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Prevention of Water Wastage: Regulations/ Rules?: Advice?

I would like to know that if there is a Water Conservation Act? When I observe people wasting more water than using it , it is really very painful & deleterious to all concerned. So is there a method/regulation that will help prevent the wastage of a precious resource. What are the steps that are to be taken in this regard? 

Manoj K Jain




No, there is no such law.

To understand why not, you need to divert from water issues, and reflect on “governance”. Making acts is easy. Ensuring compliance is not. There is an act to prevent people from polluting rivers. Has that stopped river pollution? This despite the fact that the number of polluters is relatively small – industrial units and cities.

Even then, prosecution is not easy. It is extremely difficult to ensure compliance of daily actions by millions of people –don’t spit on roads, don’t paste posters on walls, don’t play loud music. . . Laws exist for all these, and you know the compliance levels. Suppose an act is made to stop ordinary people from wasting water in their daily chores. Have you thought what kind of implementation machinery will it require ?

But you will have noticed there is now a marked reduction in smoking in public; for the past few years Delhi has been achieving a perceptible reduction in use of crackers during Diwalee; and there are no “paan” spiting stains in Delhi metro stations or trains. All this is not because of any act, but because of a mass awareness about it.

Finally, you seem to be making the common mistake of overestimating the wastage of water in domestic use. Typically, domestic use is 7% of total water use. And of this use, the actual wastage is hardly 10%. Which means a total wastage of hardly 0.7%.

You have written “I observe people wasting more water than using it” I doubt if you have actually measured the usage and wastage separately before reaching that conclusion. If wastage is more than usage, then a family of four using 800 L per day, will have to waste more than 800 L per day. In how many places in India you get a supply of more than 1600 L per day ? Most families don’t get even 800 L per day.

No doubt water is wasted at domestic level, and there is scope to save it. But the quantum of wastage and potential saving are invariably exaggerated.

Chetan Pandit


Currently there is no such act that prevents wastage of water. There are few laws for mandatory rain water harvesting at homes and restrictions to drill borewells which are aimed at conserving water pursued by few Indian states.

Charging the users based on volumetric basis using water meters would create water consciousness among the general public.

Imagine the state of electricity consumption in India without electricity meters, although some of us still manage to misuse it.


Dear Manoj K Jain,

There is national water policy of 2002 which accords priority for different uses of water in following order - drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, ecology, agro-industries, non-agro industries, navigation and other uses. It also mentions need for water conservation. The details can be seen in the policy posted on Ministry of Water Resources Site.

In addition, water being state subject different states has formulated state policies for water. Some states require registration of borewells to protect groundwater. Some states (like Karnataka) have altogether banned sinking of new borewells to conserve the groundwater. Also states have been working towards rainwater harvesting schemes.

Suneel Pandey
Fellow and Area Convenor
Centre for Environmental Studies
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
New Delhi


Dear Manoj K Jain,

To my knowledge, there is no such act by means of which profligate use of water can be punished or any rules to ensure achieving it. It is the moral obligation of the citizens' as well as the authorities (who supply water) to make sure that the water does not get wasted. There are two operational means of achieving the objectives:

1. The water tariffs should adequately reflect the scarce value of water. In India, water tariffs are sometimes not even covering the operation & maintenance costs. The value of water has to be = O&M cost+ capital cost recovery + consumption value of water. Then the consumers would become aware of the costs to cough up.

2. The city authorities have to understand the implications of water loss during transmission and distribution and pilferage/loss at the distribution end. By working out the losses through audits, they should workout the means of reducing the loss, instead of planning a new project to bring water. This will be done only if some strong civil society organization is present to take it up with city authorities and influence them.

3. If there is deliberate waste of water within residential/commercial complexes, some time penalties can be imposed. Residential associations do vigil on the houses and penalize for such action (as in Mumbai) and wastage in commercial complexes can be regulated by local authority i.e., municipality.

I hope it gives the current position.

With regards,

Ramakrishna Nallathiga
Knowledge Manager (Infrastructure & Environment)
Centre for Good Governance
Andhra Pradesh


I reside in an area in Jayanagar that gets water (Cauvery) 24/7, its use is obviously brazen. Its a upper middle class/ rich locality and most of water and almost everyday is used to wash cars and even the road., with recent major water consumption being for 'construction works'

When i mention it to friends i hear that there are lots of areas in Bangalore that are homes to influential people and hence such flagrant disposal of resources.

Also, i fear that putting a stop to the 24 hrours water supply would lead to everyone digging up borewells, is there a rule on 'who can and who cannot dig borewells based on assessing the water already made available by the government to that area ?'

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