In a move to address the causes of the nation’s ongoing power crisis, India’s energy ministry is reportedly working on a plan to help coal-fired power plants to use treated sewage water rather than fresh water for cooling.

A number of power plants have been forced to shut down as drought in some states has made fresh water unavailable. Maharashtra State Power Generation Company’s (MSPGC) 1150 MW Parli coal-fired power plant has been offline due to lack of water since July 2015, while state-owned utility National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) 1 GW supercritical Mouda plant has also been shut down since last year.

Power minister Piyush Goyal (pictured) has said that while installing water processing facilities at power plants would increase operating costs for those plants, the costs could be recouped by either government payments or a small rise in power prices.

However, an editorial in newspaper the Indian Express said that the government’s plan would require significant investment and would not be legally binding.

NTPC is reportedly already considering the use of treated municipal sewage water for new units it is building at the Mouda plant, with the water coming from a sewage treatment facility operated by Nagpur Municipal Corporation. The company is also reportedly building its own water treatment plant that will process 200 million litres per day.

Earlier this month, Goyal said India’s thermal power plants have moved to address the water shortage by installing technologies such as dry ash handling systems, ash water recirculation systems and zero water discharge systems.

Goyal also noted that plants could install air-cooled condensers, but that this would have “cost implications”.