Catch Every Drop: Sewage treatment begins at home

Tired of mucky water everywhere? Take the first step towards cleaning it up. Install a sewage treatment system at home. 

Grey Water Garden with supplemental rain water capture system (Pic: Jeremy Levine)

Before you toss that leftover food into your laundry water and throw it out, here’s something you need to chew on. Not throwing biodegradable material in your grey water can solve 70-80% of the problems associated with your city’s sewage treatment.

Do you know that homes in Bangalore produce 40,000 million litres waste-water every month? If all of this is treated, this water can bring down the cost of rice and some other grains and hydrate water-scorched parts of Karnataka.

Want to help? Call Prithvi Eco Sciences Pvt Ltd and install one of their user-friendly sewage treatment plant, STP for short, in your home. It’s neither tedious nor bank-breaking, says Prithvi Eco Sciences Managing Director Kris Madhusudan.

Excerpts from the interview: 

The Alternative: Why is waste-water recycling such a big problem?

Kris Madhusudan: Because not much research and development has been done on the issue. Bangalore produces 40,000 million litres waste-water monthly. If this water is treated, it can water 18,000 hectare paddy fields for three yields in a year. That will give about 1.3 million metric tonne paddy, 40,000 metric tonne of all types of grams and cereals for two yields in a year. This much water can solve the drought problem of at least two districts of Karnataka.

We have identified 100,000 hectare dry land in and around Bangalore where paddy can be grown with this treated water.

As much as 70% of waste-water in homes is grey water. If we start treating that itself, imagine how much it would benefit all of us.

Please tell us something about the technology used in your STPs.

We use a ‘catalyst’ that releases oxygen from hydrogen peroxide to treat the water. This catalyst can clean the water within minutes.

TA: What kinds of STPs do you have for homes? What is the cost involved?

KM: We have portable STPs that are very easy to install and don’t cost too much because they have no electromechanical components. Capacity ranges from 1,000 litres to 5,000 litres and capital cost works out to Rs 30,000-40,000. Plumbing costs are extra.

Our STPs are built on natural gradation system. So they use just 10% of the electricity that conventional STPs do. The operation cost varies from one user to another. On an average, it works out to around Rs 1,000 monthly.

TA: What about the maintenance?

KM: It is zero maintenance because there are no electromechanical parts involved. All you have to do is reload the hydrogen peroxide every week in the reactor. Hydrogen peroxide is available for Rs 20-35 a litre. There is just an input and an output in our systems. They are very simple but effective.

Hydrogen peroxide is available in any pharmaceuticals store. The catalyst bed needs to be replaced once in two years or so depending on the usage.

TA: What are the requirements for installing one of your STPs?

KM: The basic requirement is area of around 100 square feet. The site is analysed for any other specific requirements. If there is separate plumbing lines for grey water and black water, the miscellaneous expenses are much lower and the installation takes just three hours. If basic plumbing is required, then it can take up to a day.

TA: What are some things households can do to make sewage treatment easier?

KM: Segregate your grey and black water. If you do that, 70-80% of the problems associated with waste-water treatment are solved. People should avoid throwing out biodegradable things with water. Also, they should go easy on acid-based cleaners such as Lizol and Harpic. It is very hard to oxidize phenol components in waste-water and these play havoc with the environment.

While constructing buildings, dedicated sewer lines should be planned for grey water and black water. Around 80% of total domestic waste-water is grey water. No hard substance should be allowed into the sewer lines, and these lines should be maintained annually.

Image Source: Flickr CC Attribution License

Catch Every Drop is a campaign on sustainable water conservation by The Alternative, sponsored by Arghyam, with partners India Water Portal and Biome Environmental Solutions.

Whether it is the Cauvery river dispute, the unregulated proliferation of bore wells or the death of Bangalore’s beautiful lakes, everyone has a story, an opinion or a question on water. While most people understand and recognize the importance of saving water, not everyone knows how to do it, or even what exactly they can do.

‘Catch Every Drop’ is a showcase of stories of pioneering water conservation work done by corporates, lake restoration groups, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and individuals in Bangalore. These stories, we hope, will inspire you to join this growing community of people who truly care about water, our planet’s most precious resource.

This informati0n has been put together with the help of Biome Environmental Solutions and adapted by Kirti Pandey.

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