CHENNAI: The Kilpauk Water Treatment plant, where Chennaites first got the taste of treated water, is set to enter its 104th year of existence.
The 66 acres where the plant was conceived by J W Madley, who was the brain behind the project in 1914 has all the remnants of British era and most of the machinery are considered an engineering marvel.
Regulated water supply system to Chennai City was put in place in 1872 on commissioning of the scheme formulated by British era engineer James Fraser for “Piped Water Supply System”.
To tap the water from the Korataliar River, a masonry weir of six feet height was built across the river at Tamaraipakkam, about 27 km from the city. The surplus water flowing in the Korataliar got diverted into the Cholavaram Lake.
From the Cholavaram Lake, water was diverted to Red Hills Lake through a 4 km Lower Supply Channel. The proposal of James Fraser confirmed that the Red Hills Lake would remain as the terminal storage point of water drawn from Korataliar River.
The plant came into being after the open canal that was supplying water from Red Hills to Kilpauk shaft, which was later distributed to George Town and Mylapore, got polluted resulting in water-borne diseases.
Madley developed 14 slow sand filters, which are still part of the plant. “It followed the principle that bacteria will eat bacteria. “The water through this process was 99.9 per cent pure,” says a Metrowater engineer.
It was in 1927 that Chennai got chlorinated water after Madley introduced it. The plant was still using the technology provided by Madley, it shifted to Rapid Gravity Filtration system in 1954.
After 1954, several schemes for improvements and expansion of the system had been implemented and commissioned. Chief among them are the construction of 10 km long and 146 million litres carrying capacity conduit and rapid gravity mechanical filters of 45 MLD capacity, raising the total capacity to 180 MLD, erection of electrically operated pump sets and laying of additional distribution mains to reach water to consumer points. The plant currently provides 270MLD to Chennai.