At the inauguration of Delhi Jal Board’s first ‘toilet-to-tap’ project in 2015, the Chief Minister took a sip from a clear glass, aiming to send a message that the water was completely safe to drink. Almost three and a half years later, the project at Keshopur is yet to find any takers.
According to DJB vice-chairperson Dinesh Mohaniya, people for whom the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) was meant to cater to are not keen on using the water. “We then decided to send the water to homes in the DJB residential colony nearby, but even that did not work. The acceptability for the concept is not there. And this is not just the Indian experience. Across the world, people have had trouble accepting water straight from STPs,” Mohaniya said.
In California, which also has a ‘toilet-to-tap’ project, a majority of treated water is set aside for industrial use. The plant was set up by Social Awareness Newer Alternatives (SANA), a charitable trust which then handed it over to the DJB for operation. Treated water underwent strict testing and conformed to the WHO guidelines, DJB had said at the time of the project launch.
The water utility has now come up with another idea to use water from this plant, and from other STPs, for daily use. “We had approached the Union Ministry of Water Resources, asking them to accept our proposal, whereby we can take treated water from our STPs and release it at Palla, where the Yamuna enters Delhi. We will then lift the same amount of water at the Wazirabad pond and send it to the treatment plant again. The river, which naturally cleans water, will play its role and it will be treated again at water treatment plants. This will make sure the quality is maintained,” Mohaniya said.
DJB treats sewage and releases as much as 240 MGD (million gallons daily) of treated water into downstream Yamuna. Around 90 MGD of this is used to water plants at parks by civic agencies.
“Once we are able to pick up this treated water from the river channel, our water production will also increase,” said a DJB official. Delhi produces 900 MGD of treated water every day and has a capacity to treat 950 MGD. The board has given permission to start construction of two more plants at Sonia Vihar and Dwarka.