UNIVERSITIES IN CHENNAI SHOW THE WAY FOR WATER CONSERVATION

Chennai, March 21: With water levels in major reservoirs fast depleting in Chennai ,educational institutions like the Anna University and IIT Madras have resorted to building artificial lakes and setting up water treatment plants to fulfill their water requirements.

Spread over hundreds of acres these universities boast of a number of hostels and building belonging to different departments of studies. Thusuniversities like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and Anna University have taken different measures to meet the water demands of thousands of their staff and student residents in the campuses.

IIT Madras which is spread over 250 acres has a recycling plant that went operational in November last year and it has the capacity to treat as much as 4 million liters of water per day.

“The waste water in our campus is treated by the recycling plant with the best available technology, it is then being used in the hostels, academic area residential multistory buildings and also for gardening and landscaping” , says Professor Ligy Philip of the Environmental and water Resources Engg. Div.

IIT Madras also has permission from the Central Groundwater Board to use water from 6 wells and 6 tube wells in case of water shortage.

Their requirements are also supplemented by the water collected in different lakes within the campus which is also used for drinking purposes. By having a proper rainwater harvesting system in place they are able to collect huge amount of waters during the monsoons in the lakes which again can be treated and used by the hostel.

Commenting on the quality of water they get from the water recycling plant Professor Philip says “When the last time our director came here we asked him to differentiate between the metro water and treated water. But he wasn’t able o do so which is an indicator of how good the quality of water is.”

IIT Madras fulfills 50 per cent of its water requirements with the help of the Water recycling plant and the rest 50 per cent i.e about 11 lakh liters of water is provided to them by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB)

The institute is also in the process of doing away with the R.O water plants. “ First of all the R.O plant wastes about 50 per cent of the water and it’s not good for health also because a lot of minerals get removed” says Prof. Philip.

As a result they have installed their own treatment system with membrane filters , carbon and UV technology and installed it in the new hostels and messes. The process of installing them in the old hostels , academic blocs and administrative buildings will be completed by 31st march.

Not far away from IIT Madras , Anna university’s ‘Pond Project’ — an artificial pond that will store treated, recycled water — will be ready by the upcoming academic year.

“There are 37 hostels on the university’s four campuses and it houses about 7,500 students and staff. They require about eight lakh liters of water a day “said Prof VK Stalin, estate officer of the university.

However, with the water in city reservoirs dwindling to alarming levels, Chennai Metro Water has reduced the supply to five lakh liters a day.By ensuring that the waste water generated by the departments, canteens and hostels is recycled, the campus manages to save about 3.50 lakh liters a day.

Anna University has also decided to advance semester exams by a month to wind up the session before the crisis peaks in summer.“Earlier we used to have 5 working days a week but since January the Saturdays have also been a working day to help us finish the syllabus early” , says Dr N.K Ambujam , Professor of Water Resources in Anna University.

The campus also has a Department of Water Resources and its whole building has rain water harvesting facilities to help the requirement of their hydraulic labs. At any given point they have about 1.1 miilion liters of water for the students to use in their everyday work and assignments informs Professor Ambujan.

The two universities are thus setting a good precedent in this time of water crisis by applying different means to use the water judiciously along with fulfilling their requirements.

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