Planning to start a water-bottling plant in Noida? It would be a profitable business proposition as every health conscious resident in the city uses either an RO system for water purification or depends on bottled water for drinking.
However, there is no shortage of water. The supply exceeds the demand by around 80 million litres per day (MLD) and is consumed by an estimated 8.5 lakh population. But the problem is that in many areas the groundwater has traces of calcium and magnesium, hence hard water.
There has been a steady rise in demand for safe and clean drinking water. The residents are ready to shell out more for bottled or canned water.
Water purifiers and RO systems are in high demand as considerable number of families has installed them. The present situation is that against the demand of 167 MLD, the authority supplies 248 MLD of water to residential and non-residential areas.
To bring down the hardness, 48 MLD of the Ganga water is presently mixed with the water supplied. This initiative began in 2005 but the Ganga water supply remained the same ever since, despite the rise in water demand.
According to officials, Noida residents get about 50 per cent subsidy on water. Besides, Noida has a unique distinction of having an exclusive master plan for water supply and sewage in the country. Also, the city is working for attaining "zero water wastage" status by 2020.
With the authorities having failed to provide quality water, residents have adopted their own means to tackle the problem. They are waiting for the arrival of another192 MLD of Ganga water which is expected by 2013 as per official estimates.
"At present, we depend on RO systems and water purifiers to meet our drinking water requirements. The water quality is not up to the mark and contains certain substances, which lead to health complications in the long run. Various health complications like dry-skin, colitis, gastroenteritis are common," said Sushil Aggarwal of Federation of Noida RWA (FONRWA).
However, the residents also claim that turbidity levels are also high. Officials admit that turbidity may be due to chlorination and presence of hard water layers.
"The water quality is bad. Earlier, we used to boil the water. But now we depend on water purifiers. Officials should also check the condition of groundwater on a regular basis," said Commodore (Retd.) Lokesh Batra, an RTI activist from Sector 25.
However, project engineer of Noida Authority Samakant Srivastava said quality of water is up to the mark and contains no toxins.
"We have proper cleaning and disinfection procedures in place. Although there are traces of Calcium and Magnesium, addition of Ganga water reduces the hardness. The treated water completely is safe," Srivastava said.
The additional quantum of Ganga water would come at a cost of Rs 136 crore. Officials said by 2020, Noida would need about 590 MLD of water as the population is expected to grow to 20.92 lakh. To conserve water, the UP government and Noida authority have decided to make installation of water harvesting systems (WHS) in plots of more than 300 metres and above mandatory. Also, WHS installation in 64 parks of the city is underway.
'Groundwater is hard but safe'
Chief Engineer (water), Noida
What is the water treatment process?
Micro-filters have been installed at the source of supply, at the storage level and from where water goes to sectors and block lines. Also, salt-based systems have been installed for chlorination in underground reservoirs and overhead tanks. Additionally, random water samples are taken from users on a weekly basis
What is the level of hardness in water?
Noida's groundwater is hard. As per WAPCOS Company recommendations, Ganga water is mixed with ground water to dilute the hardness and TDS level. A separate Ganga water supply network has been set up. Moreover, increased use of water purifiers is attributed to more health-conscious residents.
Does the water lead to health problems?
Noida water is safe. Groundwater, which is a natural source, is hard in some pockets due to presence of mainly calcium and manganese in excess, ranging from 108 mg per litre to 838 mg per litre. As per norms, it should not be more than 300 mg per litre. Hard water poses no health risk but can be troublesome to use.
(As told to Kapil Datta)
RO systems to the rescue
Prangan Apartments, Sector 62
Abha Singh, a resident of Prangan Apartments, pays annual charges of Rs 14,000 for RO-purified water, a system that was setup by the society in 2002 at a cost of Rs 5 lakh.
"The monthly maintenance cost comes to around Rs 15,000 for the society. A can of 20 litres water is supplied per flat and residents can also get additional bottles according to their requirement," Singh said.
The idea of installing the water treatment plant was mooted when residents agreed to pay extra charges in order to find a permanent solution to the water problem.
"The quality of water is poor here and the treated water is supplied to all 70 apartments. I am very concerned about my family's health," Singh said.
She added that there were days when the water supply fell short and an underground tank with two chambers was constructed to store drinking water and tubewell water separately.
(As told to Kapil Datta)
'More treatment plants needed'
Dr. Pratibha Singhal
Sector 20, Noida
As the water supply in the sector is unfit for consumption, the doctor and her family used mineral water bottles.
"Tap water is extremely filthy and salty. We instead use bottled mineral water even for cooking. Food tastes different when cooked in mineral water and takes more time to boil," Singhal said. As the monthly cost of the mineral water bottles was going beyond Rs 2,000, the family decided to switch to an RO water system.
"As the TDS level is more than 2000, normal water purifiers are not helpful. We could afford the water bills but what about the common man who cannot bear the additional expenditure," Singhal said.
She now advises her local patients to boil water before consumption.
Singhal is also perturbed about the claims of Noida authorities that they were mixing Ganga water to reduce the TDS levels. "On several occasions, the Ganga water supply is not available especially when the Ganga canal is cleaned by the Irrigation-department. How does the Authority manage during this period?" she wondered.
She says more treatment plants should be set up at under-ground reservoirs. "Two water-line systems should be setup to get rid of the water problem. In one supply-line, drinking water should be supplied and the other could supply un-treated water for daily chores," she said.
(As told to Kapil Datta)