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How one apartment in Chennai beat water crisis

How one apartment in Chennai beat water crisis
Residents checking the rain water harvesting system in an apartment complex in Kazhipattur | Express

CHENNAI: While homeowners and residents associations across the city are busy squabbling and haggling with water suppliers, ever since an acute shortage in supply began this summer, those living in an apartment complex in Kazhipattur have been able to keep away from this these troubles.

The 160 families residing at Akshaya Adora have not bought water in the last two years. Instead, they put together a robust water harvesting and recycling system that takes care of all their needs. Water drawn from borewells and an open well at their premises is recycled, eliminating the question of shortage.

Close to 1.5 lakh litres of water used by the residents on daily basis gets treated and harvested. As a result, residents say, their water sources never go dry. Residents say their sewage treatment plant can handle two lakh litres. Water that goes into toilets and drains end up at this plant. Thus recycled water is used for several purposes -- around 50,000 litres for gardening, 1 lakh litres to recharge the groundwater table.

"Three years ago, we decided to put an end to the practice of buying water from outside," says Vidyaprakash, secretary of the apartment. "Even now during the crisis, we are not worried about cutting back on supply. We provide water round the clock, because such a system is in place." The next factor is keeping the rainwater harvesting system clean without blockages, said residents.

"Before water reaches the well around 40 trenches dug around the apartment carry it to a percolation pit. This acts as a filter. We periodically clean these pipes and trenches to get rid of insects, leaves and sediment," adds Vidyaprakash.

The only change the apartment management had to do because of the water crisis, was to increase the frequency of checking for leaks and repairs. "Plumbers check for leaks and repairs in 12 water connections in all houses twice a day. Before, this was done only once a week. Similarly, 56 pipes, part of the harvesting system, is checked once a week as opposed to once a month earlier. Leaks are immediately repaired and a record book is kept for these complaints," says another resident.

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