9 days and counting: Water crisis due to alarming ammonia levels continues in Delhi

New Delhi: There seems to be no relief in sight for residents facing water shortage in different parts of Delhi. The three water treatment plants at Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Haidarpur have not been running at full capacity since January 30 due to high levels of ammonia in the Yamuna and Delhi Jal Board says it will be at least a week before the problem can be fixed.
Water supply has been affected in all parts of the city except in east Delhi where water is sourced from the Upper Ganga Canal. “The crisis started from January 30 when due to continuous pollution in the Yamuna and reduced supply of raw water from Haryana the production of potable water at treatment plants of Delhi got hit. It will take another week for water treatment to start in full capacity again in the three water treatment plants,” said a DJB official who did not want to be named.
He further said that the level of ammonia in the river water has shot up to 2.23 parts per million (ppm) when the safe limit is 0.2 ppm. The DJB is equipped to treat up to 0.9 ppm of ammonia level in water. The supply of raw water at the three treatment plants has been curtailed and these are running at 70%-80% capacity at present. As a result, the production of potable water has declined and the supply is reaching the households at low pressure.
Ashok Bhasin, president of North Delhi Residents’ Welfare Federation, said water supply has been erratic for the past few days. “Water comes every other day in some areas. In certain households, there is no water for a whole day. Rationing of water becomes difficult in such a situation. Quality, too, is poor in some areas,” Bhasin said.
Soma Roy, a resident of A Block in South Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park, however, said the timing of the crisis has somehow cushioned the blow. “Thank god this is not peak summer when the demand of water is at its highest. In this weather, supply in low pressure doesn’t have that much of an impact,” she said.
DJB blames the Haryana government for not releasing enough water needed to maintain the ecological flow of the river and keep pollution levels, which has become a perennial problem, in check. Ecological flow — which is described as the minimum amount of water that should flow throughout the river at all times to sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods — must be maintained at 10 cumecs (cubic meter per second) at all times.
The DJB distributes 900MGD of water in Delhi. Out of this, 543 MGD (almost 60 per cent) comes from Haryana and around 240 MGD from Uttar Pradesh through Upper Ganga Canal.
At the its 136th board meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal last month, two vital decisions were taken to help do away with the constant problem of ammonia getting mixed with raw water and thereby affecting water supply.
“An additional 2,400mm line for raw water mains from Delhi sub-branch near Haiderpur water treatment plant will be laid in order to reduce dependency on the Yamuna for raw water. Till the 2,400 mm line is laid, a wall is being constructed between drain no. 6 and 8 at Piao Maniyari in Sonepat to segregate industrial waste and raw water that flows through the canal to Delhi. The wall will stop ammonia getting mixed with raw water,” a DJB official said.

- Advertisement -