The acres of lawn that needs to be watered, the many animal enclosures that must be washed routinely – the museum, public gardens and zoo premises cannot ever afford to run out of water.

Anticipating harsher summer months and drought-like scenarios, the Zoo Department has decided to set up a water-recycling plant inside the premises with the intention of reusing the drained water for gardening purposes at first and then graduate to a more advanced filtration unit that yields clean drinkable water as well.

The proposed unit will be set up near the vermin-composting pits, beside the rhinoceros enclosure. The department has, thus far, been able to manage on their own because of the two man-made lakes inside the zoo. This recycling plant will be able to limit the amount pumped from the lakes.

The original landscaping of the undulating premises was carried out in a manner that marked the Napier Museum and the surrounding gardens to be the highest point and the lakes to be the lowest. In fact, British architect Ingleby constructed drains that ensured all rainwater to be carried straight to the small lake first and, when its limit is reached, the water flows into the larger lake.

Any excess at this point, flows into the city’s storm water drain network. This seamless design worked well for decades ensuring no flooding of the gardens and any stagnation and pollution of the lakes. But subsequent construction work meddled with the network.

The department has entrusted the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO) with the work, which has handed over the responsibility with the same agency that installed the floating fountains in the lake here a few years ago, an official says.

The fountains or aerators have helped improve the oxygen levels in the water and reduce contamination, improving the health of the ecosystem here. The exact capacity of the unit is yet unclear, but it will only be used to water the gardens to start off.