At the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B), soon sewage water will be cleaned naturally and re-used on campus.
No fancy apparatus or technology is required, just a sandbox planted with selected reeds and plants will make dirty water clean. The method, called sub-surface constructed wetlands (CW) process, was originally developed in Germany. It will be improved at IIT-B for better results.
“A constructed wetland bed is a natural treatment system that does not need energy to clean water. It also traps the foul odour below the wetland bed and treats sewage in a continuous process once the wastewater is released into the wetland beds,” said Professor Shyam Asolekar, who is heading the pilot project on campus.
A CW acts as a biological filter that removes organic matter, nitrogen, pathogen and fecal coliform from the sewage with the help of aerobic reactions. The research project, Saph Pani, costing over Rs. 2 crore is being carried out by the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE), IIT-B. It is being co-funded by the European Commission and IIT-B with a focus on enhancing natural wastewater treatment systems in India.
The first pilot-scale CW research facility is being built on half an acre area adjoining sewage receiving-cum-pumping sump on IIT-B campus. It will treat wastewater generated by about 250 students. The plant will treat nearly 100 litres sewage per person per day. The other two research stations will be located near the Student Activity Centre and the Devi Temple inside the IIT-B campus.
“The purified water can be used for gardening, flushing toilets, washing clothes and even irrigation. Our research will focus on how such desirable results can be obtained from the natural treatment system. The first plant will be fully functional by March next year,” added Professor Asolekar.