Need of modern wastewater treatment is rising not just to reduce pollution in water bodies, but also to reuse & recycle water.
With the rise in water scarcity in India, availability of water for industries is going down rapidly. Increasing population is pushing up demand for food, which is resulting in higher productivity in agriculture, a sector that uses almost 70-75 per cent of fresh water. "India consumes 13 per cent of water (both surface & groundwater) globally. On the other hand, in spite of having world's largest population, China occupies the second place (12 per cent) as the country is taking steps to conserve and recycle water," says Dr Suresh Kulkarni, Secretary, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority.
As per UNICEF estimate, water availability per capita in India will decrease in the next 40 years. In 2011, the per capita average annual availability of water was 1,545 cubic meter per annum (CMPA), but it is projected that this will decrease to 1,340 CMPA by 2025 and 1,140 CMPA by 2050. The stress of water limitation will drive India towards reusing and recycling wastewater.
Companies are finding themselves under increased pressure to optimally use water - a scarce, but, a quintessential resource for any industry. Realising this, companies are taking initiatives for water conservation, wastewater recycles, desalination, etc. While companies can easily get the necessary approvals, power and other utilities for expanding their production facility, getting the licence to draw fresh/raw water is increasingly becoming a tougher task. This is forcing the industry to find ways to reduce/reuse and recycle water used in the premises.
Another factor that is driving companies to incorporate water conservation strategy is the threat of communities living around the industries, which may get affected by the unhindered discharge of waste, deterioration of groundwater quality and availability of water throughout the year. Increased public pressure and litigations are driving Indian corporates to adopt sustainable and technologically advanced water and wastewater treatment processes, including recycling and tertiary treatment to meet the requirements of water for their respective industrial activities.
For wastewater treatment, effluent treatment systems having various options of biological treatment, solid-liquid separation, reverse osmosis (RO), sludge handling and disposal are commonly used. On the other hand, technologies such as filtration, softening, demineralisation (DM), ultrafiltration (UF), etc. are used for water treatment. There is a constant influx of new equipment and technologies which are adapted and practised by various system builders.
The demand for these technologies varies from time to time and industry to industry. Till 2013, for example, the demand for DM-RO-UF systems was stagnant, but since then the market is picking up. On the other hand, the demand for sewage treatment systems continues to be robust. New technologies like sequencing batch reactor (SBR)-membrane bioreactor (MBR) based treatment are also gaining traction with rising requirements for various effluent and sewage recycling systems.
Another example is membrane separation processes, which although widely used for last 10-15 years in water and wastewater applications, was not the preferred treatment option in chemical processing plants due to inadequate technological advancement. However, with the usage of advanced polymer material in ultrafiltration membranes and new advancements to provide fouling resistance, it is now possible to implement MBR based biological systems to treat wastewater.
Major Market Potential
German companies that already operate on the Indian water and sewage market confirm the increased demand for solutions for treating industrial wastewater. For companies from abroad, Christian Ziemer, Manager Business Development and Strategy, Water & Wastewater, Siemens AG not only sees market opportunities in cooperating with large Indian businesses; also small and medium-sized companies increasingly invest in innovative water and wastewater solutions. Here, he anticipates an annual growth rate of 10 to 12 per cent. "In India, there is heightened demand for higher-value technologies that meet the legal requirements which have become stricter," Ziemer explains. Franz Heindl, Director International Sales, Huber SE shares this view: "This sector's market potential currently is higher than the one of municipal sewage treatment, as the statutory provisions put enormous pressure on companies that in turn need to react fast. In the medium to long term, however, the municipal need will by far exceed the industrial one."
In demand: System Solutions
In technological terms, for large Indian companies Jnrgen Hannak, Senior Project Manager, Adelphi sees a need for high filtration and oxidation systems, solutions for sewage sludge disposal and for energy management solutions in sewage treatment plants. Also challenges due to "microplastics" and "pharmaceuticals in wastewater" are increasingly discussed now and the recovery of chemical compounds such as phosphorus meanwhile come to the centre of attention. "Indian enterprises are primarily interested in system solutions. Conventional component solutions do already exist," Hannak says. This, just as in the field of human resources, mainly requires collaborative projects.
Recognising that water available to meet individual, agricultural and industrial needs is limited, manufacturers are working to minimise water requirements by reusing and recycling every drop of water they take until water loss is limited to evaporation. Water recycle and reuse programs require a sophisticated knowledge of water chemistry and technologies to ensure that water is treated to "fit for use" levels that protect the environment, product quality and asset integrity at optimal costs. "Water pollution is visible due to increased urbanisation. World over industries is trying to reduce their water requirement using new wastewater technologies. Decentralised wastewater treatment systems, which are relatively in the vicinity to the source of wastewater generation, can be ideal for cities," says Dr Kulkarni.
