Being a tourist and water nerd in Mumbai 

The Water Innovation Lab India team has been going for a few days and I am excited for more. Here is what we have done so far and what I have learned! 

Connections are best made through shared experience. On my first day a few of us had a great experience of seeing the sea in a neighborhood near our hotel – Bhandra. Our taxi driver told us repeatedly how amazing his car is and forced me to take this driving selfie: 

Our first evening was about getting to know each other and the facilitators. We told people about our dreams, learning goals, countries, and exchanged gifts. I love the attention waterlution pays to making a space beautiful, it’s very conducive to openness and sharing:

On our first full day together we visited a storm water pond (which started out as a recreational lake), a water treatment plant and a wastewater lagoon (prior to outfall to the ocean). All good stuff, the municipality does a lot for this crazy huge city. One of the lessons I learned was that the distribution system is the reason tap water isn’t safe to drink – the water is treated well at the source. Water doesn’t flow under pressure 24 hours a day (what a huge challenge to get enough water for this massive city!) So there is a lot of chance for water pipes to get contaminated (intrusion of seawater or accidents during construction of new infrastructure). 

I also learned that locals have found it difficult to get information about how their water and wastewater is managed here – one participant told me that he has been trying repeatedly to get tours of these facilities with no response. Also they are very reticent to discuss challenges for fear of political repercussions. 

The storm water pond is Powai Lake. It should only be receiving storm water but also has some illegal inputs of sewage and their plan is to put a weir in the outlet pipes to divert dry weather flow (aka sewage since there is no groundwater infiltration) back to sanitary sewers. Simple. But it left me with the question – why not disconnect the illegal connections and offer to connect them to the main sewer line instead ?

I am taking things in and listening actively. I find the speakers so far have been thin on answers, but participants from India have deep knowledge and many of my questions and more. 

And we also spent a good deal of time having fun in central Mumbai and seeing the sites ! 

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