As a concerted effort towards making Chennai water resilient, City of 1,000 Tanks, a strategy for developing holistic solutions to improve water availability and minimise wastage, was launched in the city on Wednesday.
A consortium of experts from various fields would develop a water balance model to collect rainwater and treat wastewater with nature-based solutions to improve groundwater recharge. A pilot project has been initiated at the Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School and this would be upscaled to various flagship projects across Chennai.
The City of 1,000 Tanks would bring together a team of various organisations — Netherlands-based OOZE Architects and Urbanists as lead and Goethe Institute, Madras Terrace Architectural Works, Care Earth Trust, IIT-Madras, Rain Centre, Biomatrix Water, Paperman Foundation and Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities and Uravugal Social Welfare Trust.
On the vision, Sudheendra N.K. of Madras Terrace Architectural Works, said the concept was to improve the groundwater table and make Chennai a greener city. Noting that the city faced issues of drought, floods and sanitation, despite sufficient annual rainfall, he said unplanned urbanisation was one of the reasons.
The ongoing pilot project in Little Flower Convent would demonstrate balanced use of water. Besides rainwater harvesting measures, wastewater collected in the open space would be treated using constructed wetlands with reeds. The reclaimed water would be collected for non-potable reuse and also groundwater recharge. The school would benefit with nearly 25,000 litres of water a day, he said.
The consortium is also in talks with the government to scale up to flagship projects in the city. Eva Pfannes, co-founder of OOZE Architects and Urbanists, highlighted on the Mylapore flagship project that would have constructed wetlands, bioswales and detention parks as its key elements. Historic temple tanks would be restored for better groundwater recharge and creation of better urban space.
There are 53 such historic tanks in the city with a recharge potential of 50 million litres a day and the projects can be replicated. She also underlined about adaptive public housing programme in Chitra Nagar.
Henk Ovink, special envoy for international water affairs, Netherlands government noted that the City of 1,000 Tanks was established through water as leverage for resilient cities. Asia and Chennai was chosen as it had a coalition of challenges and opportunities to bring in change.