Water Balance Pilot Project to Treat Wastewater and Recharge Groundwater Inaugurated in Chennai

In its efforts to demonstrate a model that could make Chennai water secure, City of 1000 tanks, a strategy developed by a multidisciplinary team, inaugurated a pilot project on the reuse of wastewater with nature-based solutions and improve groundwater recharge at Little Flower Convent School in the city on Wednesday.

This is part of the concerted efforts of City of 1000 tanks, a strategy by a consortium of various organisations led by Netherlands-based Ooze Architects and Urbanists. Inaugurating the project, Minister for Municipal Administration K.N.Nehru said the water balance model funded by Netherlands government would replenish aquifer and ensure water security in the Little Flower Convent, which has about 300 students, and it could be scaled up.

Similar initiatives could be replicated in waterbodies in Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram districts to ensure water supply to Chennai. The Municipal Administration and Water Supply department would work in coordination for the project, he said.

Underlining the Chennai Metrowater’s initiative to use tertiary treated wastewater, the Minister said nearly 10% of the industrial water needs of the city is met through supply of reclaimed wastewater.

The project in the school used advanced waste water treatment techniques and constructed wetlands, an artificial wetland with canna plants to treat greywater. Besides harvesting rainwater, anaerobic and aerobic treatment methods are used to treat 27,000 liters of sewage generated daily. The treated wastewater would also be released into an aquifer through infiltration gardens. The programme is an initiative of Henry Ovink, the Special Envoy for International Water Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

The team had collaborated with organisations like Madras Terrace, IIT Madras, Care Earth Trust, Paperman Foundation, Rain Centre, Biomatrix Water, Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants, Goethe Institute, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities and Uravugal Social Welfare Trust.

Eva Pfannes of Ooze Architects and team lead, City of 1000 tanks said the idea was to improve groundwater table and arrive at a holistic solution to various issues affecting Chennai through nature-based and integrated solutions. The initiative would be upscaled to pioneer locations like Mylapore and schools along with Greater Chennai Corporation.

Jayshree Vencatesan, managing trustee, Care Earth Trust said the Trust would monitor the impact on biodiversity in the garden and quality of treated wastewater. Besides reducing burden on urban sewer infrastructure and flooding, the model would help urban cooling and increased biodiversity.

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