India relies heavily on groundwater, which is depleted due to over-extraction for irrigation, industrial and domestic use. Most of groundwater is used for agriculture and the balance for domestic and industrial use.

The nation confronts issues rooted in water-intensive crops, inefficient irrigation methods, leaky water distribution networks, and inadequate wastewater treatment infrastructure. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation have led to widespread water pollution, contaminating rivers and groundwater, making it unsafe for consumption. Meanwhile, the distribution of water resources remains uneven, with some areas struggling with severe scarcity while others experience surplus.

Against this backdrop, India is looking at a fascinating concept called water green credit. It is designed to promote water conservation, harvesting, and usage efficiency, including wastewater treatment and reuse. Water green credit has the potential to profoundly influence water conservation and sustainable water management.

Optimising consumption

The fundamental idea of water green credit is that every entity consuming water should assume responsibility for optimising consumption and be accountable for restoring the quantity consumed. Entities falling short of their obligations can then purchase these units for compensation. This market-driven mechanism mirrors the dynamics of carbon credits.

Water green credits emerge as an innovative strategy aimed at incentivising responsible water consumption and restoration. The methodology for generating credits should incorporate thresholds for each activity founded on resource equivalence to maximise its potential. Digital processes could ensure the seamless administration of the programme, encompassing registration, issuance of green credits, and trading.

Embracing the water green credit concept necessitates considering several factors:

The policy framework model should outline qualifying guidelines, criteria and benefits in terms of water green credit units. Rewards for water conservation efforts should vary based on terrain classifications like safe, critical and over-exploited.

The standards for water efficiency should be established across agriculture, industries and domestic use. Water green credits encourage the adoption of efficient crop varieties, irrigation methods and techniques like drip irrigation, thereby motivating optimal irrigation schedules and soil moisture monitoring. Implementing rainwater harvesting or restoration of water bodies will replenish the groundwater table.

Benchmarks for water intensity in the industrial sector should be defined, spurring the adoption of water-efficient technologies, closed-loop systems and water reuse practices. The pollution potential of industries should be factored in. Adopting water-efficient technologies and practices would receive impetus through water green credits. Also, the industry should get rewarded for investments to conserve water through check dams, irrigation systems, etc., created for public benefit.

Besides, it is critical to establish water efficiency benchmarks for commercial buildings, hotels, educational institutions, and hospitals. Water-efficient practices like recycled water for cleaning, waterless urinals, and implementing leak detection systems will be encouraged.

Public awareness campaigns regarding water conservation and the benefits of participating in water green credit programmes are essential. It is time to set standards for water-efficient fixtures and appliances like star ratings of electrical appliances. Water green credits would encourage the installation of rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling systems in residential buildings.

Collaboration among government agencies, private entities, NGOs, and institutions will drive the success of water green credits.

The writer is CEO, Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd