Water from Karichal scheme used to be just chlorinated

Forty-two years after it was launched, the Karichal Water Supply Scheme has finally started distributing treated drinking water.

Launched in 1971 as the Poovar-Karichal Water Supply Scheme, this project of the Kerala Water Authority reached out to a region perennially deprived of drinking water — the State capital’s coastal belt comprising areas like Kanjiramkulam, Karumkulam, Poovar, and Puthiyathura. However, since the quality of water supplied through the scheme, which did not have a water treatment plant, did not quite meet the expected standards, criticism and complaints were frequent. Outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases on the coast were attributed to the water supplied via the scheme. The only ‘treatment’ done by KWA so far was to chlorinate the water.

Now, with the addition of a water treatment plant at the Karichal pump-house, 22km from here, the KWA is trying to make a change.

The process

The mini plant, launched on Thursday, is expected to be upgraded depending on the success. It presently comprises a 0.36 million-litre treatment plant, installed by the Stockholm-based Josab International, and treats water using clinoptilolite, a natural zeolite and weathering product of volcanic glass. Clinoptilolite is used in a pressurised tank to remove heavy metals, bacteria, and other pollutants from water that is drawn through collection wells from Karichal Lake, after which a UV filter disinfects the filtered water.

According to K. Anilkumar, the overseer at the pump-house, the treated water is now being supplied in two shifts of 10 hours each, from a 10,000L supply tank which will soon be made larger. “As of now, we are supplying the treated water to the thickly populated coastal areas of Adimalathura, Pulluvila, Puthiyathura, Kochuthura, and Karumkulam,” he said.

The Karichal scheme has two other supply tanks of 2MLD each, at Paraniyam and Poovar, from where water filtered through the two conventional filter tanks and chlorinated at the pump-house, is supplied to areas such as Kanjiramkulam, Poovar, Thirupuram and parts of Kottukal panchayat.

KWA Managing Director Ashok Kumar Singh said plans were on to extend the same zeolite-based technology, which he said was being used in the State for the first time, to all 2MLD schemes of the KWA, depending on the success of this scheme.

“The quality of water is such that it can straightaway be packaged and sold. The operation is simple, does not require high pressure or much area for setting up the plant and is low on maintenance costs as well,” he said.