Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Water and sewage

"The way suburban development usually works is that a town lays the pipes, plumbing, and infrastructure for housing development—often getting big loans from the government to do so—and soon after a developer appears and offers to build homes on it. Developers usually fund most of the cost of the infrastructure because they make their money back from the sale of the homes. The short-term cost to the city or town, therefore, is very low: it gets a cash infusion from whichever entity fronted the costs, and the city gets to keep all the revenue from property taxes. The thinking is that either taxes will cover the maintenance costs, or the city will keep growing and generate enough future cash flow to cover the obligations. But the tax revenue at low suburban densities isn’t nearly enough to pay the bills; in Marohn’s estimation, property taxes at suburban densities bring in anywhere from 4 cents to 65 cents for every dollar of liability. Most suburban municipalities, he says, are therefore unable to pay the maintenance costs of their infrastructure, let alone replace things when they inevitably wear out after twenty to twenty-five years. The only way to survive is to keep growing or take on more debt, or both. “It is a ridiculously unproductive system,” he says." from an article in Time by Lee Gallagher (via Ramarao Kanneganti).
 Sunita Narain writes about similar problems with cities: "Take water, sewage, mobility or air pollution. The current model of resource management, developed in rich Western cities, is costly. It cannot be afforded by all. Even these cities cannot rebuild the paraphernalia for providing services to their people. This system was built years ago, when the city had funds and grew gradually with recurring, high investment. Even if we were to build greenfield cities, we cannot wish for such investment. We need a new approach to humane urban growth.

The first principle in this is to accept that we have to renew what already exists. Take water, for example. Our cities have been built to optimise on the available resources. They were smart in building lakes and ponds to harvest every drop of rain. This ensured that the city recharged its water table and did not face floods every time it rained. We need to revive that system. It may not be adequate to meet the growing needs of the city, but will cut costs by reducing the length of the pipeline and bring down distribution losses."
Rahul Banerjee's ideas and work in this direction:
That was from a few years ago ( a link was posted in 2007). A more recent one from India Waterportal
Here is a long manuscript by Rahul Banerjee about water and sewagw management in Indore.

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