CHENNAI: Four years ago, residents of a gated community in Kanthanchavadi consumed more than 1.6 lakh litres of water every day. They were at the mercy of private tankers, shelled out a lot of money and were always worried about erratic water supply. But ever since they installed digital water meters to each of the 136 houses, they have completely stopped buying water from private tankers.
Residents said that this radical change was only possible after they came to know the amount of water they were using per day. Moreover, once the system of 'pay for what you consume' kicked-in, everyone started using water so judiciously that their requirement came down to less than 50,000 litres a day.
“Water meters were an eye-opener for all of us at Appaswamy Cityside. We found that unknown leakages in the toilets was the main culprit behind water wastage. More importantly I saw a huge change in everyone’s attitude once they started to pay for the water they consumed,” said TK Subhramanyam, secretary of apartment who brought in the system of metered water.
Five meters are attached to the five main water inlets of a three BHK house while four are installed in two BHK houses. The meters not only keep a count of the number of litres used, but also send alerts about leakages and overuse. Other than houses, inlets to sumps and to the swimming pool also had a digital meter attached.
A few kilometres away along OMR, an apartment complex in Navalur has reaped similar benefits thanks to the water metering system they have had in place for a year. The complex with 100 houses was managing with water from private tankers and groundwater. But now with the help of water meters they have cut down their usage by 30 percent and, altogether, stopped buying water.
“Not just water, but they are saving on their electricity bills too. As their usage has come down, the number of hours they run the motor to draw groundwater has drastically come down. Now, only during the summer they buy one or two loads of water from private tankers,” said Selvakumar AB, director of WEGOT, a water management solution company, who supplied the water meters to both the above apartments.
This apartment has about 300-odd meters, fitted both at the source level and at each service connection. Residents paid Rs 2,000 for each meter as setting up charges and pay Rs 150 for each meter as rent every month. “As the meters we provide as advanced, intermittent supply will not hinder with the readings. Ever since the water crisis, many commercial and residential establishments have been approaching me for setting up the metering system. People have started taking water conservation very seriously now,” added Selvakumar.
This is indeed true. Many residents, especially those who don’t get continuous water supply, are voluntarily opting to use water meters. One such case is an apartment in Okkiyam Thoraipakkam. “During the height of the water crisis, we needed 12 loads of 24,000 litres of water but got only four such loads from private tankers. This made us think about a more sustainable method and hence decided to install these digital meters,” said Thirunarayan NS, a resident of the apartment which will install water meters in a month.