Updated: January 29, 2021 10:46:49 pm
The ever-growing population and water demand in Saphale and Umerpada towns in Palghar district, along with poor water distribution, had snapped regular water supply to the residents here.
Following a visit to Palghar two years ago, a team of researchers from IIT-Bombay and IIT-Madras offered a cost-effective solution which is finally bringing desired results for the locals here.
The Department of Science and Technology-supported project was undertaken under the Central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission which aims to provide tap water connection to every household.
Palghar, located near Mumbai, is one of the high-rainfall receiving districts in Maharashtra. But water often drains into the sea, making drinking water scarcity a recurrent problem every summer.
Leading the IIT-Bombay team, Prof Pradip Kalbar and his counterparts in IIT-Madras studied the problems in the existing water distribution system.
“What we found was there was fluctuating pressure in the water supply, which is far from being 24/7. The existing water distribution design is not suitable for the growing population of the area, which has turned into a semi-urban locality,” Prof Kalbar told The Indian Express.
The Saphale – Umerpada gram panchayat comprises 17 villages with a population touching one lakh. There are two major overhead tanks with 3.25 lakh and one lakh litre capacities, each. Several water management interventions were rolled out by the zilla parishad, but the limited budget and rising number of households posed real challenges in maintaining steady water distribution.
This was when the researchers proposed the idea of installing metal shafts — vertical pipes with one inlet and multiple outlets.
“Storage tanks should ideally be positioned centrally in a locality, so that the water distribution is uniformly planned, covering the desired area. This is not the case at many locations. Moreover, a single water outlet was adding load to the locality’s distribution system of the locality,” added Prof Kalbar.
Erecting more water tanks would have been an obvious solution to address water distribution but would incur huge expenses. To avoid this, the IITians instead recommended installing shafts, work of which was completed earlier this month.
“Building tanks would cost several lakhs, but it would not address the problems with distribution, leaking tanks or growing households. Instead, we have demonstrated that metal shafts, built at Rs 2 lakh, have improved the water pressure and its distribution in the locality. This model can be replicated, both in rural and urban setups,” said Kalbar.
It has been nearly three weeks and the residents have noticed a change in the overall water supply.
” We are seeing encouraging results as problems pertaining to water distribution and its pressure have been largely addressed. In future, if the number of households increase, we have a mechanism in place wherein the distribution lines can be extended without disturbing the existing pipelines,” said Amod Jadhav, sarpanch, Saphale – Umerpada gram panchayat.
The IIT-Madras team is working on installing solar-powered water-level sensors on the overhead tanks. “Once that work is completed, there will be real-time monitoring of the water filling and it will be fully automated. This will further help us improve the distribution in the locality,” said Jadhav.
The IIT-Bombay team is presently in talks with several state governments to replicate this model, especially where the population is below 2,000. There are over 5 lakh habitations in the country where the population is less than 2,000.
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