The launch on Monday of the construction of its packaged water production plant at Aruvikkara will bring the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) one step closer to a market dominated by well-known multi-national companies.

Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran is scheduled to inaugurate the construction of the plant at 5 p.m.

Beginning with a name for its packaged water, the KWA will have to shape a marketing strategy that will position its product as a viable alternative in the public eye. The government has already declared that the new product will be priced lower than the brands now on sale.

Taking the already filtered and treated water from a 72-mld plant at Aruvikkara as its input, the bottling plant will then subject this water to a slew of filtration and disinfection processes to ensure that the end product meets the legal standards for packaged drinking water.

Filtration

Water piped to the bottling plant from the treatment plant will first be subjected to ‘pressure filtration.' Here, the water is jetted through a sand medium and layers of activated carbon. Then the water is subjected to ‘micro filtration' wherein it is passed through a synthetic membrane. “Normally after micro-filtration, nano-filtration and ultra-filtration is done to remove even the most minute of particles from water. Here, this won't be required because the raw water for the bottling plant has already been filtered and treated and rendered fit to drink,” a KWA engineer associated with the project said.

The micro-filtered water is made to pass through a ‘reverse osmosis' membrane – a substance through which only water molecules can pass. This water is then disinfected through an ultra-violet treatment process and by making it come into contact with ozone gas. At this point, the water is ready to be bottled.

Automated

The bottling, labelling and packing of the water will be done in a fully automated manner at the plant, KWA engineers said. The authority will purchase the ‘pre-forms' of the bottles it intends to use. These pre-forms will then be blown into the desired shape, filled with water, labelled and packed.

The current plan is to bring out 200 ml pouches and bottles with capacities ranging from 200 ml to two litres. A 20-litre can too will be marketed.

Assuming daily operations of 10 hours, the plant will produce 75,000 litres of water a day. Factoring in the plant's process loss, the daily input it requires will be nearly one lakh litres.

The plant is expected to be in place by December 2010 and the marketing of the packaged water is scheduled to begin in January 2011.

The authority plans to set up similar plants in Kochi and Kozhikode.