Water reuse is one of the most sustainable water augmentation option to cope up with the high water demands of the developing communities globally. It has several additional benefits such as nutrient recovery, economic gains and environmental benefits. Even though, water reuse is economical and sustainable, its practical implementation at a wide scale has many technical, social, institutional and regulatory challenges, especially in developing countries like India. In India, there is a scarcity of stringent national regulations and guidelines for the safe implementation of wastewater reuse systems. In this study, the assessment of the existing regulatory framework for treated wastewater reuse is done to understand the need of current and future policy interventions and recommendations are made based on expert consultation. The legal assessment highlights the importance of consultation, communication and education in the development of an effective regulatory structure. The analysis of the expert reviews suggests inclusion of policy directives based on funding sources and technical infrastructure to support the growth of water reuse in India.

  • The analysis of the existing regulatory framework related to water reuse in India is done.

  • The drawbacks of the existing policy directives have been outlined.

  • Policy recommendations are suggested based on an extensive review and stakeholder consultation.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
     
  • TWW

    Treated Wastewater

  •  
  • USEPA

    United States Environmental Protection Agency

  •  
  • WHO

    World Health Organization

  •  
  • FAO

    Food and Agricultural Organization

  •  
  • JICA

    Japan International Cooperation Agency

  •  
  • CPHEEO

    Central Public Health Engineering and Environmental Organization

  •  
  • JNNURM

    Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission

  •  
  • NMCG

    National Mission for Clean Ganga

  •  
  • AMRUT

    Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation

  •  
  • TPP

    Thermal Power Plant

  •  
  • EU

    European Union

  •  
  • JJM

    Jal Jeevan Mission

  •  
  • MOHUA

    Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs

  •  
  • WWTP

    Wastewater Treatment Plant

  •  
  • ULB

    Urban Local Body

  •  
  • GIS

    Geographic Information System

  •  
  • GPS

    Global Positioning System

  •  
  • DPR

    Detailed Progress Report

  •  
  • PPP

    Public Private Partnership

  •  
  • SLPHC

    State Level High Power Committee

  •  
  • SLTC

    State Level Technical Committee

  •  
  • PHED

    Public Health Engineering Department

  •  
  • MBR

    Membrane Bioreactor

  •  
  • MBBR

    Moving Bed Biofilm reactor

  •  
  • SBR

    Sequential Batch Reactor

  •  
  • CPCB

    Central Pollution Control Board

  •  
  • SPCB

    State Pollution Control Board

  •  
  • WW

    Wastewater

  •  
  • STW

    Secondary Treated Water

  •  
  • ETP

    Effluent Treatment Plant

  •  
  • NGT

    National Green Tribunal

  •  
  • STP

    Sewage Treatment Plant

  •  
  • SBM

    Swachh Bharat Mission

  •  
  • UPPCB

    Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board

Throughout the world, rapid population growth and industrial development have resulted in rising water demands, surpassing the existing supplies and creating a water shortage in most of the countries including India. In India, the prevailing water resources are over-exploited due to declining water levels and high water pollution due to mixing of surface and ground water with industrial and other pollutants. The alarming water availability situation in the country has fuelled the need to search for alternative water augmentation strategies.

For supplementing the deficient water resources, alternate water supply interventions such as wastewater reuse has been adopted by many countries worldwide. Reuse of treated wastewater (TWW) has emerged as an economical and environmentally sustainable alternative along with many monetary and non-monetary benefits. Unfortunately, the growth of water reuse is restricted in India due to various technical, social, economic and legal barriers such as lack of techno-economic infrastructure and regulatory framework and limited mind-set on ‘closed-water-loop’ due to limited public awareness.

Research shows that the policy framework plays a major role in the implementation of water reuse projects in any region throughout the world. Planning of a water reuse project is affected by several laws, policies and regulations. A strong regulatory structure is quite essential for a water reuse scheme. It also helps in establishing the trust of the local community in the water reuse schemes. For example, if in any region, reuse of a certain amount of wastewater is mandatory as per the law, the rate of reuse would be better in that region. Furthermore, policy incentives for reuse of TWW can increase its usage. Past studies have shown that the formulation of water policies specific to recycling and reuse have contributed to increase in water reuse in Australia (Rogers et al., 2015; Watson et al., 2017), California, USA, etc. (Dolnicar et al., 2011; Bischel et al., 2012; Dzidic & Green, 2012). To increase the efficacy of the legal framework, it must be conjoined with quality standards and effective enforcement approach. Regulatory frameworks and water quality guidelines related to safe reuse of TWW for various applications have been developed by several countries and organizations, such as WHO Guidelines (2006, 2017); USEPA Guidelines (2012) and FAO guidelines (User's Manual for Irrigation with Treated Wastewater, 2003; World Health Organization, 2006, 2017; USEPA, 2012).

