Chennai

RWH in apartment: The art of maintaining and running it efficiently

A rainwater harvesting chamber at Arihant Panache. Photo: Special Arrangement    | Photo Credit: Liffy Thomas

Whenever the electricity bill for the common areas overshoots the budget, members of the management committee at Arihant Panache in Arumbakkam pay attention to possible areas of laxity.

Captain A Laurence, secretary, Arihant Panache Flat Owners Association points out that there have not been too many occasions to deal with such bills and laxity.

That is something this 15-storey apartment complex with 72 flats takes pride in.

Since this community came up eight year ago, residents have kept operational costs to the bare minimum by adopting water-saving strategies. Whenever necessary, the Association has nudged behavioural changes among residents.

“We manage our Association on a shoe string budget, collecting ₹3 per sq ft towards maintenance charges for the last four years, which is very reasonable,” says Laurence.

A big credit for this goes to the rain water harvesting systems constructed by the developer, whereby water from the rooftop is diverted to the open wells through pipes.

The community has five underground sumps and two traditional wells, besides Metrowater supply.

“Things were made easy for us and all that we had to do was maintain these RWH structures and we continue to do it very systematically,” says the Captain.

Besides cleaning the decanter once in two months, a deep cleaning of all the RWH channels is carried out every year before the monsoon sets in.

How was the situation during the 2019 water crisis that affected many parts of Chennai?

“In 2019, we had a few lorries making trips to the apartment but that was as a precautionary measure otherwise our sumps had water to take care of our needs,” says Laurence.

According to Metrowater, Chennai draws 1,62,720 litres/year from an area of 2400 sq.ft. By means of harnessing rainwater effectively, residents can check groundwater depletion.

At Arihant Panache, MC members use constant communication and drive home such messages. “We keep on hammering the conservation message from time to time to make residents realise that they need to be judicious about using water,” he says.

A group of ladies coordinate with the housekeeping staff. The security staff ensure the overhead tanks do not leak.

“We have instructed the housekeeping staff on how many buckets of water they can use to clean the floors in the common areas. Sprinklers are used to water plants in the garden,” says Meera Vivek, treasurer of the Association.

Anything done against the apartment rules are posted on the apartment’s WhatsApp group, she says. “Anything knowingly or unknowingly dropped by residents that prevent flow of water to the sumps is called out politely in the WhatsApp group. You need to correct residents till certain practices become a culture,” says Meera.

Recently, a team from Chennai Metrowater visited the apartment complex to study the arrangement.

Laurence recalls a visit a few years ago by members of an apartment community in Mogappair to understand how the RWH systems were being maintained.

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Metrowater invites RWAs to talk about their best practices in water management

One of the highlights of Chennai Metrowater’s rainwater harvesting campaign is the opportunity it extends residents to have their complaints addressed.

“We have received more than 70 complaints in the last 10 days and we would find them solutions at the earliest,” says GB Vaidehi, area engineer VIII, Chennai Metrowater.

Similarly, all the 200 depots in the city are attending to grievances by setting up help desks. Complaints range from leaking overhead tanks, water pollution, sewage mixing with water to faulty RWH structures.

A mobile van has also been doing the rounds in Chennai to educate residents on how to maintain RWH structures. With the help of water volunteers, the Department is collecting details relating to the type of wells and RWH structures that are in use.

“Our main goal is to make sure residents who have faulty RWH structures set them right. We also want them to harvest the rainwater within their compounds and not let it on to the road,” says Vaidehi.

Until last week, residents were also encouraged to check the quality of water they get at the special booths that had been set up for the purpose.

Metrowater has also been maintaining a database of communities that follow good water conservation practices. “Our plan is to honour them depot-wise at a later date. We even encourage those we have not gotten in touch with, to contact their respective depot office and inform it about any best practices that they may be following,” says Vaidehi.

Contact the rainwater harvesting cell at 28454080; and for general complaints, call 45674567.


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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 8:43:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/rwh-in-apartment-the-art-of-maintaining-and-running-it-efficiently/article36541038.ece

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