Pure stuff

Total water management -- envisaging supply, use and recycling of wastewater -- is what Akshyadhara is all about

 
By S K Gupta, P Sharma
Published: Friday 31 January 1997

-- improved lifestyles in both rural and urban areas necessarily mean better availability and use of water. The emphasis for our planners should, therefore, be on providing the required amount of water at affordable costs in a manner that does not deplete or degrade the source. Akshyadhara , meaning undecayed water, is a water management concept which would enable optimal utilisation of available water resources through conservation of pure water, resulting in improved sanitation. A pilot plant based on the concept has been set up in Ahmedabad (The figure gives a diagrammatic representation of the concept).

The key element of Akshyadhara is manipulation of the soil-aquifer system to effect renovation of storm and wastewater resulting in groundwater recharge. The recharged water is used to meet non-potable requirements of the community, thereby conserving the pure water. Transmission of the recharged groundwater to surface water bodies (rivers and lakes) through natural subsurface flow would result in their rejuvenation and maintaining their water quality perennially.

The two basic building blocks of the proposed Akshyadhara concept are the percolation well for renovation and recharge of storm water and the non-sanitary component of domestic wastewater and secondly, the soil-aquifer treatment system for purifying municipal wastewater.

The implementation of this concept involves diversion of storm water run-offs into shallow permeable horizons through appropriately designed percolation wells constructed at strategic points where storm water collects naturally; separation of sanitary and non-sanitary components of domestic wastewater in new residential areas as part of building construction; at the municipal level, domestic waste water can be renovated employing appropriately designed soil-aquifer treatment systems; and monitoring and understanding the impacts of various design parameters of the system on different hydrogeological and climatic conditions.

Implementation of the Akshyadhara, to the user, would mean availability of requisite quantity of water of a quality commensurate with intended use at affordable costs. To the planner, it would mean optimal utilisation of scarce resources, thereby ensuring sustainability through reduced costs of infrastructural development and maintenance of water supply and sewerage networks.

As implementation of Akshyadhara concept would involve substantial financial outlays and humanpower, this has to be integrated with the development plans of individual regions. Involvement of state government agencies and local bodies is, therefore, called for. The role of scientists is perceived to be that of providing technical support during project formulation, implementation, evaluation, adaption to varied hydrogeological conditions and improving the understanding of biogeochemical processes through laboratory simulation and mathematical modelling.

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