The overall planning, implementation and success of reuse projects depends highly on the effective policies, institutional framework and regulations. Environmental legislation plays an essential role in the adoption of water reuse as part of water and wastewater management. The long-term feasibility of integrated water management systems is reliant on sustainable guidelines and strict regulatory framework.

Water sector in India is governed by policies of the Central and State Governments as well as the concerned local bodies of the rural and urban regions. The water and wastewater governance is administrated by many factors like organizational setup, role of local, district and state authorities, availability of required infrastructure and political support for effective functioning, the policy framework requires synchronization between the institutional arrangement and the regulatory structure as shown in Figure 1.
Fig. 1

Components of a policy framework.

Fig. 1

Components of a policy framework.

Close modal

To safeguard the public trust and eliminate associated health risks, it is essential to form strict regulations and standards for water reuse. Legal code of conduct must be strengthened by adequate standards and enforcement mechanisms. To reinforce the legal structure related to water reuse, it is also important for all the involved authorities to coordinate with each other and plan for water reuse at local or state level. Many a times, the projects are unsuccessful due to split ownership and incompatible decision-making between various departments involved in water supply and wastewater management. The institutional capacity also holds great significance in implementing water reuse. Any municipality must be capable of developing, operating and maintaining a water reuse system, while holding the confidence of the community as a reliable and trustworthy organization.

Studies by various researchers suggest that it is of the utmost priority to form regulatory standards and a framework for execution of water reuse systems, especially in developing countries like India (Hidalgo et al., 2007; Adewumi et al., 2010; Shastri & Raval, 2012; Saldías et al., 2015; Sgroi et al., 2018; Voulvoulis, 2018). Presently, there is a lack of coordination between the authorities in charge of water supply and wastewater management in India. This power fragmentation causes delays in strategic implementation, interdepartmental disagreements, resource division and other complexities that make the water reuse project far more complex than required (Lautze et al., 2014). Limited synchronization affects the data availability in terms of coverage, robustness and efficiency which demands for a national regulatory framework to implement water reuse projects in India.

Starkl et al. (2015) analysed the feasibility of establishing water reuse systems for irrigation in Hyderabad and suggested that the governmental support in terms of treatment train setup and other incentives would be instrumental in the successful implementation of reuse projects. Sharma et al., (2016) focussed on the development of an integrated water management system for Shimla city and found that the lack of policies and coordination among the stakeholders has led to the inadequacy of resources which hinders the development of an integrated approach. The authors highlighted the importance of developing strict guidelines promoting water reuse for adequate water management. Drangert & Sharatchandra (2017) evaluated the water balance scenario in Bengaluru city and found a poorly developed and implemented water management system to be the main cause of water scarcity in the city and suggested that the implementation of a planned water reuse system supported by strict guidelines can improve the water supply situation considerably without affecting the natural water resources. Alley (2018) reviewed a series of reuse case studies to assess the factors involved in successful and effective implementation of water reuse in India and observed that the success of a reuse scheme depends on strong institutional and regulatory framework along with consideration to the economic feasibility.

Realizing the high stress on existing water resources and uneven water distribution in the country, TWW has been acknowledged by the Government of India as a valuable resource. Several schemes and policies have been launched at administrative levels to support and encourage the reuse of TWW. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has developed a guidance manual on wastewater recycle and reuse, Central Public Health Engineering and Environmental Organization (CPHEEO) manual on Sewerage and Sewage Treatment Systems (2013) which incorporates a detailed discussion on wastewater recycling and reuse in different areas, specifying the water quality guidelines of treated water for intended use, identifying best practices and reuse related case studies. As a result, many wastewater reuse projects have been implemented in several cities throughout the country, namely Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Nagpur, Bengaluru, and Surat mainly for industrial and other non-potable applications as shown in Figure 2 (Manual on Sewerage and Sewage Treatment Systems, 2013).
Fig. 2

Examples of water reuse in India.

Fig. 2

Examples of water reuse in India.

