India is not a water deficient country, but the amount of water that goes wasted or untreated every day, the country has a bleak future ahead in the cards.
From every dripping tap that can be fixed to a heavy downpour of rain from which water can be harvested, there are myriad possibilities that can reduce the country’s burgeoning water burden.
Worried by the city’s water lack and need to water his plants, one man in Chennai has found the perfect use for wastewater generated from his household and is setting an example that all of us should take a note of.
When T. Siva Ramalingam had moved to the city sometime in the early 2000s, he found that not only was Chennai sweltering hot; there were also very few trees and plants in the surrounding areas that further aggravated the heat.
Following which, he planted some seedlings and saplings on the curbs of Coastal Road and Gangai Street in Besant Nagar. However, non-availability of water in the city proved to be a crisis, which led Ramalingam purchasing water from private water tankers to water the plants.
This, in turn, ended up being a costly affair.
That’s when the idea of using recycled water hit Ramalingam and what could be better than the wastewater from one’s household.
“As there were no trees in the surroundings, the heat made living in my own house unbearable. I thought that growing couple of trees would bring shade and thus cool the house. So out of necessity, I started looking for different ways to get water. Suddenly a brainwave struck to my amazement, and I realized that the water used for bathing and in the kitchen could be used for watering the trees,” he says.
The ingenuity of the man’s idea, if incorporated by every household, can help reuse millions of litres of water that goes down the sewers every day.
“Close to 5000 litres of water is used by each household. This water, if recycled, can be water over 10-20 trees sufficiently,” explains Ramalingam.
However, not everything that goes down the drain is used to water the plants. Using only ‘grey’ water, which includes only water used for only bath and kitchen usage, Ramalingam channels the used water into separate drums that are installed like sumps.
To avoid any kitchen waste get in the way, he has fixed a filter that strains away everything. The water is then pumped out through a small motor and let flow along the street through a simple underground pipe network and released through taps at different points. “The entire cost of plumbing amounted to ₹500,” he adds.
Inspired by the man’s simple yet powerful idea, many of his neighbours have taken up greywater recycling over the years and are channelling their wastewater to a better and greener purpose.
So far, the octogenarian has planted 300 trees and has been watering all of these using the wastewater from his home. The man hopes that his simple method would be adopted by not just households but incorporated by municipal corporations as a large-scale project.
“While millions of litres of wastewater in Chennai ends up in the sea through the sewers, a little change can make a huge difference. By recycling and reusing this water, we could not only nurture millions of trees but also keep a tab on the rising climate change,” Ramalingam adds.
To get in touch with T. Siva Ramalingam, you can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.