Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Economics of being a Water Tanker Operator

This blogpost is written with the explicit intent of getting a volunteer/intern who can help us with a specific problem.

Problem StatementMany apartments/layouts on Sarjapura Road (elsewhere in Bangalore too)  have excess treated STP water - after flushing/gardening. Since there is no UGD in the area, tankers are called to take this water away and there is a price that is paid for this transportation (alternately this water is disposed off quietly ot the nearest low lying area). On the other hand Parks/Trees on medians need to be watered. Water (Ground water) is separately bought for this watering of trees. Ideally it would be a good match if this excess treated water could be used for these landscaping purposes. We think that this is an idea worth exploring and could result in a scalable solution for management of treated waste water - especially in areas where there is no BWSSB water supply and groundwater is depleting very quickly.  And yes - there will be issues like chlorine/smell/pathogens in treated waste water - but we will have to deal with that in a separate post

The solution should be such that it is environmentally wise as well as ensures that the expenses/profits are managed optimally.

This where the economics part actually starts
  1. A water tanker/honeysucker (vaccuum pump truck for picking up sewage) costs between 12 lakhs to 15 lakhs to put together (About 10-12 lakhs for the chassis + 1.5 lakhs - 2.5 lakhs for the body building + 50k - 60k for the insurance/registration)
  2. Banks finance upto 80% of the chassis cost. On an average the installments for a loan of about 4.5L is Rs 16,100/- monthly for a period of 3 years. (works out to 5,79,600 paid back in 3 years)
  3. The drivers are paid a salary of about 10k - 12k per month. The operator typically also buys them insurance. 2 drivers work on near 12 hour shifts so that the tankers run all 24 hours. Making about 24 trips a day. So we can put salary costs at about 25k per tanker
  4. Annual insurance is 30k
  5. Diesel at about Rs 65/- per liter and gives a mileage of 4.5km - 5km to the liter
  6. Maintenance costs (servicing, tyre changes, other repairs) are at about 60k per year
  7. A tanker load of 6000 liters costs about Rs 500 to the buyers. The tanker operator himself is typically buying this water from the borewell operator at about Rs 270/- per tanker
  8. The costs of picking up sludge/waste water 4,500 litres is Rs 1,500/- 
How do we get all this to work ? And will this work at all ? 

If you would like to know more/help out with the specifics - please reach out to

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