Close modal
At present, 32 cities in India are practising wastewater recycling and reuse, wherein the quantity of TWW is 11,464 Million litres per day (MLD) and the quantity of wastewater that is treated and reused is 4227 MLD, i.e. 37%. Out of these 32 cities, in 15 cities more than 50% of water reuse is being practised which is quite encouraging. As per Figure 3, Nashik, Jodhpur, Jabalpur and Madurai have achieved 100% of wastewater recycling and reuse whereas cities like Vadodara and Amritsar practise only 2% of water reuse (Compendium of Recycle and Reuse of Wastewater in 54 Million plus cities, 2021).
Fig. 3

Present status of water reuse by different cities in percentage.

Fig. 3

Present status of water reuse by different cities in percentage.

Close modal

While policy directions and guiding frameworks in India acknowledge the need for reuse of TWW, the integration of the concept at the planning stage of water supply scheme development is still missing due to the lack of a comprehensive policy at national and state levels. Moreover, the design and operation and maintenance aspects for the management of such projects and tariff structure for the sale of treated water for various applications have not been taken up aggressively. In this study, the assessment of existing policy framework for water reuse is done to understand the gaps in the structure and recommend future policy interventions.

Water, being a vast area, has an extensively spread legal framework in India, constituting many components, like water supply management, water resources and their storage, and water power, etc. Moreover, as per the constitution of India, water is a state subject, i.e. all the decisions related to water management within the state lies in the power of the concerned states and only inter-state and international water issues are under federal government. The main issue with the existing jurisdiction is the lack of coordination among the associated planners and authorities within as well as interstate which makes the implementation of regulatory plans and guidelines challenging. Of late, the water sector has seen several reforms in the policies for TWW like cost recovery, public–private partnership (PPP) and water tariffs making way for an integrated sustainable development, including the privatization of the sector. Furthermore, many policy directives, missions, programmes, etc. have been recommended or mandated at central level by various ministries, namely NITI Aayog, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Power and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, etc. to promote the reuse of treated water (Figure 4).
Fig. 4

Wastewater reuse policy guidelines and programmes in India (Kumar & Goyal, 2020).

Fig. 4

Wastewater reuse policy guidelines and programmes in India (Kumar & Goyal, 2020).

Close modal

Recently, Government of India, in the annual financial budget of 2021–2022, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), under the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti has been directed to make 500 cities, water-secure, i.e. to provide 100% water supply coverage and septage management to all the households and sewage management under the AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) plan of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA). Furthermore, the mission would focus on promotion of circular economy by practising wastewater recycling and reuse, water conservation and rejuvenation of water bodies. The plan is to develop an institutional mechanism to meet 20% of any city's demand with TWW (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation -AMRUT, MOHUA, Govt. of India, 2021). Along with that, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) 2.0 is launched in October, 2021, wherein wastewater treatment and reuse shall be undertaken for all urban local bodies with population less than 100,000. Also, as per the National building code of India, treated sewage (black water) and sullage (grey water) have to be used for toilet flushing, fire protection, horticulture, etc. in commercial and high-rise residential complexes.

Taking a cue from the central government programmes and missions, several states have also formulated their own wastewater reuse policies to improve the water security and encourage water reuse, as discussed in Supplementary Material, appendix A. Due to differences in the geography and socio-economic status, the institutional arrangements, selection of treatment processes and other considerations, vary in the respective state policy frameworks.

National Green Tribunal (NGT) of India, a specialized judicial body for adjudicating environmental cases in the country, has directed all the states/union territories (UTs) to plan and develop action plans for utilization of TWW and submit the same to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for assessment (‘Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding utilization of treated wastewater from STPs’, Govt. of India, 2019). Some of the states have formulated action plans or draft policy document/guidelines for usage of TWW, such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Puducherry and Daman and Diu as discussed in Table 1. Some of the states have elaborative action plans, whereas some states have very limited information and promote water reuse through their existing water policy guidelines.

Table 1

Water reuse guidelines and action plans in various states/UTs.

