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Drinking water filtration and distribution system – Making a community’s water supply safe and reliable in the village of Dasaraju Palli, India

Multiple Authors

Dasaraju Palli’s water filtration unit

The village of Dasaraju Palli in Andhra Pradesh is located around 16 km from the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Clean drinking water was scarce in the community. The piped water came irregularly – once every three days during dry season, the community estimated – and was bacteriologically contaminated, yet the villagers need water from these overhead tanks every day. The community had to buy water cans throughout the dry months for the last two years. They were even forced to drink untreated and highly contaminated well water supplied from the canal-filled pond reservoir, which led to water borne diseases in the community. This situation was aggravated as the drinking water directly pumped from the river to a reservoir from where it was transferred to the village’s tank without being treated. As many of the tap points at the overhead tank are broken, it is difficult to actually get to this water. Two ponds were also contaminated with bacteria. The already grave water situation in the village is expected to worsen as changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are to increase, aggravated by climate change.

Supported by the EU-financed AdaptCap project, the community of Dasaraju Palli decided to set up a water filtration unit near the water storage pond located in the middle of the village. The unit draws raw water from the well dug in the pond through a pipeline which was laid between the well and the filtration unit using solar powered pumps of 0.75 HP (horse power) capacity. Seven solar panels – each having a maximum power output of 250 W peak – were installed on the roof of the filtration unit. The water filtration unit consists of a roughing filter and slow sand filter as well as a water quality testing kit. The untreated water pumped from the well goes into the roughing filter of the filtration unit and then to the slow sand filter where water is treated for turbidity and bacteria removal. Depending on the initial quality of water and the performance of the system, the water is disinfected thereafter and supplied to the villagers. This adaptation measure ensures the community daily access to clear water, whose quantity is sufficient to cover the drinking and cooking needs of all villagers. It thus reduces the rate of water-borne diseases. The subsequent costs that had to be raised for medical treatment and to buy canned drinking water decreased or have become unnecessary. In total, over 700 people benefit from this adaptation measure, which also helps mitigate climate impacts. The key benefits of the measure in Dasaraju Palli are:

  • Increase available quantity of drinking water per inhabitant: 5,475 litres of clean drinking water are now generated per inhabitant per year and a total of 3,600 cum for the whole community per year.
  • Improve drinking water quality: The water quality is measured against benchmark values of the IS 10500 and tested on a regular basis.
  • Increase water harvested for the pond: The expected infiltration of water for the pond is 30-50 million litres per year.

Implementation costs

The overall costs of this adaptation measure – including a local vulnerability and needs assessment, capacity building measures in the community, technical support as well as material and labour costs – amounted to Rs. 730,500. Of these, Rs. 630,500 were borne by AdaptCap while the community contributed Rs. 100,000.

Operation & maintenance of the system

In order to remain operative in the long run, several parts of the system require regular operation and maintenance (O&M). Regular O&M activities include:

  • Removal of silt in the canal
  • Protection of the pond’s catchment area
  • Arresting the leakages along the pipeline
  • Maintenance of motors and pump sets
  • Repairs to pump house
  • Cleaning and replacement of filter media
  • Cleaning and maintenance of solar panels, UPS and batteries

The community has handed over the responsibilities of O&M of the filtration unit and the distribution system to the village Panchayat. The average monthly O&M costs of the filtration unit is 7,300. The whole amount will be borne by the villagers in the form of user fee of Rs.2 per 20 litre can of water supplied. In addition, the village Panchayat contributes Rs.103,000 annually to pump water to the pond from the Nagarjuana Sagar Canal, which is the source of water for the pond. External skilled labour is only necessary to sustain the technical components of the solar pump.

M&E of activities and benefits

A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was developed to regularly screen and assess the adaptation project’s sustainability and impact. Information is collected in four areas:

  • Effectively achieved vulnerability reduction
  • Acceptance by and technical feasibility for the community
  • Cost for implementation and regular O&M
  • Positive and negative side effects (i.e., environmental, social, economic)

Challenges and lessons learnt

  • Ensure a strong buy-in by the community and local authorities for the measure to achieve efficient and sustainable implementation. The adaptation measure in Dasaraju Palli had to be halted temporarily due to a complaint made by the house owner living adjacent to the proposed water treatment plant site.
  • Community participation should be ensured throughout all phases of such an initiative.

Project background and partners

The project “AdaptCap – Strengthening Adaptation Capacities and Minimizing Risks of Vulnerable Coastal Communities in India” financed by the European Commission has set out to strengthen the adaptation capacities of vulnerable coastal communities in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (India) and minimize their climate change-related risks using an integrated approach.

The three-year initiative is implemented by the Indo-German Environment Partnership Programme of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ-IGEP) in partnership with four Indian and international partners.

GIZ-IGEP is responsible for the overall implementation and project management.

Academy of Gandhian Studies (AGS) supports the stakeholders in three cities and nine villages in Andhra Pradesh as a local partner, providing training and implementation support in assessing adaptation needs and developing and carrying out adaptation measures.

AVVAI Village Welfare Society (AVVAI) fulfils the same role in Tamil Nadu.

adelphi contributed to developing technology solutions for the pilot projects and M&E frameworks, designing and implementing capacity building programmes and providing technical support for pilot project implementation.

ICLEI South Asia led the implementation of activities in the six urban areas targeted by AdaptCap.

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