Sewage reaches sea through river, triggers toxic foam on Chennai beaches

“We are planning to deploy a buoy to monitor and forecast seawater quality, off Marina beach.’

Published: 30th November 2019 06:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2019 12:52 PM   |  A+A-

Not aware of the potential harm, visitors at Pattanipakkam beach enjoying themselves amidst a thick blanket of froth on Friday | DEBADATTA MALLICK

Express News Service

CHENNAI: For the second time in a month, Chennai beaches witnessed heavy frothing. On Friday, about a seven-km stretch of beach from Foreshore Estate to Tiruvanmiyur was covered by a thick blanket of froth giving a sick feeling to residents and beach-goers. Express reported on similar frothing on October 30. 

When contacted, the authorities concerned said the recent heavy downpour in Adyar basin has increased the flow in the river, which coupled with constant influx of untreated sewage that contains high phosphates gushed into the sea through Adyar estuary creating a churning effect, which led to frothing.

There is a public health concern as well. People, especially children visiting beaches like Marina, Tiruvanmiyur and Besant Nagar, can develop skin problems if they come in contact with the froth, it is pointed out.

K Bharathi of South Indian Fisher Welfare Federation said though frothing will not impact fishing activity, sales will drop as buyers may refrain from purchasing. “We complained to authorities on several occasions in the past, but no action has been taken.”
D Sekar, Member-Secretary, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), told Express the board had collected samples and was analysing it. “The results of samples collected in October shows that all key parameters like pH, dissolved oxygen are under prescribed limits. Only phosphate content is high, which is contributing to frothing.”
Buoy off Marina beach to monitor water quality

Pravakar Mishra of National Center for coastal Research (NCCR), whose team monitored water quality of Chennai coastline, acknowledged that the frequency in which Chennai beaches are frothing is worrisome. “We are planning to deploy a buoy to monitor and forecast seawater quality, off Marina beach.’
The equipment has arrived and undergoing calibration at Chennai fishing harbour. “Currently, the sea is little rough and once the conditions improve, we will deploy the buoy. The buoy will be deployed about two kilometre into the sea. It will measure several parameters and trigger warning if there is depleting dissolved oxygen level that may threaten marine organisms and affect the coastal community too,” he said.
Mishra said the sensor-equipped buoy will measure about seven basic water quality parameters, including pH, turbidity, chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen level, and give real-time data at an interval of three to six hours initially. 

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