State/UTKey features/Action plan highlights
Assam • Encouragement of water reuse by suggesting a dual piping system
• Industrial reuse, especially in thermal power plants 
Bihar • Water reuse promotion in water-stressed areas 
Chandigarh • Promotion of water recycling and reuse
• Development of infrastructural capacity by laying additional pipes
• Plan to reuse 18% TWW in the city 
Dadra and Nagar Haveli • Endorsement of wastewater reuse 
Daman and Diu • Action plan for reuse of TWW from STP
• Construction of sewerage networks and sewage treatment plants
• Industrial units to treat and reuse the treated effluent within the premise 
Goa • Formulation of policies to supply treated water in industry and agriculture 
Himachal Pradesh • Development of industrial projects with consideration to water reuse 
Kerala • Promotion of recycle and reuse for non-potable applications
• City specific plans for water reuse, e.g. Thiruvananthapuram 
Meghalaya • Promotion of water reuse
• Industries instructed to treat wastewater as per specified standards and return
• Separation of black and grey wastewater and treatment for reuse 
Maharashtra • Reuse of at least 30% of the TWW
• At least, 80% of the domestic wastewater to be available for reuse
• Industries encouraged for ‘zero effluent’
• Incentivization for reusing TWW
• Industrial reuse in thermal power plants, estates, and other non-potable purposes
• Mandate to reuse toilet water for cities 
Manipur • Reuse through greywater management 
NCT of Delhi • Policy to reuse TWW for horticulture and eliminate groundwater usage
• Encourages reuse of TWW, especially, from kitchen and bathrooms, for toilet flushing
• Mandatory decentralized wastewater treatment systems for all schools/institutions/complexes/parks/hospitals to promote reuse
• Incentives for TWW users
• Penalization against non-fulfilment of SPCB/CPCB disposal standards
• Target to reuse 80% of TWW by the year 2027 
Nagaland • Dual piping system in new establishments
• TPPs encouraged to reuse treated water 
Odisha • Promotion of water recycling and reuse for non-potable applications
• Industrial reuse of TWW 
Puducherry • Usage of TWW in industries for boiler, cooling towers, toilet flushing, fire protection, green belt development, and irrigation, etc.
• Mandatory use of treated effluent in water-intensive industries
• Subsidy provision to treated water users, e.g. industries
• Reduce the cost of treated sewage water to increase its usage
• Stakeholders awareness with respect to water reuse 
Telangana • Encourage water reuse in industries and agriculture
• City specific plans for water reuse, e.g. Hyderabad 
Tamil Nadu • Reuse practised in industries
• Setting up of wastewater treatment infrastructure
• City-specific plans for water reuse, e.g. Chennai 
Uttar Pradesh • Implementation of central schemes such as AMRUT, SBM, Smart city mission WITH respect of water reuse
• Establishment of ‘State water and wastewater training centre’ with focus on research and development, public awareness, human resources management, etc.
• Defined users for reuse of TWW
• Criteria defined for different applications as per Uttar Pradesh pollution control board (UPPCB)
• Use of TWW in industries lying within the range of 20 km of an STP
• Focus on capacity building for wastewater planning and management
• Mandatory usage of TWW in all concrete mixers and construction sites lying within 10 km of any municipality
• Mandatory reuse of TWW for vehicle washing
• Provision of stakeholdes roles and responsibilities
• Establishment of TWW cell to plan and coordinate implementation of water reuse schemes 
Uttarakhand • Promotion of reuse of TWW in industries and construction activities 
State/UTKey features/Action plan highlights
Assam • Encouragement of water reuse by suggesting a dual piping system
• Industrial reuse, especially in thermal power plants 
Bihar • Water reuse promotion in water-stressed areas 
Chandigarh • Promotion of water recycling and reuse
• Development of infrastructural capacity by laying additional pipes
• Plan to reuse 18% TWW in the city 
Dadra and Nagar Haveli • Endorsement of wastewater reuse 
Daman and Diu • Action plan for reuse of TWW from STP
• Construction of sewerage networks and sewage treatment plants
• Industrial units to treat and reuse the treated effluent within the premise 
Goa • Formulation of policies to supply treated water in industry and agriculture 
Himachal Pradesh • Development of industrial projects with consideration to water reuse 
Kerala • Promotion of recycle and reuse for non-potable applications
• City specific plans for water reuse, e.g. Thiruvananthapuram 
Meghalaya • Promotion of water reuse
• Industries instructed to treat wastewater as per specified standards and return
• Separation of black and grey wastewater and treatment for reuse 
Maharashtra • Reuse of at least 30% of the TWW
• At least, 80% of the domestic wastewater to be available for reuse
• Industries encouraged for ‘zero effluent’
• Incentivization for reusing TWW
• Industrial reuse in thermal power plants, estates, and other non-potable purposes
• Mandate to reuse toilet water for cities 
Manipur • Reuse through greywater management 
NCT of Delhi • Policy to reuse TWW for horticulture and eliminate groundwater usage
• Encourages reuse of TWW, especially, from kitchen and bathrooms, for toilet flushing
• Mandatory decentralized wastewater treatment systems for all schools/institutions/complexes/parks/hospitals to promote reuse
• Incentives for TWW users
• Penalization against non-fulfilment of SPCB/CPCB disposal standards
• Target to reuse 80% of TWW by the year 2027 
Nagaland • Dual piping system in new establishments
• TPPs encouraged to reuse treated water 
Odisha • Promotion of water recycling and reuse for non-potable applications
• Industrial reuse of TWW 
Puducherry • Usage of TWW in industries for boiler, cooling towers, toilet flushing, fire protection, green belt development, and irrigation, etc.
• Mandatory use of treated effluent in water-intensive industries
• Subsidy provision to treated water users, e.g. industries
• Reduce the cost of treated sewage water to increase its usage
• Stakeholders awareness with respect to water reuse 
Telangana • Encourage water reuse in industries and agriculture
• City specific plans for water reuse, e.g. Hyderabad 
Tamil Nadu • Reuse practised in industries
• Setting up of wastewater treatment infrastructure
• City-specific plans for water reuse, e.g. Chennai 
Uttar Pradesh • Implementation of central schemes such as AMRUT, SBM, Smart city mission WITH respect of water reuse
• Establishment of ‘State water and wastewater training centre’ with focus on research and development, public awareness, human resources management, etc.
• Defined users for reuse of TWW
• Criteria defined for different applications as per Uttar Pradesh pollution control board (UPPCB)
• Use of TWW in industries lying within the range of 20 km of an STP
• Focus on capacity building for wastewater planning and management
• Mandatory usage of TWW in all concrete mixers and construction sites lying within 10 km of any municipality
• Mandatory reuse of TWW for vehicle washing
• Provision of stakeholdes roles and responsibilities
• Establishment of TWW cell to plan and coordinate implementation of water reuse schemes 
Uttarakhand • Promotion of reuse of TWW in industries and construction activities 

