16 April 2019

Implementation of NaWaTech Projects

Author/Compiled by
Sandra Nicolics (BOKU University)
Günter Langergraber (BOKU University)
Ajith Edathoot (Ecosan Services Foundation)

Executive Summary

This factsheet is the second part of the 'guide to successful NaWaTech projects' that provides helpful tips and tricks for practitioners intending to design, implement and/or manage a 'NaWaTech project'. After the 'technology selection and design' factsheet, the "Implementation" factsheet describes important lessons for being better prepared for managing tendering and contracting, and smoothing the construction and commissioning stage. The module is completed by the 'safety and O&M planning' factsheet. Besides general considerations, the experiences gained when implementing the 'NaWaTech case studies' are described.

The contents of this factsheet are results of the Indo-European Project NaWaTech- “Natural Water Systems and Treatment Technologies to cope with Water Shortages in Urbanised Areas in India”, co-financed by the EC and the DST – India.

Main Considerations

Factsheet Block Body

After finalising the design, the site has to be prepared for project execution and executing parties need to be assigned. While this process varies depending on the decision making bodies and funding agencies, the overall motive and steps are relatively similar in most projects. In the following, main aspects to be considered during tendering and contracting as well as during the actual construction stage up to the final acceptance and hand-over of the systems are summarised:

Tendering and Contracting

The process of tendering helps to ensure fair and equitable treatment of competing agencies and to select the most efficient and economic implementing agency in a transparent manner. Main steps to be followed for tendering in India is provided in additional reading material listed below (GOVERNMENT OF INDIA 2005 and JHA K.N 2015).

A general remark in this regard is that the availability of qualified execution companies (e.g. construction firms, suppliers for equipment, etc.) can be a limiting factor – especially in case the technologies are rather new to the respective sector. Therefore, it is advisable to verify the real attitude and background of potentially involved companies. Otherwise, if a company for example only assigns very low-skilled manual workers and does not supervise and organise them on-site, even simple execution works requiring civil engineering task (such as the realisation of a constructed wetland or the construction of a reinforced concrete tank) could generate problems and delays in the realisation. Therefore, the tendering process is a sensitive phase during project implementation.

The following aspects should be taken into consideration during tender preparation and release:

  • Planning the timeline for tendering needs to take into account delays due to a potentially low number of execution firms responding to the tender, administrative hurdles (e.g. clearances and permissions) and limited local availability of construction material, respectively, logistic requirements for material purchase
  • Good baseline data and designs are needed to develop good tender documents (see Design phase). Without detailed analysis of the baseline data and detailed design, the soundness of the tender documents are at risk.
  • Planning of budget needs to take into account that for some materials no official unit rates might be available and, therefore, market surveys need to be carried out.
  • Qualified contractors need to be in place to get enough response for tender. Qualifying criteria should involve experience with the respective technologies, material management and procurement.
  • After selection of a company, sensitisation/training activities of the executing staff for implementing these technologies might be required, since experiences with the proposed technologies are limited.
  • Contracts should be made stringent to limit delays to a minimum and to prevent performance issues (e.g.: assignment of unskilled labour). Thus, the contracts need to detail the reimbursement rules and how to deal with deviations along the project.
  • Since O&M requirements should be taken into account during the design and execution phase and to assure the genuine interest of the executing parties in fulfilling quality works, tender for construction can be combined with a tender for O&M, e.g. for the first year(s) of operation. This way, knowledge on system functionality and the incorporated components can be transferred to the operating party without major losses. However, this also means that already during the selection of a construction company, their capabilities to carry out O&M need to be evaluated.

Construction Monitoring

The quality of the used materials as well as the quality of the construction works itself are key for long-term system performance. It is therefore fundamental to assign well-trained work supervisors during the realisation phase that can not only supervise the quality of the works, but also help the contractor in the management of the several activities.

 Construction at the Indradhanushya Museum in Pune. Source: SERI 2015 

Construction at the Indradhanushya Museum in Pune. Source: SERI (2015)

During the construction phase, a project implementer should assure, respectively, be aware that:

  • High quality material is used by the contractor – if no certified materials (e.g.: filter gravel) are available, individual tests (chemical analysis, hydraulic conductivity analysis, sieve curves) have to be carried out on-site.
  • Contractor needs to understand the system to be able to properly implement it – awareness raising might be necessary as a preparation of the actual construction works.
  • Changes from the original detailed design while construction need to be communicated timely and properly – by both sides, i.e. the contractor and the system implementer.
  • Contractor needs to put in skilled labour (to be involved in the contract).
  • Safety routines during construction process should be part of the contractor routines. On-site checks are necessary to actually monitor and verify workers’ safety.
  • Contractor needs to record the work progress and progress monitoring needs to be carried out regularly.


Commissioning has to be made an integral part of the activities – even when the project is already delayed or in a rush to finish. Commissioning should, therefore, involve not only the actual hand-over of the systems, but also the final acceptance of the construction works, the hand-over of respective O&M manuals and materials, as well as guidelines for the training of future operators. Summarised, the following aspects and activities should be taken care of in the context of system commissioning:

  • Final acceptance of the construction works and check of the soundness and integrity of the systems involving all the system implementers, the project client and the construction company.
  • Preparation of sound O&M manuals involving a description of the system units and their functionality, O&M and trouble-shooting SOPs (Standard Operation Procedures) and a spare-part list as well as monitoring routines (see O&M planning).
  • Preparation of training materials for operators and supervisors.
  • Agreement on mentoring activities for the period of system stabilisation (depending on the technologies used).
  • Both constructors & O&M personnel need to be brought together at this phase to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Costs for initial monitoring needs to be considered.

