CHENNAI: Ahead of the Northeast monsoon, the Chennai Metro Water is inspecting rainwater harvesting (RWH) structures, including the ones at government schools that often face water shortage. More than six lakh buildings have been surveyed so far.
In the process, it has now come to light that the structures are not being maintained. The rainwater harvesting awareness drive was started on August 30 and it aims to cover all 10.19 lakh buildings within Corporation limits.
Many schools do not have adequate water facilities. In 2019 (drought year), Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board had identified government schools without rainwater harvesting structures and installed them.
"Though all government schools are equipped with RWH facilities, they are completely blocked due to poor maintenance. Due to this, rainwater is not being collected at all despite bountiful rains over the last year. We have now instructed them to desilt all RWH structures," said a metro water official involved in the awareness drive in Teynampet zone.
Over the last four days, as many as 6,44,240 households in 16,106 streets were inspected. "We observed that residential complexes maintained them better than commercial buildings. Most of the people were not even aware that RWH structures had to be desilted before rains," said the official from Tondiarpet zone.
The officials said data will be forwarded to the Greater Chennai Corporation as they are the ultimate authority to pass an order and levy fine.
Every year, the water board conducts inspections, except last year due to the pandemic. In 2019, it was
found that 1,36,631 houses have RWH structures in good condition, more than 37,000 houses needed improvement and about 65,000 did not have it at all.
"Firstly, the mindset needs to change. Instead of looking at installing RWH structures as a mandate by the government, they must realise its importance. It is getting better from 2019," said Pritham, an expert.
He said that while most opt for percolation pits, it is better to go for recharge wells. "Percolation pit is a simple hole dug into the ground that allows water to flow in through a pipe. The problem is that this process work only for a year or two. As soil gets accumulated, which is natural with rainwater, the pipes get clogged and stop working. It is not possible to clean these pits," he said.