How Chennai residents are tiding over water crisis

Representative purpose only. Photo: Pixabay

From turning to reuse of every single drop of water to grey water recycling, residents of water-starved city of Chennai are coming up with their own solutions to tide over the ongoing water crisis.

If the recharge wells for storm water which were promoted by the Mylapore MLA R Natraj across the locality in about 70 vulnerable spots have benefitted in the area, reducing their dependence on water tankers, the residents are now mulling over blue green strategy. The strategy will look at setting up a garden with select specials of plants and herbs which will treat grey water. Grey water recycling is touted as the most effective forms of water recycling, where water from sinks and bathrooms are diverted to plant beds rather than getting mixed with sewage (black water) with species like canna indica are recycled to be used for washing purpose, saving as much as 40 litres per day.

K Viswanathan, a resident of Mylapore explains that the pilot project will be set up at the PS High School campus where three schools function. The water used in the washbasins will be collected and treated in the garden reused in the toilet again to reduce water consumption. “At the community level, we will look at having similar gardens in houses, where water used for bathing, washing and in the kitchen can be used to recharge the bore wells or the water table so that the whole neighbourhood can benefit from it,” he said. Some of the native varieties like vettiver (a kind of herb) can be used. Several independent flat dwellers have resorted to the grey water recycling mechanism to reuse water.

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The recharge wells in temple tanks are also being promoted by the MLA.

Small but effective steps

With metro water supply being completely unheard of for a few months now and private tankers charging anything above ₹3,000 for 9,000 litres of water, residents of Raja Street, a locality in RA Puram are turning to ingenious tactics like collecting water from the air conditioners installed in the homes. Ganga Sridhar, a resident of the area, said, “We have been rationing the use of every drop of water in our apartments. The water collected from the ACs is being used for having a bath or for the plants. The water is much better in quality, as the borewells are filled with saline water at the moment. Though we have recharge wells and rain water harvesting systems installed, we still have to wait for rains for them to yield any benefit. However, through these small but effective measures, we are able to not just save water but also spend less on water.”

Long -term solution

For several years now, residents of Chitlapakkam have been trying to get the local body to act on the looming crisis – the reduction of the massive Chitlapakkam lake to a cesspool. However, after several requests and campaigns fell in deaf ears, they have now decided to work out a long term solution for water crisis by reviving the lake.

The residents have therefore begun working on the sewage and garbage that has been dumped in the lake. Sunil Jayaram, a resident, and member of Chitlapakkam Rising, a movement by residents, said, “We have turned to bioremediation by adding the bio enzymes from Art of Living to purify the water that has been contaminated by incessant dumping. We will also work towards desilting the lake to recharge it so that at least the next year, we do not have to worry about water shortage from the next year.”

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