With monsoons having failed and KRS reservoir running dry, BWSSB is exploring alternate options such as to revive Hessarghatta and Thippagondanahalli reservoirs to augment water supply. However, Hessarghatta ran dry in 1998, while Thippagondanahalli reservoir water is not fit for drinking. The government plans to bring in water to Hessarghatta from the Yettinahole project, which would be touching Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts. But experts point out that all these measures will take time and suggest that greater use of recycled water would help the city tide over the impending water crisis.
Little drops of water makes a mighty ocean. While the population of Bengaluru is steadily increasing and has crossed one crore, there is an ever- expanding requirement of more water for the city with Cauvery being the major source.
In its effort to augment the supply of water by 2.5 TMC, BWSSB has geared up to revive Hessarghatta reservoir and Thippagondanahalli reservoir. At present BWSSB is drawing 19 TMC of water annually from the river Cauvery. Water experts believe the revival will help when Cauvery basin is having a bad year.
Bengaluru development minister K. G. George, who inspected the Hessarghatta reservoir, said: “Hessarghatta and Thippagondanahalli were the early sources of drinking water for Bengaluru till we started pumping water from the river Cauvery. While Hessarghatta reservoir ran dry in 1998 as there was no inflow, the water in Thippagondanahalli reservoir is not fit for drinking as it is being polluted by sewage flowing into it from nearby villages.”
“Water will be brought to Hessarghatta reservoir from Yettinahole project. Desilting works and fencing of Hessarghatta reservoir will be taken up soon,” he said and added, “To prevent the sewage water polluting Thippagondanahalli reservoir, an underground drainage project will be taken up along with the installation of a sewage treatment plant."
When Deccan Chronicle contacted, Water expert and former irrigation secretary Captain Raja Rao said, “Yettinahole project is intended to mitigate the drinking water problem of drought-prone Kolar and Chikballapur. They have to be given first preference even to Bengaluru.”
Rejuvenating Hessarghatta and Thippagondanahalli reservoirs will help if there is a bad year in the Cauvery basin, he said and added a note of caution – that it will take time for all these things to happen.
People will accept treated water: Expert
Every day, BWSSB pumps 1350 MLD of water from the river Cauvery. Out of this, approximately 80 per cent of water is generated as sewage. With 14 sewage treatment plants, BWSSB has the capacity to treat about 700 MLD of sewage.
But at present only 500 MLD of sewage water is being treated. While some amount of the treated water is supplied to industries, the rest of the water goes down the drain, when it can be used for construction purposes, gardening, toilet flushing and other activities apart from drinking.
When DC spoke to Kemparamaiah, Chief Engineer, BWSSB, he said: "We are ready to supply treated water to industries and residents. But there are hardly any takers. We are already supplying tertiary treated water for non-potable needs to KIAL, BEL, Indian Air force, Lal Bagh, Cubbon Park and a few private industries at a cost of Rs 19 per kilo liter (1000 liters)."
If recycled water can be used for at least non-potable purposes it will reduce the burden on the pristine Cauvery to a great extent, he said. “To supply treated water to households, a separate pipe line has to be built, which will cost BWSSB crores of rupees. At present, we are supplying tertiary treated water in tankers based on the demand,” he said.
Water expert and Senior scientist at Indian Institute of Science, MR T V Ramachandra said: "The nexus prevailing between BWSSB officials and the water mafia is preventing the board from taking major steps towards supplying treated water." Apart from supplying the treated water to citizens, BWSSB can let the treated water flow into lakes, which will help recharge the groundwater and rejuvenate the dying lakes.
When asked whether people will accept treated water, Mr Ramachandra said, "Yes, people will accept. Tertiary treated water will be fit even for drinking purposes. The board has to take steps to popularize treated water and supply it!"