A Brief About Water Supply System – Meaning, Models, Need & Quality

No life, if no water is an undeniable fact. From bodily needs to daily lifestyle requirements water serves all the purposes. The day water doesn’t run down our taps or sprinkles from our shower everything tends to come to standstill. Did you know, there are a lot of mechanisms, infrastructure and labour involved in running your water taps daily? In this article we learn just that, we will find out all about the water supply system in India and also touch on some interesting facts about it.

What Is A Water Supply System?

A water supply system can be explained by a set-up that is accountable for providing water for various purposes and to various places. It can be by a public utility, commercial organisation, community or by even by an individual. The water supply consists of pumps and pipes through which water is supplied to the population, around the globe. Considering the significance of water in daily life, the service has to ensure continuity, quality and intensity. The type of water supply system depends on population and places (urban/rural), it depends on the quantity of water consumed. 

  • The water supply systems receive water from various locations like groundwater (aquifers), surface water (lakes and rivers), and the sea through desalination.
  • Water has to be treated well before being sent from place to place. There are various steps involved in the treatment of water like purification, disinfection, chlorination and sometimes fluoridation.
  • Water once treated either travels under gravity or is pumped to reservoirs.
  • Once the treated water is utilised, wastewater is discharged into a sewer system and then it reaches the sewage treatment plant before being discharged into a river, lake, or the sea or reused for landscaping or irrigation.

How Is Water Supply Quality Ensured?

As mentioned earlier, the water supply quality has various aspects like continuity, quality and intensity and the extent of responsibility and responsiveness of service providers towards customer complaints. The quality is also dependent on the quality and level of pollution of the water source. Let’s look at the three major parameters to ensure an adequate water supply service around the globe.

Quality Of Water Being Supplied

  • There are numerous parameters to determine the quality of water.
  • When it comes to drinking water there are microbiological and physicochemical dimensions to it.
  • According to scientists, in public water supply systems water should be at least disinfected through the process of chlorination or and the use of ultraviolet light.
  • It might need to undergo further treatment, in the case of surface water.

Continuity Of Water Supply

  • It is seen that in developed countries the continuity of water supply is taken for granted. Whereas for the developing countries the problem is severe as sometimes the water is only provided for a few hours every day or a few days a week.
  • Mostly for the informal establishments, the problem is even more severe because they are often poorly connected to the supply network and have no means of opting for alternative sources.
  • It is estimated that about half of the population of developing countries receives water on an intermittent basis.

Pressure Of Water Supply

  • The pressure of water is a very important aspect when it comes to determining the quality of water supply services.
  • In case there is poor management of water supply systems, the water pressure can be so low that it would result in only a trickle of water or so high that it would cause damage to the plumbing fixtures and waste of water.
  • Pressure in an urban water system is typically maintained either by a pressurised water tank serving an urban area, by pumping the water up into a water tower and relying on gravity to maintain constant pressure in the system or solely by pumps at the water treatment plant and repeater pumping stations.

What Is The Need For Water Supply Systems?

  • A water supply system is responsible for a constant, and adequate supply of water from the source to the end-users.
  • Water supply systems are complexly and deeply associated with the economic well-being, security, and social fabric of a community. It is as important as any other essential lifeline systems like electric power, natural gas and liquid fuels, telecommunications, transportation, and waste disposal which are spread around the globe

Who Regulates The Water Supply Systems In India?

  • As per the Indian Constitution, the responsibility of providing drinking water supply and sanitation is with the state governments as it falls in the state list in the seventh schedule.
  • The responsibility for providing water supply and sanitation is shared at the central and state level by various Ministries.
  • At the central level, three ministries are responsible for the upkeep of the water supply sector. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is responsible for rural water supply and sanitation, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and the Ministry of Urban Development
  • In the urban setting, the institutional arrangements for water supply vary greatly in Indian cities. Here, a state-level agency is responsible for planning and investment, while the local government looks after the operation and maintenance.
  • In rural areas, there are about 100,000 water supply systems in India. In some states, the responsibility of the water supply service is partially transferred from State Water Boards and district governments to Panchayati Raj Institutions.

What Are The Types Of Water Supply Systems?

The water supply system has to ensure continuity and quality. Therefore, to achieve adequate flow and pressure the water supply systems are built in four ways. Let us find all the models of water supply systems.

Ring systems

  • A ring or a circular water supply system has a main supply that forms a circle or ring around the area of distribution.
  • In the ring system, the branches are cross-connected to the supply mains and each other.
  • This type of system has similar advantages and disadvantages to gridiron systems and is suitable for towns and cities with well-planned roads and streets.

Radial Systems

  • In the radial type of water supply, the distribution area is divided into different distribution zones.
  • Here, each zone has a distribution reservoir in the middle and on an elevation from which lines of water supply run towards the distribution district periphery radially
  • The radial water supply system offers a swift distribution and requires simple design calculations.

Gridiron Systems

  • In the gridiron type of water supply system, the mainline goes through the central part of any area, while the sub-main branches go out perpendicular to the mainline.
  • In this type of system, all the individual pipes are interconnected, therefore, there are no dead-ends.
  • This type of water supply system is built for cities that have a rectangular making that resembles a gridiron.

Dead-end Systems

  • In the dead-end water supply systems, there is a mainline that runs through the town or city with sub-main lines branching out from the left and right.
  • This system is considered the best choice for cities and towns without any definite road layouts.
  • These sub-main lines in the system are then divided into several branch lines that provide service connections.

What Are The Elements Of A Water Supply System?

A water supply system consists of several pipelines, pumps, storage facilities, and various essential distribution accessories that are required for an efficient water supply in both urban and rural settings. Let’s find out the main constituents of a water supply system.

  • Water source – The place of origin of drinking water can be groundwater, lakes, rivers, rainwater, reservoirs, canals and saltwater.
  • Water treatment facilities – Depending on the source of the water, various purification techniques are applied so that adequate water treatment facilities are provided.
  • Transmission & distribution systems – The water after treatment is transported from the source via water mains and sub-mains to places and people.
  • Storage systems – The storage system includes water tanks, reservoirs, and water towers. Also, in smaller systems, pressure vessels and cisterns may be used too.
  • Pumping stations – For the sake of maintaining an optimal pressure of water, additional pressurizing equipment, called pumping stations, are installed too.
  • Essential Accessories – The essential elements are those that provide support to the water supply system and ensure a smoothly running system. These can be valves, service lines, generators, meters, fire hydrants, and other accessories.

We hope you found the article informative. We hope you have a better understanding of the water supply systems and various aspects related to them. For more such interesting and instructive content stay connected with us.

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