The information in regard to planning and implementation of water reuse is not available for the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and UTs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Ladakh, Lakshadweep. The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has developed a general document containing the steps to implement a water reuse project and the business models for PPP along with techno-economic considerations. There is no region-specific plan of action for implementing water reuse. Even though, several state level policies and action plans have been developed to implement water reuse, there are many drawbacks which inhibit the effective implementation of water reuse systems.

The need for a national policy on reuse of TWW is imminent. To address the issue, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti in cooperation with the India–European Union (EU) water partnership and GIZ, a German development agency, resources for formulating a national policy. The draft of the policy released in October, 2020 is focussed on setting guidelines for safe reuse of treated municipal wastewater and providing a guiding framework for the states for implementation of water reuse. The roles and responsibilities of key institutions and authorities have been defined at both central and state levels. Short-term targets have been set for the states to develop state policy for water reuse and focus on developing sewerage network and targeted reuse volumes. Moreover, the details regarding the funding sources for water reuse projects are also discussed. Some information on the available treatment technologies in India is also provided, along with detailed information on business models to support water reuse programmes.

As witnessed, the development of policies and regulatory framework requires multi-level stakeholder engagement and intervention. Stakeholder participation is fundamental for supporting and enhancing water reuse implementation. It is very important to consult the stakeholders at different levels while planning a water reuse project, so as to address the issues, if any. Discussions with the experts on the existing guidelines and framework can give an insight into the existing constraints and future opportunities which might help in improving the approach. In this study, multiple stakeholder consultations have been held to discuss the existing state polices and the draft of the national policy. From the analysis, following may be concluded.

  • A detailed assessment of treatment technologies for reuse in different sectors is not considered in the state water reuse policies (e.g. Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab).

  • There is a lack of water quality norms/standards for different reuse applications.

  • In some policies, the role of stakeholders is not clearly defined which might lead to confusion.

  • Elaborative information regarding the operation and maintenance of water reuse systems is not provided (e.g. Chhattisgarh).

  • There is no clarity on the implementing agency for water reuse projects (e.g. Haryana).

  • Information regarding public communication and outreach programmes is very scarce (e.g. Punjab).

  • Though, certain policies have mentioned interest in the resource recovery, but to achieve the same the guidelines are not there.

  • The policy frameworks have limited information on monetary and non-monetary incentives in the form of subsidies, water reuse certificates (especially for industries), incentivization of tariff policies, mandates and standards, etc.

  • There is no information on measures to encourage and enforce the usage of TWW.

