Clean water not for all

basic necessity
Last Updated 21 March 2014, 13:28 IST

With increased pollution levels in lakes and waste management issues comes the percolation of pollutants into the underground water table, which eventually reaches the end-consumer.

Despite the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) claiming that much of the City’s waters are potable, complaints continue to arise from different areas of the City. On the occasion of ‘World Water Day’, officials and citizens speak about the water contamination in the City.

At the BWSSB Central Water Testing Laboratory, chemists Prakash and Nalini say that the main culprit for the impurity is cross-contamination from sanitary lines. “The Cauvery water is supplied from Thorekadanahalli while the treatment happens here. But the contamination happens because of sanitary leakages and drain water entering the groundwater, which we monitor by routine sampling,” says Prakash.

Nalini adds, “There are certain parameters that have to be met in the water samples. For instance, we monitor the Total Dissolved Solids levels (measure of purity) and turbidity (measure of clarity) in the distribution network. We also ensure that there are no bacterial components like Coliform or Escherichia Coli, which render the ,water undrinkable.”

Kemparamaiah, BWSSB chief engineer (Quality Assurance), says that the chlorination process disinfects the water. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that for every 10,000 people, we have to test one sample of water. According to that, we’re supposed to collect 900 samples a month for the 90 lakh people here. But on an average, we collect close to 1500 samples monthly.

The BWSSB checks the quality at source (Cauvery), after which it is treated in one of our plants. It’s then pumped to the City through steel pipes, which have been installed over time and are all intact,” he informs, adding that the tertiary level treatment plants treat waste water, which is used in factories, construction sites and parks like Cubbon Park and Lalbagh.

He notes that if any impurity is identified or the authorities receive any complaint, they inform the concerned sub-division and have the problem rectified immediately. “The impurities enter the water when it’s being pumped from the Ground Level Reservoirs to local lines. If someone tampers with the connections, pollution may occur,” explains the engineer, adding that in the case of borewell lines, the BWSSB only looks at repair and maintenance, not treatment. “It isn’t under our scope unless we receive complaints. Even when a borewell’s water is unfit for consumption and we put signs not to drink it, they remove the signs and go ahead. How do we prevent that?” questions Kemparamaiah.

Despite these claims, the water in areas like Banashankari, Yelahanka, KR Puram, Kengeri, Hebbal, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Koramangala, etc can easily be viewed as ‘murky’. “For the last few years, there’s been a real estate boom in Rajarajeshwari Nagar because of which the water isn’t as fresh as it used to be. This is possibly because the rainwater supply is depleting, leaving behind the muddy components,” opines Abijith, a resident of the area. Manchala, who stays in Shastri Nagar, adds, “With the rapid rate of construction in the City, what is being forgotten is the basic need for clean water. The water this side is often brown and I can’t imagine what it’ll look like when the monsoons arrive.”

(Published 21 March 2014, 13:28 IST)

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