While a few areas in the city have begun buying water even before the peak of summer, following a simple building rule made more than a decade ago by the Greater Chennai Corporation could have ensured better management of available resources in the form of grey water, experts said.
The rule made in 2003 made greywater reuse mandatory. Greywater is the waste water from washing, bathing and kitchen. This accounts for almost 70 per cent of the total water usage in households.
Talking to DT Next, Indukanth Ragade, who has been guiding flat complexes to set up greywater recycling units, explains a method, “The water used for bathing and washing contains micro quantities of dissolved material. The soap components can be removed, and it can be done simply by using plants.
The water can be diverted to a bed of plants to clean it and it goes into the soil. To get it back, we need the revival of the traditional dug wells. They have apparently become extinct, but they can be revived. I have revived more than 100 wells in flat complexes.” The water from the wells can be drawn again into an overhead tank and then it can be used for non potable purposes, he added.
He added that plants like the water-loving canna or kalvazhai, heliconium (100 varieties of them are available) and seppankizhangu or colocasia also enjoys a lot of water.
Dr Sultan Ismail, ecologist, added that it is a mental block. “In my experience, kitchen waste water can also cause problems. We use a lot of oil in our kitchen, apart from powders and scrubs and the water becomes thick. However, when you leave out kitchen waste water, you can use the rest — water used for bathing and washing clothes.”
The experts add that a small space is more than sufficient for these systems to function well. Ragade says, “Unfortunately, builders and architects are not interested. In some large gated communities, all the water used is put in one line and a sewage treatment plan is installed. This is an expensive proposition.”
A source from the Chennai Metro Water and Sewage Board, says that while the rule is on paper, it has not been implemented. “There are a lot of misconceptions about the space required for the recycling. Moreover, planning authorities have to look at it more seriously to ensure residents adhere to it. If included in development regulations, it can be implemented more effectively.”
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