Concern over water quality deters public from using water ATMs

Water ATMs were brought in as an alternative to plastic water bottles that are banned in the Nilgiris.

Water ATMs were brought in as an alternative to plastic water bottles that are banned in the Nilgiris.  

The recently installed water ATMs in the Nilgiris, brought in as an alternative to plastic water bottles that were banned in the district, are in a state of disuse, with people wary of using the water dispensing units due to concerns over the quality of water.

The water ATMs installed in the major towns of Coonoor, Kotagiri, Udhagamandalam and Gudalur and along major highways at more than 70 locations were introduced to provide a safe source of drinking water to members of the public and especially for tourists visiting the district.

However, many of the water dispensing equipment continue to lie disused. Sarojini P., a tourist visiting the Nilgiris, said that she and her family had initially been quite keen to try drinking water from one of the machines.

“However, I spotted one machine near the ATC bus stand very close to the toilet and began wondering whether the water was actually safe to drink,” she said.

Another tourist, Arjun Kumar, from Bangalore, said that he did indeed drink water from the water ATM located opposite the Government Botanical Garden. He said that though he was sure the water was safe to drink, he felt that more information about the source of the water, and when the quality of water was last checked, could have been put up to assure people of the safety of the drinking water being supplied at these locations.

Shobana Chandrasekar, an activist and member of ‘Namma Nilgiris,’ whose members have been working on multiple environment-related issues in the district, welcomed the ban on plastic bottles, but said that there needed to be more transparency about the quality of water being delivered to the water ATMs. “The ban on plastic water bottles was definitely necessary, and the water ATMs are a good idea. However, ensuring that the information about the safety of the water is shared with tourists should be a prime area of focus for the district administration,” said Ms. Chandrasekar.

“They should prominently display the water treatment methods at the ATMs, as well as information as to when the quality of water was last checked at each facility,” she added.

The water ATMs located within municipal limits are maintained by the respective local body, who are tasked with supplying water to the units and also ensuring water quality. When contacted, Municipal Commissioner (Udhagamandalam Municipality), C Ravi, said that water quality was tested by government agencies at least once a month, and that the water supplied at the ATMs was UV-treated. “We can assure the public that it is safe to drink, but will look into how we can communicate that to the people using the facility,” he added.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:54:54 PM |

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