Chennai – Residents fear recurrence of flooding

Civic groups write to local bodies on steps taken in southern suburbs

TAMBARAM: Ahead of the northeast monsoon, the question on the minds of residents of the southern suburbs of Chennai is: Will the rainy season result in flooding, inundation and marooning of residential areas like the previous years?

Civic groups have written to the administrators of local bodies in the southern suburbs asking them about the steps taken to avoid flooding.

On Tuesday, Labour Minister T.M.Anbarasan and Kancheepuram Collector Santhosh K.Misra convened a meeting in Pallavaram Municipality in which engineers of the Public Works Department, officials and engineers of the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply and chiefs of civic bodies took part.

Making an effort: Residents want agencies to expedite improvement works before the onset of the monsoon. A view of the work on a water channel linking the Selaiyur lake with waterbodies. — Photo: A. Muralitharan

Making an effort: Residents want agencies to expedite improvement works before the onset of the monsoon. A view of the work on a water channel linking the Selaiyur lake with waterbodies. — Photo: A. Muralitharan

Officials and engineers were given instructions to identify the worst-hit areas and to take remedial measures, most important among them being creation of stormwater drains along arterial roads to link them to the nearest water channels and deepen, desilt and widen the existing branch canals that linked the various lakes in the southern suburbs.

In the past, areas around West Tambaram, Madipakkam, Ullagaram-Puzhuthivakkam, Keelkattalai, Pammal and areas in Alandur Municipality were among the worst affected. The primary reasons for this were choked stormwater drains.

More importantly, water channels linking many of the lakes in the southern suburbs of Chennai were neglected for years. Owing to complaints and public pressure, government agencies have started carrying out improvement works on some of these channels, like the main canal linking Keelkattalai Lake with Narayanapuram Lake and Pallikaranai marshland.

According to Mr. Anbarasan, efforts were being taken to prevent flooding in residential areas in Kancheepuram district. With specific reference to the southern suburbs of Chennai, the Minister said Mooverampettai and Madipakkam lakes were deepened at a cost of Rs.10 lakh each. Most of the flooding around Tambaram was due to Adyar river overflowing, caused by surplus water from the Chembarambakkam lake.

Attention was given to carrying out improvement works on Adyar river and also on branches joining it.The entire official machinery would be deployed to implement flood prevention measures, the Minister said.


Water Innovations Include Generating Electricity from Rainwater

A number of innovations are being highlighted at the Stockholm World Water Week event, some of them the result of corporate prizes.

I’ll start with the prize closest to my heart – the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (full disclosure: the global sponsor is ITT).

Eighteen-year-old Ceren Burçak Dag, of Nisantasi, Turkey, won the prize for one of the coolest projects I’ve seen (of course, I say that every year): Dag’s research may show us a way to harness rainwater to produce electricity. Seeing Dag on stage, along with the 50 other young nominees from 29 countries, was both moving and inspiring.

Some of the other projects were as well: Eileen Jang, of North Carolina and the U.S. winner, figured out how mercury builds in our water, which promises to help us better understand how it enters the human body. Mzwakhe Sifundo Xulu and Njabubulo Sihle Mbata, of South Africa, developed an inexpensive Auto Mechanical Tap that captures water from community faucets that would normally be wasted due to spillage. This promises to be a valuable tool for rural, arid communities, including their native South Africa.

One of the memories I will take away from this year’s Junior Prize is standing in front of one young nominee’s project and telling him it was very good. “Do you mean brilliant?” he said. I could only smile in response, so let me answer him now – yes, I meant brilliant.

We also heard from the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India. Since 1970, Dr. Pathak has worked to change attitudes toward traditional (and unsanitary) latrine practices in slums, rural villages and urban areas, and developed inexpensive toilets that have helped millions of Indians live better, healthier lives. Just as important, he is waging a campaign to abolish the traditional practice of manual “scavenging” of human waste from bucket latrines in India, while also championing the rights of former scavengers and their families.

If there is one thing I have learned from my more than 20 years of work in sanitation, it is that water, in this context, is fundamentally about dignity. So I also applaud Dr. Pathak and his work to promote this most basic of human rights. I can think of no better recipient of the award. It was an honor to meet him.

In other news, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) launched a report -”Water for Business: Initiatives Guiding Sustainable Water Management in the Private Sector“- which helps businesses find and use different tools to better manage water usage as well as measurement and communications techniques. This paper addresses an interesting challenge for those of us in the private sector: keeping track of all the groups participating in the water debate – as the WBCSD puts it, “who does what.”

The paper provides a side-by-side comparison of major initiatives, including, for example, the CEO Water Mandate and the Water Footprint Network. If you are interested in learning more about who is doing what, I suggest this is a good place to start.

Bjorn Von Euler, director of corporate philanthropy for ITT Corp., attended the World Water Week proceedings in Stockholm, Sweden. He is writing a series of reports on the event for Environmental Leader.

India-Karnataka-Save water for just Rs 400

BANGALORE: What does it take to save thousands of litres of rainwater? A meagre Rs 400.

A Bangalorean has de-bunked politicians’ theory that one needs to go to other states to study implementation of rainwater harvesting. M Rajamurthi, an LIC agent, has created a unique system at his house. And his guide was the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).

After two to three trials, he was successful in making a model that saved him over 10,000 litres of rainwater this monsoon.

