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COVID-19 outbreak puts focus on water quality: Is India drinking safe water

The lack of access to clean water in India is claiming about 2 lakh human lives almost every year and more than 50% of the rural households do not enjoy the “luxury” that is clean water, according to a United Nations report.

SNS | New Delhi |

The outbreak of novel coronavirus has led to a greater acknowledgement of the menace of unclean water. According to multiple surveys, people have become more concerned about the quality of water they consume since the pandemic.

The concern is rightly placed as tonnes of sewage contaminates our water bodies on a daily basis. The lack of access to clean water in India is claiming about 2 lakh human lives almost every year and more than 50% of the rural households do not enjoy the “luxury” that is clean water, according to a United Nations report.

Not just in villages, a majority of people living in urban centres in the country also do not have access to clean potable water. While those who have their houses built in metro cities have the option to install purifiers, the large migrant population which lives in rented accommodations is forced to depend upon water cans that are often dirty and the standard of water bottled in it is questionable. Untimely delivery of water cans further adds to the woes.

Even the extent of purification provided by the conventional RO systems is not up to the mark as it is too much of a task for people to get them serviced regularly. Not to forget, traditional purifiers don’t always guarantee safe water and they provide no option to track the water quality. The basic cause behind this is — water purifiers need a service depending on input water quality and water consumption and not on the basis of duration, contrary to what the companies promote like service after six months or after 1 year.

It has often been seen that people call for service when they start feeling a change in the taste of water. Then the technician of the company takes a few days to attend to your house. In such cases, people end up consuming unclean water for a lot of days. And if they fail to realise the change in taste, then unclean water is consumed by the client for months.

However, in some good news, there has been a significant consumer shift towards technology-based water purifiers globally, according to a report by the Inter-Service Press Agency. Especially after the outbreak of the virus, people are looking for solutions that provide them with good water quality and also let them track the performance of the purifier.

Technology to the rescue

In light of such prevailing conditions, it has become imperative for us to adopt sophisticated technology for safe drinking water. Unlike other sectors, technological advancements have come rather slowly in the area of potable water. However, there is a silver lining.

The purity of water can be guaranteed with the latest purifying system which leverages the sophisticated Internet of Things (IoT) technology to address the menace of unclean water. The IoT-backed purifiers are a step ahead of the conventional ones as they can offer multi-stage Reverse Osmosis (RO) and other superior water purification technologies including Ultraviolet (UV), Ultrafiltration (UF), and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). These smart water purifiers also have auto-maintenance systems as it has often been found out that people with RO systems in their homes don’t opt for regular maintenance. The Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies predict servicing in advance and keep the customer safe from unclean water.

For more convenience of the customer, these purifiers also have the support of a customized mobile app which can be used to renew the subscription of a water filter. The latest IoT technology in water purifiers can also help in collecting real-time data on the quality of water being supplied in households. The app, through Bluetooth, will be able to inform the consumers about the real-time performance of the purifier. For upholding consumer’s privacy, the data, thus generated, can be encrypted.

This performance analysis assumes significance as the residents of several cities have said that the quality of supply water not just differs from season-to-season but also on a day-to-day basis. The comprehensive data, so compiled, can also be of immense help to the government in framing policies and chalking out strategies for specific areas.

Such a heavy-tech purifier may sound too futuristic but on the contrary, an IoT-based water system has become a necessity, especially for the residents of urban cities who are out for work for a large part of the day and need customized solutions so that they can enjoy water supply when they need it.  Besides, the cost of installation and maintenance of such systems can be kept minimal to benefit the maximum number of people. Private firms can also come up with subscription-based models for these purifiers and offer ‘pay per use’ facility to the customers.

The future roadmap

In the times to come, the conventional approach in which purifiers are being sold today — just like TV and fridge — would change completely. Currently, more than 60% of the people who use conventional purifiers don’t call for its regular maintenance. Thus, like everything else, even the model of companies involved in the business of water purifiers must become more simplistic. Significantly, the conventional water purifiers are fast making way for self-monitoring water purifying devices.

Needless to remind, consuming unclean water can have adverse health impacts and force one to take an unwanted break. It is therefore upon people to make a wise choice in regards to water purifiers as this will keep them safe from a lot of health hazards.

(Expert Inputs by Vijender Reddy, CEO, Drinkprime)