Water stress

The scarcity of water appears as a major issue in India: 54% of the country faces high to extremely high water stress (WRI, 2014). The water stress refers to a twofold situation: when the demand for water exceeds the current available resource; when the poor quality of water restricts its use. The problem is deeply enrooted in the country, which hosts 17% of the world’s population for only 4% of the global water resources.

Mumbai, India, is currently home to 19 million people, and is expected to have a population of 26 million by 2030. The world’s second-largest city faces a real risk of water shortage: fewer than 20% of people in Mumbai have access to clean drinking water.

The water stress challenges all actors across all sectors. This is a naturally a critical environmental issue, with depleting groundwater levels. It is a huge political challenge for the authorities as the municipalities face an ever increasing water demand from the citizens and therefore have to address an increasing supply gap.
The industries are also concerned, for the availability of water proves to be crucial within the industrial process, especially for water-intensive industries. In particular, the coal-based thermal power plants are critically impacted: according to the 2016 Green Peace report, coal-based power plants in India consume 4.6 billion cubic meters per year. The water scarcity can thus trigger significant financial losses for the plants that have to shut down: in the first semester of 2016 alone, this is 7 billion units of generated electricity that were lost, resulting in a 320M $ loss for the plants. In other terms, the water stress can result in a loss 1.47M $ per day of inactivity of the plant. This financial threat for such water intensive industries is expected to further increase, as 28% of coal plants are located in extremely high water stressed areas, as well as a large share of plants to be constructed in the next years.
With its range of technologies and expertise, Veolia helps municipalities and companies to better face this challenge, through the protection and replenishment of resources.  Notably, we have developed the Water Impact Index (WIIX), a tool that enables companies and municipalities to make better informed choices. It assesses the effects of human activity on water resources and the stress on resources in terms of volume and quantity, thereby determining the water footprint of human activities.
Water stress index