At a time when IPL matches have been shifted out of Maharashtra due to water scarcity, the BMC has wasted around 100 crore litres of treated water fit to be used for non-potable purposes, such as gardening, over the past two years.
At present, treated water is discharged into the sea owing to a lack of distribution network and a dispute between sewerage operations (SO) department and hydraulic (HE) department over laying the distribution network and its cost analysis.
Around 1.5 million litres per day (MLD) sewage is being treated at a sewage treatment plant in Banganga since June 2014. This works out to 100 crore litres in two years.
The SO department’s proposal is that this treated water can be used for gardening in Raj Bhavan gardens, Kamala Nehru Park, Priyadarshini park and the gardens in ministers’ bungalows. The move is aimed at saving lakhs of litres of potable water.
Currently, the SO department provides tertiary treatment and disinfection through ozonation at the Banganga plant.
The SO department had moved the proposal in 2014 for laying the distribution network with the HE department. SO said that its expertise was in treating sewage water and the hydraulic department was better equipped to lay the distribution network. However, the hydraulic department claimed that unless there were fixed customers and a policy to charge for the water supply, laying pipelines would be a futile exercise.
“Laying the distribution network is not the issue. One of the major hurdles is to find consumers who will buy recycled water from BMC at higher rates than the easily available water,” said an official from the hydraulic department.
“There may be some gardens to which this treated water could be provided but we need to also have consumers from the buildings in the Malabar Hill area. Without that, how can we go ahead with laying pipelines?” he added.
Ramesh Bamble, deputy municipal commissioner, said that laying the pipelines is not feasible considering the cost required. “Laying the pipelines is not feasible as apart from laying the distribution network, it would also require pumping to take water to one of the gardens. It is very costly. Instead of going ahead with this, it is now being considered that a filling point can be made at Banganga for tankers and the water could be used for municipal gardens or for fire brigade,” said Bamble.
Despite several attempts, additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Mukherjee, in charge of the SO and HE departments, was not available for comment.
At present, there is 15 per cent water cut across the city, since August 26, 2015, with daily water supply of 3,275 million litres against the demand for 4,200 MLD.