Experiences from the NaWaTech Case Studies

Factsheet Block Body

In this section, experiences made during the implementation phase in the context of the NaWaTech project are summarised. This involves both encountered challenges and proposed solutions to overcome these problems in future projects.

In the NaWaTech project, one of the major learnings during the implementation phase was to face the limited experience of executing companies (e.g.: construction contractors) with implementation of the technologies projected under NaWaTech. There was limited knowledge and understanding of the technologies’ functionalities, resulting in major deficiencies, for instance during construction or material procurement.

Thus, one major learning for future replications (in India) was to foster or foresee trainings of companies for implementing these technologies.

Further challenges/solutions are described for the three phases tendering, construction monitoring and commissioning below.





Low number of applicants during the tenders, since there were not enough qualified, experienced contractors locally available. Thus, room for selecting the best contractor was rather limited.

The tender requires more detailed preparation (e.g.: descriptions of expected work needs to be clearer).

Additional preparatory “ground work”: e.g.: pre-bid meetings for discussion of practical suggestions.

More extensive promotion of the tenders in relevant portals, more channels of communications.

The tender documents were not detailed enough and excluded relevant items (which was only realised when the contractors were already selected).

Tender requires more detailed preparation based on a more precise baseline survey including tender items.

Delays throughout the construction phase due to administrational procedures (e.g.: financial clearances) (especially relevant for implementers associated to the governmental sector).

Include buffers in time planning (relevant during tender preparation already).

For new technologies, some items may not be available in the schedule of rates of public departments, which required additional market surveys and clearances before releasing the tender.

Designers need to be made aware of locally available alternatives. Include buffer time in the planning process for such clearances.

Some activities were not foreseen in the tender.

Detailed site survey on soil strata, water tables, existing service lines should be made mandatory before construction to ensure all activities are included in tender stage itself.

Not all materials, which were used during construction, were mentioned in the tender straight away. Deviation from the material list due to unavailability caused considerable delays – since research on potential suppliers had to be carried out.

Market survey has to be carried out for evaluating the availability of all required items within the local markets and for identifying potential suppliers. Specification of local alternatives to be considered while design. Supplier details need to be brought into the notice of the contractor while construction.

Construction Monitoring


Lack of records during the construction works.

Capacity building of the contractor on quality assurance and maintenance of logbooks.

Insufficient safety of workers.

Stricter working guidelines need to be put in place (as part of the contract) and enforced through strict construction monitoring (easier in bigger contracts).

Delays as contractor didn’t put in skilled labour and time schedule could not be met due to understaffing or insufficiently skilled staffing.

Sensitisation and capacity building of contractors prior the start of construction phase required.

Changes/deviations from original design and time line during construction not being communicated properly.

Discussions and meetings happening on site with the implementing agency to be recorded and the minutes to be communicated to the design team.

Deviation from targeted construction quality due to low quality material and labour.

Intensive validation of materials and work and inclusion of performance target in the contracts.



Contractors lost interest by the time of commissioning (as the project was already delayed or a rush to finish).

Commissioning to be made an integral part of the activities and support the contractors.

Commissioningprocess new for involved stakeholders.

Clear guidelines to be given, including pre-training of personnel, checklists and intensive mentoring.

Management and execution of construction and O&M not matching.

Both constructors & O&M personnel to be brought together  at this phase to ensure smooth transition.

No proper monitoring after commissioning (“initial monitoring”) e.g.: until the systems stabilises.

Costs for initial monitoring to be put in tender and construction costs.

Library References
Further Readings

Compendium of Natural Water Systems and Treatment Technologies to cope with Water Shortages in Urbanised Areas in India

The Compendium of NaWaTech Technologies presents appropriate water and wastewater technologies that could enable the sustainable water management in Indian cities. It is intended as a reference for water professionals in charge of planning, designing and implementing sustainable water systems in the Indian urban scenario, based on a decentralised approach.

BARRETO DILLON, L. ; DOYLE, L. ; LANGERGRABER, G. ; SATISH, S. ; POPHALI, G. (2013): Compendium of Natural Water Systems and Treatment Technologies to cope with Water Shortages in Urbanised Areas in India. Berlin: EPUBLI GMBH URL [Accessed: 11.12.2015]

Tender Document for a Natural Wastewater Treatment System for COEP Campus

This document can be used as an example of a tender document that was produced for the NaWaTech pilot plant involving anaerobic treatment and vertical flow constructed wetlands implemented at the COEP campus in Pune, India.

COEP CAMPUS OF ENGINEERING (2015): Tender Document for a Natural Wastewater Treatment System for COEP Campus. In: Tender Document produced during NaWaTech project:

Tendering process in India

This one-page document gives a brief overview of the six steps (Preparation of Estimate, Pre Bid Conference, Notice Inviting Tender, Tender Document, Opening of Tenders and Award of Contracts) and associated activities/contents to be followed in open tenders in India.

EDATHOOT A. (2015): Tendering process in India. An Overview. In: Project document based on the subsequent two reading materials :

Alternative Versions to