Water Budgeting at Village Level for Achieving Drinking Water Security


articleT. M. Vijay Bhaskar**,,
“What cannot be measured, cannot be managed”. This has become the theme slogan for the National Drinking Water Security Pilot Projects launched by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. It was felt in various deliberations on drinking water supply and management scenario in rural areas of the country that despite impressive coverage achieved under National Rural Drinking Water Programme(NRDWP), a sense of insecurity grips the population in times of water crisis specially in the areas where groundwater has been over exploited. This not being just a psychological perception but arising out of physical non availability of water to a village or a certain section of a village for a certain period of time , made the Ministry think on the lines of Drinking Water Security Plan at the village or habitation level.

During the International workshop on Achieving Drinking Water Security in Water stressed and Quality-affected Areas on 25-26 May 2010 the deliberations focused on the need for measurement of the various parameters of ground water for its effective management.

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched the Pilot Projects to have a better understanding of the issues involved, and try and develop a scalable model with adequate documentation in order to make the models replicable in comparable areas, and the technical support is being provided by WSP SA (Water and Sanitation Program South Asia)

The entry point activity in the pilot project is Water Budget training where the community learns how to measure their water resources and prepare a water budget. The training venue is normally a Panchayat building or a community hall, and sometimes during winters the meeting takes place in the chaupal of the village. The participants and the trainers both sitting on the same Darree or Jajam (a local carpet), with pedestal mounted blackboard, and a flip chart board. The three day water budget training exercise starts with an exercise to judge the level of understanding of the villagers about the water resources.   The participants then involve in a brainstorming session on the current status of the drinking water sources and supplies in their village. The community perception of the drinking water status is brought out in the group discussion. This is followed by lunch, which consists of typical local delicacies, prepared in the village itself. Post lunch the role of various stakeholders is discussed, with group discussions on the methods for assessment of the drinking water situation in the village, issues related to distribution, losses, leakages, and customer satisfaction. The day ends with a session on planning the next day activities.

The second day of the training starts with recap of the learnings of Day 1, and then the participants set out for the field work with a transect walk through the village to get a holistic picture of the water sources for various uses. The team is equipped with the Survey of India Topo Sheet, Cadastral map of the village, Compass, GPS, water level recorder, Field kits for water quality test, sample bottles, stop watches, and buckets for measurements and recording of data. Participants visit various agricultural wells, canals, tanks and drinking water wells, measure water level, quality, and discharge to get an understanding of the total water system and its impact if any on the village water supply. This field exercise is to expose the participants to the techniques of measurements with local simple tools like stop watches as well as high end tools like GPS, and compass.

After taking a few sample readings across the village and the fields, the participants return to the training venue for the lunch. Post lunch the group sits together to identify the list of parameters to be considered in water

budgeting exercise. The participants discuss the use   of water budgeting, the parameters to be considered for estimation and the ways and means of collecting the data. The group finalizes a simple water budget calculation principle. Mock water budgeting exercise follows with the participants divided in to 6 groups of 4 to 5 members each.

These groups visit different localities within their village with specific objectives to gather information and data as follows:

Group 1 :          Details of surface water sources such as lakes, ponds, canals, their

approximate measurements

Group 2:           Agronomy, agricultural practices, crop area

Group 3:           Details of Livestock

Group 4:           Details of Groundwater sources such as Tubewells, open wells

Group 5:           Water required for domestic and drinking water needs

Group 6:           Leakages in the village water supply scheme, and water wastages in the village

The groups carry out the work during the evening and even the late evenings to visit locations and collect figures.

On Day 3 the groups finalize the calculations and present their data .

Various groups present their data and information and the total water requirements of the village are than computed by the community.

Based on these data the community then calculates the water balance for the village, from the details that emerged from the deliberations after the assignment of group tasks to volunteers. Trainer group encouraged the volunteers to assess the availability and consumption within their village. All the calculations are based on the data provided by the group.   Since the typically difficult measurement units of meter cube and kilo liters to measure huge quantity of

water are difficult to be understood by the community, simple unit of their village water tank which is 50,000 litres is used for the calculations and all calculations are done in terms of the number of tanks where 1 tank = 50,000 litres. Different groups in different village also evolve their own measurement units that are easy to explain or be understood by the community.

A typical water balance calculation is as follows:

Calculation of Rainwater availability 
Area of the village767 Hectare7670000M2 
Rainwater availability4602000M392040Tanks 
Percolation as Groundwater@20%920400M318408Tanks 
Calculation of Canal water availability 
Length of canal within the village periphery4300M 
Water available/Meter of canal34M3 
Annual water available  (4300×34) =146200M32924Tanks 
Canal Water available for  GW recharge @10%14620M3292Tanks 
Canal water used for irrigation393100M37862Tanks 
Calculation of Return flow from Irrigation
Water used for irrigation2850750M357015Tanks
Rate of percolation for return flow20%
Water percolated as return flow570150M311403Tanks

Calculation of Water Balance for village Chada
Total water availableTotal water consumed
From Rainfall18408TanksIrrigation57015Tanks
Recharge by canal292TanksDrinking & Domestic Water Supply1188Tanks
Direct Canal irrigation7862TanksWater Supply Scheme wastage256Tanks
Irrigation Return flow11403Tankscattle663Tanks
Total availability37965TanksTotal Consumption59122Tanks
Overall Consumption156%

A water balance is shown as a picture also by the community so that a  comparison may be drawn for the consumption and availability.

The group than engages into deliberations onto how to set the balance right. This triggers a long process of discussions, which continues in the following days, and results into some decision by the community themselves which come out as Drinking water Security Plan for the village. This plan lists the issues for the Drinking water Security, and enumerates the activities required to achieve Drinking water security for the village. The activities may range from self regulation on water wastages to modified agricultural practices for better water use efficiency or changing the crop pattern, or to change the pipe lines, or installation of valves or modifications in the distribution systems.

The Pilot projects are aimed at achieving drinking water security in a holistic manner, through a four-pronged approach of  – Measures for source sustainability through convergence with MNREGS, IWMP and other Watershed programmes and NRDWP; Participatory integrated water resources management led by Gram Panchayats; Preparation of drinking water security plans by villages; and Making the selected villages open defecation free and ensuring proper solid and liquid waste management.

A  Steering Committee at the Ministry level headed by the Secretary, MDWS, GOI oversees and monitors the progress of the National Drinking Water Security Pilot Projects.

The planning and  implementation ,  at the District level, and for the convergence issues, a District Core Group headed by the District Collector is in place in all the Districts that have the Pilot blocks, consisting of officers from the departments which deal with water management in the district and also the departments which affect the water scenario in the District in order to provide a holistic view , and data and technology transfer supports for the development of water security plans for the Pilot Block.

The Rural Water Supply department is the nodal agency for execution of the project. Since the work involves lot of efforts on the front of community mobilization, support organizations have been recruited which are responsible for awareness generation, baseline data collection, trainings of Village Water and Sanitation Committees, and assisting the community in preparing village water security plans.  Financing for the pilot comes from the existing allocations under the NRDWP Sustainability and Support components, MNREGS funds and allocations under the 13thFinance Commission recommendations.

15 blocks with alarming level of ground water development have been identified in the States of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, for demonstration with a provision for scaling up to the district level and thereafter on to a larger scale if the pilots are successful.

Thus, a revolution has been initiated silently in the rural drinking water sector of the country, through shaping up of village level drinking water security plans, by empowering the communities with the technical knowhow that sharpens their traditional wisdom and understanding of their water resources, and by reinstalling the faith in the community about their capabilities to manage their own drinking water.



*Joint Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.


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