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Securing Water for Food (SWFF) in India: greywater treatment in villages of Ketti Valley, Tamil Nadu for reuse in agriculture

Securing Water for Food in India

USAID, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands launched the Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge for Development the first week of September 2013 during World Water Week in Stockholm. Under the programme Securing Water for Food (SWFF), supported by USAID, this project aims to enable production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution in developing and emerging countries. The SWFF programme is investing in innovations at the water-food nexus that have high potential to be brought to scale and that will improve water availability and efficiency along the food value chain, thus boosting food security, alleviating poverty, and stimulating inclusive growth.

WASTE Netherlands along with the National Horticulture Board of India, Canara Bank and the Indian NGO Rural Development Organization (RDO) took up this project in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu in 2017. The project aims at recycling blackwater (wastewater containing feces and urine) and greywater (streams without faecal contamination) from households for production of market-quality compost for cultivation of vegetables. The innovation enables women agri-entrepreneurs to produce better-quality of crops with compost application and an extended crop season.

Low-Cost Biological Treatment of Greywater

BORDA provided the designs for greywater recycling systems for cluster and individual households (HHs). Greywater treatment in the villages of Ketti Valley has to consider technology options that are suitable for temperatures ranging from around 5 to 25 degrees Celsius and an annual rainfall of around 1250 mm. As the community of farmers expect a simple, robust system with minimal operation and maintenance requirements, a natural biological treatment system working in tandem with the surrounding natural environment would be the most effective option.

An innovative approach to managing water supply for food production is the use of nonconventional water sources like treated wastewater. As the scale of the project is large, building cheap solutions from readily available material is a challenge. Greywater from households will be collected and treated to a level that makes it suitable for irrigation and meets the safety and quality standards for recycling as set by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. The treated greywater will be stored in farm ponds and then used for vegetable crop irrigation.

Cyclic Approach

The overall objective of the proposed greywater treatment systems in the villages is to allow for greywater to be regularly channeled from households to the treatment point before it reaches the farm ponds. This is to allow for maximum capture and treatment so that treated wastewater is available for recycling and use by the farmers, while also ensuring that the health of the community is not adversely affected. This would in turn ensure that the natural environment is safeguarded against contamination. The proposed approach to be adopted for the treatment process is cyclic – ensuring that the nutrient cycle and the water cycle do not cross-contaminate each other and that nutrients are put back to the soil.

Project Specifications

Project name: Securing Water for Food IV - Greywater Treatment in Villages of Ketti Valley for Reuse in Agriculture
System: DEWATS for domestic wastewater
Funding agency: RDO (Rural Development Organization)
Location: Salmoor, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Construction period: 2.5 months
Number of beneficiaries: 13 households
Design capacity for treating wastewater: 6 m3 / day
Start of operation: 16th February 2018
Treatment efficiency: COD in: 1400mg/l, COD out: less than 250 mg/l

In collaboration with WASTE Netherlands and RDO Coonoor, BORDA is contributing to the USAID SWFF initiative through a project to supply irrigation water to small vegetable farmers, bringing scaleable innovations at the water-food nexus

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