Rajamurthi and his family were using a borewell and Cauvery water for their needs before he was struck with the idea of creating a rainwater system for himself. “I was shocked that ministers were going abroad to learn this. It is not a complicated one. All I spent on the pipes and filters was Rs 400 and that has saved me so much of water,” he said.

A pictorial diagram of saving rain water

A pictorial diagram of saving rain water

What Rajamurthi did was to pick up an anniversary book of BWSSB that had several models of rainwater systems. He read the guidelines in detail and tried implementing it. The first model did not work. On a second trial, he got it right.

“I used two kinds of filters — a 150 micron screen tea filter and a bucket tea filter. The water slopes from the terrace into a pipe and comes down to the filter. The solid residue settles at the bottom of the filter and water gushes up into the bucket where it filters again. The filtered water then comes down through a pipe and is collected in the underground sump,” explained Rajamurthi.

For drinking purposes, 25 members residing in the three-storeyed house are still using Cauvery water, but Rajamurthi says rainwater has been purified enough to be used for drinking as well. The terrace area is 30 by 40 feet, which fulfils the description specified by BWSSB to come under mandatory rainwater systems.

BWSSB chairman P B Ramamurthy will visit Rajamurthi’s house soon to see the model. On his part, Rajamurthi plans to start an NGO by employing plumbers who will be trained in making the system. Then he will fix it at other houses for Rs 100. “I have already fixed the system at four other houses and some houses at Bidadi and Ramanagaram,” he said.


India – Bangalore – BWSSB plans mega water treatment plant

BANGALORE: Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will construct the country’s second biggest water treatment plant at Torekadanahalli (TK Halli) to supply drinking water to the city under Cauvery IV stage II phase project.

BWSSB will be supplying 500 million litres per day (MLD) under Cauvery IV stage II phase and the water treatment plant will have a capacity to purify 500 MLD of water. Delhi Jal Board has constructed three water treatment plants of 550 million litres capacity.

Raw water from Cauvery river will be pumped from Shiva Anicut to TK Halli, which is at a distance of 18.5 km, through open channel and steel pipeline. The water will be purified and treated at TK Halli and will be pumped to the city in three phases, after treatment.

Nine working pumps and five standby pumps of high pumping capacity will be installed at TK Halli, Harohalli and Tataguni to pump water to the city, which is 98 km away from TK Halli. These pumps will be regulated with the supervisory control and data acquisition system.

The water will be pumped to the city in a steel pipeline of diameter 2700 millimetre and the water will be directed to six different ground level reservoirs (GLR) that are to be constructed at Jambu Savari Dinne, Uttarahalli, Parappana Agrahara, Gandhi Krishi Vignan Kendra, OMBR and Hudi.

These GLRs will have a collective storing capacity of 147 million litres of water and will help in regulating and diverting water to different parts of the city through 40 GLRs that are already existing and nine GLRs that will be constructed with aid from Bangalore Development Authority at different parts of the city.

All the aforesaid works will be undertaken under Cauvery IV stage II phase and will be jointly funded by Japan government and state government.

One of the BWSSB officials said, “Some of these works are yet to commence. If everything goes according to the plan, they should be completed by the end of 2012.”

By N R Madhusudhan –

Rainwater Harvesting Mandatory In Existing And New Buildings


Water scarcity has topped the list of concerns for a long time. Bringing some respite to this water-starved city is the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage (Amendment) Bill 2009, which makes rainwater harvesting mandatory in buildings.

Bangalore - Rain water harvesting

Bangalore - Rain water harvesting

But there is no time to sit and think. Both new and old buildings, houses and apartments need to have the system in place within nine months. Existing houses of 2,400 sqft and more, plus all new ones of 1,200 sqft come under the mandatory umbrella.
This could mean a huge saving of potable drinking water from Cauvery and groundwater sources.
Unlike recycled sewage water that still hasn’t been able to break psychological barriers, rainwater can be easily used for washing, cleaning, bathing, flushing and other uses. Currently, there are nearly 7.5 lakh BWSSB connections, and 4,000 to 5,000 new connections have been given in the past year.

But only 12,000 connections have adapted rainwater harvesting as of now, according to BWSSB figures. A huge task lies ahead to ensure the rest get it fixed. If you happen to have buildings of the size specified in the Bill but don’t comply with regulations, BWSSB staff will come and fix the system at your house. The charges will be drawn along with your water bill.
“It costs between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 to set up a rainwater harvesting system on
the roof. The cost varies, depending on the size of the house. If house owners fail to comply, then BWSSB, which is the monitoring body, will fix it. Within nine months, starting August, everything should be in place,” said A R Shiva Kumar, executive secretary, Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology
and principal investigator on rainwater harvesting.
An expert committee will be set up this week that will interpret the Act and spell out the regulation. “We will start with a campaign first. Architects, plumbers, masons and others involved will be trained. We will go door-to-door and talk to people about it. Notices about implementation will be given after that. A help desk will be set up by KSCST to address all doubts of citizens. In each layout, we will organize awareness programmes so that they get enough information and get ready within the stipulated time,” Kumar explained.

Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 to set up rainwater harvesting system on the roof
Cost varies, depending on size of the house Existing houses of 2,400 sqft and more, plus all new houses of 1,200 sqft come under the mandatory umbrella