This Bengaluru-based startup takes water from sewage treatment plants, and converts it into potable quality water that can be used for household purposes, and even for drinking.
India is already on the brink of a water crisis, with 21 cities looking at running out of groundwater by 2020, according to a report by the NITI Aayog. This situation is likely to further worsen in the next few decades, as the country’s population increases to 1.6 billion by 2050.
A desire to work towards improving the water situation prompted Vikas Brahmavar, the founder of Boson White Water, to move back to India from the UK in 2008.
At first, he manufactured products that enhanced water quality in both rural and urban areas, but quickly realised that the larger issue was water scarcity. He explains, “After coming here, I saw firsthand how large volumes of water are emptied into drains every day without being recycled or reused. There had to be a way to change this.” Vikas believes that recycling and reuse will be critical components of sustainable water use in the future.
Founded in 2011, Bengaluru-based Boson White Water takes recycled water from sewage treatment plants, or STPs, and converts it into potable quality water that can be used for household applications such as toilet flushing or gardening (and, technically, even for drinking).
It is common for IT parks and malls with centralised air conditioning to purchase water in tankers and treat it on-site for use in cooling towers. In the Boson White Water model, the customer only pays for the recycled water, which costs less than tanker water -- with the organisation bearing the installation and operational costs. This eliminates the dependence on tanker water, with Boson White Water recycling the facilities’ sewage water, making a closed loop system. The service also provides an online dashboard to clients for real-time monitoring of water quality and quantity.
As with any novel business concept, starting out was not easy and came with its own set of challenges. After researching water management models in countries like Israel, Singapore and Namibia, Vikas and his team experimented extensively before developing a prototype that would be practical as well as sustainable for cities in India. It also took some time for potential clients to grasp the sustainability and cost benefits of using recycled water.
In the early days, the company had to counter the common misconception that recycled water from STPs may not be hygienic. While it is mandatory for large apartment complexes and campuses to have STPs, bad odour and slight discolouration act as barriers for the reuse of reclaimed water.
According to an internal study conducted by Boson White Water, only 20-30 percent of water is actually utilised in such buildings, while the rest is wasted. “Roughly 5,000 large apartments and IT complexes exist in the city of Bengaluru, with an average usage of around three lakh litres of water every day. These numbers show that a significant volume of water is going to the drain and can be recovered with the Boson White Water system.”
Water, water, everywhere...
The company has now installed its system at some of the biggest IT parks and apartment complexes - Vakil Satellite Township, RMZ Ecoworld and Soul Space Arena Mall - in Bengaluru, saving an estimated 35 lakh to 48 lakh litres of water per month. This is equivalent to filling up 500 to 800 water tankers having a 6,000-litre capacity each.
Piyush, a resident of the Vakil Satellite Township, Bengaluru says, "Our layout has saved huge quantities of water since installing Boson White Water to recycle STP treated water. The water report from the system is consistently giving us great quality of water. It can save between 10,000 to 20,000 litres of water per day.”
Boson White Water has set itself an ambitious target of saving 500 crore litres of water per year by 2020. Vikas is confident that the water management IoT market and the water efficiency monitoring market will continue to grow in the years to come.
“I believe that the wastewater management market has yet to mature in India. People currently have STPs as a requirement for construction approvals, but this view has started to change. They are interested in saving water and money, and not just implementing something for the sake of norms. We believe that more people will join our mission to save water.“
(Boson White Water is one of the 10 entrepreneurs participating in TheCityFix Labs accelerator programme.)
The authors are Tanuka Mukherjee and Sahana Goswami. Tanuka (@TanukaMJ) is part of WRI India’s communications team. Sahana (@anahas8) works on urban water issues at WRI India Ross Center.