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Going green? Treated water runs into trouble in Chandigarh

Waste to water: Though sewerage water is available in abundance, the MC is unable to optimise its use due to its foul smell that puts off people.

punjab Updated: Jun 07, 2018 11:39 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Going green,Treated water,tertiary treated
RAISING A STINK: The foul smell from tertiary treated water used to irrigate a park in Sector 27A has passers-by scrambling for their hankies.(Karun Sharma/HT)

Though faced with water shortage, the City Beautiful continues to waste precious potable water on irrigating parks and household lawns as the Municipal Corporation’s efforts to replace it with tertiary treated (TT) water are yet to pick up.

Generated by treating sewerage water, TT is gaining acceptance the world over, but the waste water recycled by the corporation is raising a stink instead of gathering a fan following. According to MC records, irrigation through tertiary water is mandatory on over 3,600 acres comprising parks, green belts, institutional areas and private lawns, which require 20 million gallons per day (MGD).

With sewerage water available in plenty, there is no dearth of supply. MC already has two TT plants of 10 MGD each inside the STP facility at Diggian near Sector 48 and 3BRD, and four intermittent underwater reservoirs in Sectors 28, 29 and 48 pump water from these plants and send it to the end user through a special piped network. But the current usage doesn’t meet even half of the target, and the reasons are not hard to find.

Smart solution
  • Executive Engineer Harish Saini said there are plans to upgrade both these plants and control the smell issue under the Smart City project.
  • Vijay Premi, an official involved in the project, said it will take at least six to eight weeks to prepare a report on upgrading TT plants to bring the BoD level to below 5 MG/L to remove the smell. “The execution may take time depending upon the recommendations in the project report,” he said.
  • Recently, a study conducted by UT’s Department of Science & Technology in alliance with Panjab University’s Department of Microbiology, recommended that bad odour in TT water be reduced by keeping the stored (treated) water exposed to air while performing aeration by stirring the water before supplying it to the end user. The report also recommended additional chlorination with chemicals such as Sodium Hypochlorite and Gaseous Chlorine.
  • Harish Saini said this report by Dr Naveen Gupta is being reviewed.
  • TT water is also required to be put on the SCADA network meant for real time monitoring of the system to improve its efficiency.

100% TT network awaited

The main problem is of infrastructure. UT, which was the first in the tricity to commission a tertiary water project in 1991 for irrigating its mammoth gardens and sector parks, is yet to lay a pipe network to reach the targeted areas,

The TT line has so far covered only 68% of the household gardens and 70% of the neighbourhood parks across the city. A major push is required to ensure 100% coverage of institutional areas, including schools and colleges with huge green spaces that consume a lot of potable water. The TT supply is yet to reach the Manimajra block as well.

A 100-crore proposal for 100% coverage of all the targeted areas is held up as the MC does not have the money to execute the project.

Last week, MC commissioner KK Yadav said they will seek the administration’s help to execute the project to ensure better compliance. Frequent breakdown of TT supply was also discussed at this meeting. Yadav proposed the construction of more underwater reservoirs, especially for bigger parks, to decentralise the TT supply.

High on smell, low on usage

A senior official of the MC public health department said that given the existing coverage of TT water network in Chandigarh, the treated water used should ideally cross 14 MGD per day, but the current supply is not more than 8-9 MGD.

While the exact use of TT water under various heads is not known since the supply is not metered and has fixed charges, it is well known that most of the supply is being used for irrigating public parks and green belts, and individual households are shunning it.

Data obtained from MC reveal that UT has 6,870 households (1 kanal and above) where it is mandatory to have a TT connection as per the MC’s water bylaws approved in 2011. But so far only 3,000 houses have obtained this connection even though the TT supply has reached over 4,500 houses.

Generated by treating sewerage water, TT is gaining acceptance the world over, but the waste water recycled by the corporation is raising a stink instead of gathering a fan following.

The compliance in institutional areas is even more dismal. There are 410 institutions, including government and private schools, colleges and clubs with sprawling gardens, yet not more than 70 institutions have availed of these connections so far even though 160 units have access to TT.

Ward No 1 councillor Maheshinder Singh Sidhu, whose area spawning Sector 1 to 12, has a huge expanse of green, says most people don’t use TT due to its stink. Even those who have the connection avoid using it. He asked the MC to overcome the problem of smell to find more takers for TT water.

Sidhu also raised the issue at the May 24 house meet, seeking the intervention of Commissioner KK Yadav to popularise the use of TT water. Sector 21 councillor Ravi Kant Swami too echoed his concern.

Sector 8 resident Paramjit Kaur Sethi, who has a TT water connection, says gardeners often complain of the foul smell and supply breakdowns. “We are forced to use treated water because of the inadequate supply of regular water. The MC must sort out the smell,” she said.

BS Gill, president of Chandigarh Golf Club, which has been using TT water for several years now, says apart from the stench, there are supply breakdowns which must be addressed. He said 80% of the club’s green area is irrigated during the night so that there is no smell by the time people start playing in the morning.

How can we stop the smell?

MC’s internal reports and recent presentations in the UT advisory council meeting reveal that tertiary water is not treated properly, leading to a foul smell. MC’s section officer Harinderpal Singh, in charge of the TT underground reservoir in Sector 28 that supplies to the northern sectors, says that the pollutant (BoD) level in tertiary water sourced from STP Diggian is above 20 mg/l though it should be below 5 mg/l for a smell-free supply.

“We have recently installed a dozer for additional chlorination on an experiment basis to bring down the BOD level and it has shown results too, but sometime supply from Diggian carries a lot of sludge, which again raises the BOD level,” he said.

According to him, BOD level in treated water coming from 3BRD STP is comparatively lower, but it does not provide a sustained supply for want of a storage tank.

First Published: Jun 07, 2018 11:10 IST