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Unlocking wastewater treatment, water re-use and resource recovery opportunities for urban and peri-urban areas in India

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PAVITRA GANGA (Unlocking wastewater treatment, water re-use and resource recovery opportunities for urban and peri-urban areas in India)

Reporting period: 2020-08-01 to 2022-01-31

The core of Pavitra Ganga is to tackle the major environmental challenges in India, especially the dead rivers, considering the limited economic resources for wastewater treatment. In collaboration with local stakeholders and supported by industrial partners we have been setting up a new pilot site at the Jajmau wastewater treatment plant at Kanpur and extending the pilot site testing at the Barapullah Drain (New Delhi). The pilot testing evaluates the performance innovative wastewater treatment and resource recovery technologies. In addition, smart water management tools (monitoring and modelling) are being evaluated for the two case areas to improve the management and planning of water resources, as well as to assess the potential impact of the wastewater treatment and resource recovery technologies. The issues around water governance are also tackled to identify the factors and the barriers to successful wastewater and resource recovery management, as well as develop protocols for wastewater safety planning. The overall objective of PAVITRA GANGA is to fulfil SDG6 by unlocking the environmental and economic potential of municipal wastewater treatment and reuse solutions for urban and peri-urban areas in India. This is achieved by the following specific research and innovation objectives: create policy and social support for innovative technologies through stakeholder engagement (WP2); evaluate & improve promising wastewater treatment, reuse and recovery technologies at lab scale (WP3); deliver smart water quality monitoring & modelling solutions for two case areas (WP4); demonstrate and validate innovative technologies in real Indian wastewater settings at pilot scale (WP5); establish long lasting cooperation in capacity building and knowledge sharing (WP6); establish future market uptake and post-project exploitation of the demonstrated technologies (WP7); and, communicate and disseminate the project activities and outcomes (WP8).
The project struggled to achieve the objectives and deliverables expected during the last 2 years due to global COVID-19 pandemic, this led to a series of lockdowns and restrictions in EU Member States and India. The deleterious effects of the cycles of restrictions and easing of restrictions has resulted in delays to the procurement of equipment (sensors) and pilots, the periodic closures of laboratories and the lack of access rights to wastewater, and restrictions on field work and travel. Despite these barriers to working efficiently the project has managed to keep up with the expected timing and content of the deliverables, even if some deliverables are first drafts and will have to be updated during the last period of the project.

"WP2 Governance, stakeholder engagement and policy support" has been fully active despite the COVID 19 restrictions by reverting to on-line group meetings and bilateral meetings with key stakeholders in the two case areas. This has been far from ideal, but it has meant that the Project has been able to engage successfully with stakeholders to enable the social network and stakeholder analyses to be carried out. In addition a peer-reviewed article was submitted and published in the open-access journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Elsevier: "Perceived drivers and barriers in the governance of wastewater treatment and reuse in India: Insights from a two-round Delphi study" (doi: Https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2022.106285). "WP3 Treatment and recovery technologies" has been fully active, when it was possible. All technology providers had started up the laboratory work in Europe and at IIT Kanpur during the First Reporting Period, but during the Second Reporting Period the work was hampered by successive cycles of restrictions and lifted restrictions to laboratories and access to wastewater. Despite this, the researchers have been steadfast in restarting laboratory experiments, when necessary, to make progress. The main work moving forwards for WP3 is to do further laboratory testing to support the work of the piloting (WP5) – it is expected therefore that once the pilots are up and running that a series of optimising tests at the laboratory will be required to direct adjustments to the pilots during the Third Reporting Period. WP4 Water monitoring, modelling and control has been fully active, when it was possible, focusing on the regional water balance modelling and scenario assessments and starting up the spatial monitoring using mobile sensors. The next modelling steps will be to include Regional Climate Change scenarios to complement the other scenarios already established. A demonstration of citizen based, participatory monitoring of basic water quality parameters in villages has been planned to take place in March 2022 at three villages close to Kanpur – two villages receiving partially treated wastewater for irrigation and a control village not irrigating with partially treated wastewater. WP5 On-site piloting and performance evaluation has been fully active, when it was possible, to prepare the innovation sites to receive the technologies, designing and procuring the pilot technologies from service providers, assessing the water characterisation of the raw water (at New Delhi and Kanpur) and the treated effluent (at Kanpur) and establishing the analytical protocols. The innovation sites are now ready to receive the pilots that have been procured. The expectation is that the pilots will be up and running by April / May 2022. The analytical protocols were already established for standard water quality measurements and heavy metals. During the Second Reporting Period progress has been made to establish the analytical protocols for micro organic pollutants (i.e. use of the LC/MS equipment) – although this is not completely ready. W7 EU-India Business Platform has been fully active, when it was possible. The proposed road map to exploit the wastewater treatment, water reuse and resource recovery opportunities in Kanpur (India) has been prepared and will be presented at a face to face meeting with the Kanpur Jal Nigam in June 2022 after which it will be made public on the Pavitra Ganga website.
It is too early to provide specific figures on the social or economic benefits of the project, until the pilots have been fully evaluated. The evaluation of the technologies being piloted includes a full life cycle assessment and socio-economic performance assessments – we expect therefore to articulate the economic and environmental benefits at the end of the project.
Pavitra Ganga scope and impact