Water supply for residents is a big challenge in urban India, and is more so in small towns, where institutionally and organisationally there are not enough trained and qualified people. In early 2007, Arghyam decided to venture into the urban water space and initiated a pilot programme on Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) in Mulbagal, a town in Kolar district, 100 kms from Bengaluru. From 2008 to 2012, several activities were taken up under this programme with a consortium of partners from government, civil society, academic, and other water sector institutions.
Over the course of four years, this multi-phase initiative included first, a Preparatory phase of engaging the local and state government stakeholders and developing the partnerships. This was followed by the Foundation phase which involved a series of studies to identify issues, mobilising the local community, and setting up the Project Support Unit (PSU). Third was the Planning and Design phase, during which appropriate interventions were planned, based on the evidence generated and prioritised by the local stakeholders. The fourth phase, Implementation, involved guiding the local actors in implementing a few targeted interventions. The final Operations and Maintenance (O&M) phase involved building local capacities and strengthening institutional or community structures to manage the interventions.
- A three year groundwater behaviour study to model and understand the feasibility of continued dependence on groundwater for meeting the town’s future needs.
- A study was conducted to probe water quality issues.
- An energy audit of all pumping stations to measure the efficiencies and performance levels.
- A household water and sanitation survey.
- Additional studies included a water asset survey, which resulted in mapping of the entire distribution network in the town, and studying its performance.
- GIS mapping of all the 1,375 households without toilets.
- Performance enhancement in one pumping station as a pilot project
- Twelve defunct community toilets were repaired and their ownership transferred to the Town Municipal Council (TMC) by the Slum Board. Four community toilets were brought back to use with a community-managed model.
- A locally customised solid waste management initiative has been designed and implemented for 750 households in 3 wards.
- A defunct rainwater harvesting structure in a local school was repaired and made functional.
- Applications for toilets for 240 households under the Integrated Low Cost Sanitation (ILCS) scheme were developed, approved by the local authority, and submitted to the Government of India (GoI).
- Revival of an ancient temple tank (Kalyani).