In many water-stressed regions of India, some of the leading manufacturers are working to develop "zero liquid discharge" (ZLD) facilities. Adoption of advanced technology such as the ZLD is low in India when compared to developed countries as setting up a ZLD system involves high capital investment. With stringent regulations and legislation in place, this scenario is expected to change in the next five years. According to Ken Research, the market is witnessing the growing presence of multinational industrial companies and their internal treatment procedures. There is an increasing trend in favour of sustainable wastewater treatment technologies such as MBRs for water reuse and recycling, and up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) for biogas generation from industrial wastewater treatment. The equipment companies are thriving to provide innovative and economical systems for treatment of wastewater from industries such as chemicals, drugs & pharmaceuticals, refineries, dairy, ready mix plants & textile and others.
Fit to drink
A US government agency, Export.gov, estimated that the value of the India wastewater treatment market will reach $ 3.25 billion by 2030. As a consequence, India has become a lucrative market for global and local wastewater treatment technology providers.
A number of organisations like Xylem, Ion Exchange India, Thermax, Black & Veatch, Jaldhara Technologies, VATech Wahag, etc. have been engaged in providing sustainable solutions for wastewater treatment. For example, Wabag, which has been instrumental in building the first plant for recycling of wastewater to drinking water in Namibia, plans to replicate the same in India as well. A full-scale implementation of such models in India will reduce the over usage of India's water resources for drinking purposes.
Similarly, Black & Veatch is currently providing consultancy services for Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai's (MCGM) Malad Zone wastewater treatment facility project. "The project, once commissioned, is likely to be one of India's largest in terms of treatment capacity. In addition, the company is developing India's largest recycled water master plan, also for MCGM," says Rajesh Patwardhan, Director - Business Development, Water, India, Black & Veatch.
Black & Veatch has been undertaking wastewater projects for more than 100 years. "What sets us apart is the ability to support every point of the wastewater asset lifecycle - from concept through to decommissioning. We have delivered water projects in more than 100 countries, including more than 80 in India," claims Patwardhan.
While most of the advanced technologies have been successfully applied in India, their penetration is low due to lack of awareness among users about their advantages over conventional processes, sensitivity to price, etc. At the same time, adopting these technologies to address local problems is a challenge.
Experts believe that the key challenge for MNCs in India is to adapt their technologies to local condition and customer requirements. In order to keep the costs competitive, it is very important to customise the product/technology and make it competitive by maximising the local content in overall offering. Fortunately, most of the components & parts are available in India.
Small & medium entrepreneurs (SMEs), which play a major role in the manufacturing industry, are normally content with developing very basic infrastructure. This might be due to lack of exposure to the more advanced technologies, which can lead to a manifold increase in water savings. The technology companies are realising the need to develop fit-to-use solutions for SMEs.
MNCs are leaving to no stone unturned in their quest to cater to local demand. "The desire to enhance India's wastewater treatment and sewerage infrastructure means there are many opportunities. Black & Veatch's global capability in dealing with complex wastewater treatment problems, including experience in sludge digestion and wastewater reuse means we are well placed to support government initiatives. Having a local team of highly skilled water engineers and understanding of the local delivery model, and what is right for the Indian context, means delivering world-class solutions with local talent is at the heart of our growth plans for India," says Patwardhan.
Wastewater: Not a waste, but a resource
In India, as in many countries, a key trend is to encourage the view that wastewater is a resource rather than a pollutant. "Advanced treatment turns wastewater into a viable source of water for both potable and non-potable uses. This concept is being embraced not just in arid regions, but in many areas where supply is outstripping demand. Advanced treatment typically combines activated sludge and with membrane filtration. We are currently undertaking India's largest recycled water masterplan, for the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM)," says Patwardhan.
Wastewater can also be an abundant source of energy. "Advanced digestion of sewage increases the amount of biogas produced as a by-product of the treatment process. The gas can be used as a renewable source of energy for the treatment process or for export to power grids. Our Indian engineers have supported two of the UK's largest biogas energy projects: Davyhulme - Manchester - which generates 80 GWh of electricity; while the biogas produced at Mogden - London - is converted into electricity each day, creating enough to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes," informs Patwardhan.
Clean India drives the demand
In addition, government initiatives such as Clean Ganga Mission, Smart Cities, etc are also driving the demands for wastewater treatment in India. "A host of government initiatives are driving demand for wastewater treatment projects. By including adequate water supply and sanitation in the attributes of a smart city, the Smart Cities Mission has put water centre stage," states Patwardhan.
The government is also trying to create a market for treated wastewater. Developments include a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Railways to adopt reused water for non-potable uses. In addition, it is now mandatory for power plants to buy treated wastewater from sewage treatment plans, where two plants are within a 50-kilometre radius of each other.
Although Swachh Bharat encompasses all aspects of waste and refuse, there is a strong focus on sanitation. According to the Union Water Resources Ministry, it has signed a joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) with seven ministries to carry forward multi-sectoral activities for a minimum of three years to rejuvenate the river. 70-75 per cent of the pollution in Ganga is municipal sewage. To tackle municipal sewage, in the first phase of Namami Ganga, 118 towns were tentatively identified for the provision of new wastewater treatment works (WWTWs).
Patwardhan says, "The government has shown a willingness to improve old and underperforming wastewater infrastructure. There are also programmes in place for communities where there is little or no wastewater infrastructure. The challenges will be ensuring funding, and ensuring that processes such as environmental clearances are managed efficiently."
- Rahul Kamat
Wastewater scenario in India