Apartment level waste-water treatment and reuse in Bengaluru: Dissemination meeting

The Water, Land and Society programme at ATREE held a half-day dissemination meeting on “Apartment-level wastewater treatment and reuse in Bengaluru” on November 5, 2016 at the Raheja Residency apartment complex in Bengaluru.

The meeting was organized to disseminate the results of the recently concluded ATREE studies on apartment-level sewage treatment plants (STPs) and wastewater reuse in Bengaluru. The studies aimed to understand the economic, regulatory and technological aspects of such STPs. The main participants in the meeting were representatives of resident welfare associations from 30 different apartment complexes in Bengaluru. In addition, several interested citizens and officials of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewearage Board (BWSSB) and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) also participated.

The first session of the meeting consisted of a presentation on the economic and regulatory aspects by Dr. Sharachchandra Lele, Senior Fellow at ATREE, based on a study carried out in collaboration with Autonomous University of Barcelona. The infeasibility of a zero-liquid-discharge requirement, the higher operating costs for smaller apartment complexes and the high monitoring costs for smaller apartments were the key points made. The expert comments by Mr. Ramakrishna, Chief Engineer for Waste Water Management for BWSSB, highlighted the challenges BWSSB faced in providing sewerage in the rapidly growing metropolis of Bengaluru and also their willingness to re-examine the policy regarding retrospective application of the apartment-level STP requirement. Expert comments by Ms.Viji Karthikeyan clarified that KSPCB’s policy was only prospectively applied and acknowledged the difficulties in monitoring smaller apartment complexes.

The second session focused on the technological aspects of apartment-level STPs. Dr. Priyanka Jamwal, Fellow at ATREE, presented results from the evaluation of the performance of 4 different STP technologies in the field, and the variations in their ability to meet the new effluent discharge standards along different parameters. Expert comments from Dr. Ananth Kodavasal emphasized the advantage of staying with extended aeration activated sludge technology.

The final discussion was led by Mr. MDN Simha, Retired Chief Environmental officer of KSPCB, who pointed out that the January 2016 order from the the Government of Karnataka regarding STPs being mandatory should only be interpreted prospectively. Mr. Nagesh, an independent consultant, emphasized the need for planning at the catchment scale, that integrates sewerage with the maintenance of lakes. An intensive discussion followed, in which participants emphasized the difficulties in retroactively installing STPs, the limited benefit if treated water is to be discharged back into the sewers, the pros and cons of different technologies and the need for consistency and comprehensiveness in the policies adopted by the authorities.