In the last couple of days BIOME has been to the KSPCB office twice. This was to clarify a couple of questions that cropped up every time we had any conversations around STP, zero discharge, ground water recharge etc. The main queries were around
- Where is the official documentation that makes an STP mandatory (for larger establishments). Who is it mandatory for ?
- If I do have an STP, but no dual plumbing to use it for flushing what do I do with the excess treated water ? Can I officially let it into a storm water drain , lake ? What do the discharge norms really mean ? Where do I discharge this treated water ? It seems like a shame to put it back into sewer lines alongwith other raw sewage when I have spent significant time and money to treat the water - in the first place. Is it mandatory for me to have dual plumbing ?
- I have an STP and dual plumbing. I am using the water for gardening and flushing. I still have excess treated water. I am told that I should not discharge any treated waste water outside my campus. What do I do ? If I am sending water outside my campus am I breaking the law ?
- I know my treated water quality is good. Is it ok to let it into the ground for ground water recharge ?
- Many lakes in the city are dry. Is it not a good idea to let in treated STP water into lakes - this way there can be a perennial source of water.
- I have an STP and am left with excess treated water. If I am to let this excess water into the BWSSB sewage network I need to pay Rs 100/- per month per home. I have already money treating it. And now to mix this water alongwith other sewerage and that too for a price !
|Treated Water Quality|
|Within sewered areas buildings upto 20,000sqm built up area can discharge into sewerage lines|
|Who is mandated to have an STP ?|
|Forward thinking rules - around energy and flow meters as well as dual plumbing|
The above screenshots carry some responses to the queries in the form of official documentations (in this case called OM - short for office memorandum). Here is the spirit behind the other responses that we got (responses not reproduced verbatim)
- It is recommended that all people/establishments (whether big or small) treat and reuse their waste water to the extent possible. This is necessitated in part by the absence of a sewage network in places as well as the increasing price and decreasing availability of water. While the costs may seem high at this point in time, increasing cost for water may soon enough catch up with this initial investment. While as of now only the larger generators are mandated to have STPs, it is only likely that over a period of time this rule will apply to all sewage generators
- While discharge into lakes and storm water drains is not officially permitted, if a group could, over a period of time, monitor the quality of treated water on a daily/weekly basis and share the results with the KSPCB and come up with some recommendations for discharge, the KSPCB would be willing to help take the idea further
- For tertiary treated water, the best use is land application. Continued disposal to lakes may pollute them as we never know what concentration of pollutants are present in the water we discharge and how will it react with the water in the lake. To be sure of the quality of the treatment, one should create a small pond with treated water. Allow fishes in it. If the fish survives, the quality of treatment is good.
- Sharing/Selling/Buying of treated STP water is a good idea, but currently it is limited by the conveyance mechanisms that are available to transport this water
- Each establishment is only bound by the rules that were applicable to them at the time of sanctioning the plans. The KSPCB is aware of the high costs of setting up of an STP as well as dual plumbing and hence currently cant mandate it on those that do not already have the infrastructure. However the KSPCB does highly recommend treated water reuse
|KSPCB office on Church Street|
The Environmental Officer at the HQ of KSPCB (Central office) did express:
1. It is understandable that it is difficult for people to manage treated waste water without crystal clear rules on what to do. Yes we know people find it difficult to understand what exactly they are supposed to do. We also know that builders/real estate developers "exit" the projects and then it becomes peoples problems as the waste water gets generated only after occupancy.
2. There is a need for stakeholder institutions to come together to resolve some of the questions around Treatment, discharge and reuse of waste water.
It must be said that BIOME could meet with the KSPCB chairman as wells as other officials that we
wanted to meet, fairly easily (of course after calling up and taking appointments) and each of them gave us a patient hearing and very thought through responses. It was also apparent that they were very aware of the current limitations in the system and the issues that we were approaching them with and were already on their way to figuring out something that would work for all. They also saw a need for a body that would see the connectedness in all these issues (lakes, ground water, sewage treatment) and come up with appropriately implementable rules
We came back having decided to keep this conversation going