more. The ones especially liable to misuse, are public washrooms or restrooms.  

Yet, given the availability of smart plumbing solutions, this need not necessarily be the case. Through smart technology, efficient and minimal use of water in washbasins and commodes can be ensured. This can be done by building technology equipped washrooms, which help in promoting sustainable water use and conservation. What’s more, both water and energy could be saved by means of these washrooms. The main objective of such measures is maximising the efficiency of water via sustainable restroom solutions.

The criticality of water conservation cannot be overemphasised. Across India, more than a dozen states have been labelled as drought-affected. In reality, 54 percent of the nation is already confronting water stress that is alarmingly high. The mismatched demand-and-supply ratio is a cause for deep concern. According to a NITI Aayog report, while demand for water stood at 634 billion cubic metres in 2008, the supply was 650 billion cubic metres. By 2030, however, the overall demand will be 1,498 billion cubic metres against the supply of 744 billion cubic metres only. In other words, the water shortfall will exceed 50 percent.

Currently, the country’s annual use stands at 7,610 billion cubic metres. As per studies, major water usage in households happens while flushing the toilet, followed by water usage in showers. Not just India, in the past two decades, water consumption worldwide has doubled.

Office buildings, hotels, motels, hospitals and schools are also prone to wasteful usage of water. In schools, 45 percent usage occurs in restrooms, 25 percent in landscaping, 20 percent in heating and cooling systems and 10 percent in the kitchen. In office buildings, restrooms and other domestic uses account for 40 percent, heating or cooling 28 percent and landscaping 22 percen. Likewise, the toilet consumes 26.7 percent in residential indoor water usage while washing clothes follows at 21.7 percent.

Smart flushing solutions

Against this backdrop, deploying smart technology is best for water savings in areas of maximum consumption. Additionally, such solutions should be sustainable – supporting water conservation while ensuring lower carbon footprints. Such sustainable restroom solutions are available via smart plumbing systems.

Water-efficient plumbing assumes greater significance as rural families from underdeveloped areas live on less than 11 litres of water per day. Conversely, people in urban regions routinely flush around the same quantity on each visit to the toilet. In boosting efficient usage of water, urban families must shift from manual to sensor-based flush tanks.

Today, a range of water-efficient flushometer valves can be installed, which use at least 20 percent less water compared to traditional systems. Such flushometer valves are available which use 4 litres of water in a single flush, and savee 25-30 percent in comparison to an innovative dual-flush flushing system. Further, sensor-based urinals save 88 percent more water than manual ones. And water-free urinals offer 100 percent water savings while reducing repair and maintenance expenses too. Next come hybrid urinals, eliminating the water flush via the integration of an automatic drain-line purge.

Another excellent water-saving option – automatic-sensor faucets, which also boost hygiene and restroom aesthetics. Unlike conventional valves, these save almost 60 percent more water. Then come battery or solar-powered faucets, offering 40 percent more water savings than regular faucets. Sink-integrated faucets having adjustable flow rates are still better, saving up to 67 percent water while up to 20 percent reduced water usage is possible through automatic showerheads.

Considering the array of extremely-efficient, water-saving plumbing options available, India could emerge as a more water-secure nation if all public, private and residential structures use such smart systems.