Monday, March 22, 2010

Clean water still a pipedream for city

Clean water still a pipedream for city

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On World Water Day, at least 60 per cent of Bengaluru’s residents are still waiting for BWSSB to supply water to them. With lakes drying up and groundwater getting contaminated with untreated sewage and toxic chemicals, water shortage in the city may reach alarming proportions, reports Shilpa P.

While the world celebrates World Water Day around 60 per cent of the city’s population ironically does not have access to water supplied by the local board. Not all people can depend on borewells either as 70 per cent of Bengaluru’s ground water is contaminated with chemicals like fluorides and nitrates, and about 70 per cent of its lakes are polluted with sewage let into them by industries and homes.
So acute is the crisis that many are dreading the onset of summer in all its intensity over the next couple of weeks as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) even now supplies piped water to homes spread over only 300 sq. km, while the rest located in over 500 sq. km of the city are left thirsting for it.

Already short of 255 million litres of water a day, the city has to also

contend with its old and corroded water supply network laid as far back as 1964, which allows 408 million litres of the 900 million litres supplied every day to leak out. Sewage too seeps into the water supply system in many areas as a result of the damaged pipelines.
While the water shortage is somewhat eased by over 5000 wells which meet 5 per cent of city's water needs, these too are fast drying up.

Around 20 per cent of them have already gone dry, according to the department of mines and geology.
Also wells may be harder to come by in future as the ground water level in the city has fallen from 600 to 900 ft. While Bengaluru's drinking water is fast getting unsafe, a dip in its lakes is not recommended either. The latest three quarterly report of an annual study of 90 lakes being done by the Lake Development Authority since April 2009 confirms what has always been suspected — around 70 per cent of its lakes are fed by untreated sewage in the absence of a proper network to carry it to the treatment plants. In fact only 350 MLD of the 721MLD of sewage generated in the city finds it way to sewage treatment plants, while the rest enters its lakes, so much so that these water bodies which were once seasonal, have become perennial.

“These man-made lakes are now always full as they are constantly fed by untreated sewage,” says U.V. Singh of the Lake Development Authority. It is hardly surprising that a majority of the lakes have e-coli, phosphates, and nitrates much beyond the permissible limits.

Proper manage ment of water resources can ensure safe and sustainable clean drinking water supply for the city. By just introducing better waste water management, rain water harvesting, reviving the lakes and recharging the borewells, the city could have enough water for the next 50 years.
Vishwanath S.

Water management expert and advisor, Arghyam Thirty per cent of the city could have more water if its lakes are developed. Only treated sewage water must be let into the lakes and later subjected to anaerobic bacterial treatment. Then 1,000 borewells must be drilled around them to meet the city’s needs. Bengaluru, which is entitled to 18 tmc of Cauvery water, is presently getting 12 tmc. With the completion of the Cauvery stage 4 phase 2 project by 2012,it will receive another 6 tmc of water.

T. Venkatraju Chief engineer, BWSSB PROBLEMS Around 60 per cent of Bengalureans do not have access to BWSSB water.

As much as 43 per cent, or 408 MLD of water, supplied by BWSSB, is lost due to leaking old pipelines.

Ground water level has fallen from 600 ft to 900 ft in the city and 20 per cent of its borewells have dried up.

As much as 80 per cent of the ground water is contami nated.

Around 70 per cent of the city's lakes have sewage let into them.

SOLUTIONS Introduce proper waste water man agement and use treated water for nonpotable pur poses.

Revive 400 lakes and prevent sewage from enter ing them.

Drill 1000 borewells around the lakes.

Harvest rain to help recharge borewells.


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