In Indian villages, the water is supplied for just 30 minutes to 4 hours, once every other day to once a week based on water availability and electricity supply.
It is controlled by the local government, panchayat, and is operated by a valveman.
Though there is a great deal of variation in the way it is supplied, most villages get water around every week.
Unfortunately, these people are not aware of when the water is supplied due to the absence of a fixed schedule and the fact that water is individually supplied to small areas at different times.
This is crucial because they need to manually collect the water by either filling pots or turning on a motor that pumps water up to a small tank.
Some people have underground tanks but this uncommon.
In villages that we have worked in, 5000 liters of water costs $12 from a water tanker. If a family misses a chance to collect water In a village that supplies water every week, they will have to buy a tanker for themselves. This is $12 regardless of how much water they actually need and is very expensive for people who live in suburban areas of India. Fortunately, there are a few villages that have a water pump that allows them to fill pots with water. The problem is that they are usually far away and require the villagers to walk back with pots full of water.
The majority of people do not turn off their tap or even have a way to do so with a faucet. This is because there is no incentive and it makes it easier to know when water has been supplied. This causes a large portion of the water to be wasted by running down to the gutter before and after it is collected.
Water wastage is even worse in villages who get water more frequently. If they get water for 30 minutes every other day and it takes 10 minutes for people to notice that the water is being supplied, 33% of water is wasted and lost in the ground.
Water conservation is very important in these drought prone areas of India. The local government buys around two to three tankers for villagers whenever their local source of groundwater has been depleted. Additionally, that amount of water is almost never enough for all the families. This forces groups of families to buy extra tankers for themselves.
Water Notifier creates a service that notifies the villagers when the water is supplied. This prevents the families from missing a chance to collect the water. It makes it more encouraging to save the water with faucets. More importantly, after families get used to the service, it allows the government to supply the water more frequently and for less time while the families still get the same amount of water, effectively eliminating most wastage. By doing this, the village is less likely to run out of ground water.
"Over the summer of 2017, I asked my parents about their life in India. That is when I learned about the water issue. We confirmed that the problem still exists. We started to look into the problem and we were confident that it could be solved with current technology. I went ahead and learned electronics. In the end, I built an SMS based device that could both detect the water and notify the people. It also had a built-in registration system.
Over winter break, we went to India and implemented the service. Service provider issues with SMS caused unacceptably long delays in message delivery time. It worked for 45 days but we decided to stop the service because of multiple issues with using SMS. Learning from my mistakes, I started to work on a new device.
During the next summer, I finished the new system and ran the service from America for two months. With the help of some people in India, we were able to set up everything in Hubli and run the service in 5 villages to test different methods."
- Rohin Manvi
We have implemented and ran the service for four months in five villages: Hanchinal, Tajpur, Dhanyal, Nagthan and Baratagi. There are two subsections in Tajpur, one is drinking water and the other is the regular water supply.
The service is operated slightly differently in each village to test different ways of implementing and managing the service.
The service in Hanchinal uses the automated version of the service.
This, by far, has been the most successful out of all five of the villages.
The service in the other villages uses the help of each valvemen to tell us when to notify the people.
We have tried different ways of managing the valvemen, but this is usually inconsistent.
Some of the villages were notified with SMS, but we quickly realized that that would not work.
We have concluded that the automated solution that I (Rohin) built works consistently. Confident with the results, I made the device easily manufacturable.
We are now ready to implement this service in 20 villages around Hubli. The system will be expanded for the additional traffic. Devices will be manufactured in China and be sent to India for assembly. The devices will then be installed in the villages and the villager’s phone numbers will be registered. After all this is done, 20 villages will not have to worry about missing a chance to collect water or depleting their groundwater source. Hopefully we can expand further in the future.