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A fourth desalination plant will bring Chennai closer to water security

  • fourth desalination plant will bring Chennai closer to water security
    Chennai. Credit: Rickymartin007/Wikipedia

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (Metro Water) is seeking international bidders to construct a 400 MLD (million litres per day) seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant, the fourth one to supply the city, reports the New Indian Express.

The new plant, to be located at Perur, along the East Coast Road in Kancheepuram district, is expected to start operations in 2024. The project will receive financial assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The city has already two desalination plants, and a third 150 MLD plant is being built, to be ready next year.

The water crisis in Chennai made the world news in June 2019 as the reservoirs that supply drinking water to the city nearly run dry, while residents also had to contend with groundwater depletion. The crisis prompted extreme measures to provide relief for water shortages, such as a scheme to transport water by rail over 200 kilometres from Jolarpettai.

Subsequent rains filled the city’s reservoirs and Chennai Metro Water declared the city out of its water shortage in November 2019. But the threat of dry spells looms over this city as population growth and development continue to increase the water demand, while precipitation patterns are more variable than ever. Improving water management is paramount, not only to address droughts but also floods which also threaten the city.

Metro Water is also looking into water reuse to recharge water bodies, and is seeking funds from the World Bank for this purpose. Water will then be treated and distributed through the water supply network, for industry as well as for drinking water use. The project, with the involvement of academic institutions like ITT Madras, intends to use ultrafiltration technology for tertiary treatment.

The authorities also secure water through interbasin transfers, such as the scheme to bring water from the Krishna river to fill the city’s reservoirs. Rainwater harvesting is another source of water Chennai relies on since 2003, used to replenish groundwater, with mixed success.

With a combination of investments and effective water management the city is making strides to increase the water supply and avoid water shortages in the future even if rain is scarce.

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