Chennai to get fourth desalination plant, city reservoirs have enough water to last till summer

A top Chennai Metro Water official told The New Indian Express that the 400 MLD desalination plant which is likely to come into operation by 2024 could reduce the water stress immensely

Published: 14th October 2020 02:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th October 2020 02:23 PM   |  A+A-

Desalination plant at Nemmeli near Chennai

Desalination plant at Nemmeli near Chennai (File photo | P Jawahar, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The city's thirst for water could be quenched in the next four years as Chennai Metro Water has started looking for international bidders to build the 400 MLD (million litres a day) capacity sea water reverse osmosis desalination plant at Perur along the East Coast Road in Thiruporur block of Kancheepuram district.

Not only that, Metro Water is also looking to use recycled water for recharging water bodies from where it will be used for drinking water purposes and is awaiting funds from the World Bank.

A top Chennai Metro Water official told The New Indian Express that the 400 MLD desalination plant which is likely to be operational by 2024 could reduce the water stress immensely. The addition of the newly added areas has increased the demand to an estimated 1100 MLD of piped supply of water but currently Chennai Metro Water is struggling to supply 831 MLD of water to the city.

Currently, the newly added areas are totally dependent on overhead tanks supplied by Metro Water as well as the ground water which dries up during the summer

The bids have been called after the state government accorded administrative sanction to establish a 400 MLD desalination plant for Rs 6,078.40 crore.

This will be the fourth such plant for the metro. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide financial assistance for the project. The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board had prepared the detailed project report (DPR) and submitted it to the government on July 23, 2014 seeking financial assistance from JICA.

This project will be ready by 2024. The first desalination plant for the city was set up in Minjur in 2003 to supply 90 MLD water to Manali, Ennore, Madhavaram, Kathivakkam, Tirukottiyur, Tondiarpet and Vysarpadi, and the second plant at Nemmeli in 2010 of 90 MLD capacity supplying water for Sholinganallur, Neelankarai, Injambakkam, Karappakkam, Thorappakkam and Perungudi.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami laid the foundation stone for the third plant at Nemmeli to supply 150 MLD water to Velacherry, Alandur, St. Thomas Mount, Medavakkam, Kovilambakkam, Nanmangalam and Kilkattalai and other areas.

Once all the desalination plants start to function, Chennai will have the capacity to supply 730 MLD of drinking water. This will further be supplemented by treating the grey water to use it for drinking purposes. The project is being taken up by academic institutions like IIT Madras where recycled water will be blended with freshwater in lakes and again pumped to be treated and distributed through the drinking water supply network.

"We will be using IIT's  ultra-filtration membrane — an important water purification technology used for production of high-purity water — to remove pathogens. The membrane has an additional carbon filter which removes the residuals, following which it is ozonated — made free of bacteria," said the Metro Water official. The tertiary treatment plant will come up in Nesapakkam and Perungudi and Chennai will be a role model for cities in usage of grey water for industry as well as drinking water purposes, he added.

Meanwhile, the official said that Chennai is unlikely to face any water crisis during the summer season next year.

"We currently have 5 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water in our reservoirs and will be getting additional water from Krishna river in Andhra. Currently, 700 cusecs of water is being supplied from Kandaleru reservoir and the Andhra government has promised to release additional water. Chembarambakkam reservoir is getting filled now with Krishna water. We expect the reservoirs to have at least 8 TMC feet of water before the monsoon," said the Metro Water official.

This means Chennai is unlikely to face a water crisis this summer even if the rains fail the city.

Chennai reservoir levels:

Full capacity: 3231 million cubic feet (mcft)
Current storage: 1295 mcft

Full capacity: 1081 mcft
Current storage: 109 mcft

Red Hills
Full capacity: 3300 mcft
Current storage: 2042 mcft

Full capacity: 3645 mcft
Current storage: 1619 mcft

Total reservoir capacity: 11257 mcft
Current storage: 5,065 mcft


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