  • No information is provided on the legal actions to be taken in case of non-compliance of mandatory water reuse by the municipal authorities or the users.

  • The information on bulk water users is provided in many plans, but the market mechanism of TWW is not discussed.

  • The information on the tariff system of TWW is varying and unclear in different states.

  • Some states do not have specific plans related to water reuse in terms of potential markets and planning approach to follow.

  • Most of the states are focussed only on urban reuse of wastewater and the plan for water reuse in the rural areas is neglected.

  • The draft national policy extensively covers many aspects of water reuse and addresses some limitations of the existing state policies, but there are many factors related to development of standards/norms, practice of reuse, revenue generation models, etc. yet to be considered. In order to address the discussed policy drawbacks, some policy recommendations are given as follows.

  • The planning and operating aspects for the management of wastewater and its reuse must be given attention incorporating the different aspects, related to building of techno-economic infrastructure and social willingness, as delineated in the present study.

  • The institutional and monitoring capacity needs to be strengthened by increasing the coordination and engagement of key stakeholders and local community.

  • Inclusion of guidelines for developing community-specific programmes considering the emotional determinants established in the study.

  • Legislative policies to be designed by considering the established social factors that drive the community trust and acceptance towards water reuse.

  • The guiding framework must include a detailed information on wastewater and sludge treatment and reuse technologies and quality standards for specific end uses.

  • Development of designated and restricted freshwater zones to enforce usage of TWW.

  • Regulatory guidelines for risk management and the provision of safe water are also needed to build the integrity of treated water as a reliable alternative and to increase market viability.

  • Effective funding and revenue generating mechanisms that allow cost recovery and economic sustenance of wastewater treatment and reuse infrastructure must be established (PPP models).

  • Inclusion of financial as well as non-financial incentives for the users, especially, industries may be beneficial.

PPPs play an important role in supporting and enhancing the economic feasibility of wastewater reuse projects. The design and implementation of reuse projects require a lot of planning and capital investment. In PPPs, a private entity takes on the responsibility of project implementation, including financing, and invests private equity or some sort of debt into the project. Private sector engagement in various designing and operational fields is an upcoming trend in India. Various multi- and bilateral financial institutions have put in efforts for expansion of water reuse in the country serving two-fold purpose of technology transfer and capital investments. There are different PPP models for wastewater management and reuse in India such as build, operate and transfer (BOT) end-user, BOT annuity, BOT user charge and the design, build and operate (DBO) model. Some of the successful PPP models for wastewater reuse in India are based on BOT user charge (Vishakhapatnam Wastewater Recycling project and Surat-Bamroli Wastewater Recycling project), DBO (Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sanitation Board (CMWSSB)) and BOT end user (Nagpur-MAHAGENCO (Maharashtra State Power Generation Company) project (Kumar & Goyal, 2020).

Policy interventions are beneficial to the cause of enhancing water reuse in the country. They help in building the community trust in the scheme and result in wider acceptability. The analysis shows that there are certain critical key points to be included in the policy framework for encouraging water reuse as shown in Figure 5.
  • Public education and outreach: Develop widespread public education and awareness programmes to disseminate information about the elimination of public health risk and benefits of water reuse.

  • Removing barriers: Eliminate issues related to lack of inter-departmental coordination, economic viability and technical incapability.

  • Incentives: Provision of monetary and non-monetary incentives in form of rebates, brand promotions, etc. to encourage users to reuse TWW.

  • Mandates, regulations and standards: Integration of regulatory policies and standards related to water supply, wastewater management and reuse norms.

Fig. 5

Key components of a policy framework.

Fig. 5

Key components of a policy framework.

Close modal

The assessment of the existing policy framework for encouraging water reuse systems shows that the regulatory structure in respect of wastewater reclamation and reuse is in developing stages in India. Even though certain policies and legal advisories exist centrally, the regulation and implementation at community levels need boosting, planning, awareness and implementation. The governance analysis concludes that target-based guidelines and technical regulations with clearly defined national water reuse standards for various applications need to be developed at the earliest. Promotion of ongoing water reuse efforts is essential, especially in the new areas, where water supply plans are to be developed. In this study, certain policy recommendations related to planning, socio-economic and operational aspects are given to encourage water reuse in India. It can also be achieved by raising awareness regarding the value of wastewater among the political authorities, benefactors, municipal societies and other stakeholders through outreach programmes.

All relevant data are included in the paper or its Supplementary Information.

The authors declare there is no conflict.

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