Water desalination projects in India, Importance of Desalination for the future.

Across the globe, the demand of drinking water as well as domestic water is increasing on a rapid pace and water regulatory bodies are struggling to meet the water demand on daily basis in the country.  IN southern part of the India cities like Chennai, Bangalore are one of the major water scared cities.

Water is essential to sustain mankind on earth, India is one of the top countries with large population and its need of the time to plan and implement water infra project well in advance to meet the future requirements. 

Water desalination is one of the top technologies in the world to provide safe potable water from Sea water.

India has total two Sea water desalination plants in Chennai. 

Chennai is one of the worst hit city in India by acute water shortage, city needs around 830 Million Liters of safe potable water on daily basis, which is becoming difficult to supply by its own reservoirs. Chennai came up with India's first sea water desalination plant (Minjur Seawater Desalination Plant and Nemmeli desalination plant)and planning to increase this number in coming years. 

Minjur Seawater Desalination Plant

Minjur Seawater Desalination Plant and Nemmeli desalination plant supplying safe potable water (total 200 MLD) to Chennai residents. 

How Does a Sea water Desalination plant work ?

Seawater is desalinated by Reverse osmosis process to get potable water as per IS 10500: 1991 & as specified in the Agreement BWPA between CMWSSB & CWDL.

The basic process of water filtration is same which is commonly known as Reverse osmosis process but in case of Sea water how this technology works that we will discuss in today's blog. Taking the case study of Minjur Seawater Desalination Plant which is situated at Kattupalli village, a northern suburb of Chennai, India, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. 

Following are the steps of sea water desalination at Minjur Seawater Desalination Plant

Step -1 

For getting 100 MLD of Potable water, about 237MLD of seawater is drawn through HDPE pipes by gravity intake from the Intake structures located at a distance of about 589m from the shore at a depth of 9m.

Step -2

The Seawater drawn is pretreated by screening, coagulation & flocculation, sand filters, anthracite filters, chemical dosing to make the seawater suitable for feeding to Reverse osmosis system and the treated water from reverse osmosis system is post treated with lime to meet the requirements of IS 10500:1991 .

Step -3

The reject from the RO system brine will be disposed off through outfall pipes at a distance of 650m from the shore. The distance between the intake & outfall system is kept as 698 m as per the requirements under Ministry of Environment & Forests. The treated water will be metered before delivering into the Product water tank which is located in the battery limits of the plant.


The brine from the Nemmeli desalination plant . (Image source: Coastal Resource Centre)

Step -4 

The energy from the brine in the reverse osmosis process is recovered through the Energy Recovery System and fed back to the Reverse osmosis membranes through booster pumps. This is the main advantage of this desalination plat which substantially reduces energy cost.

Data source : IVRCL 

So ultimately It is the process of removing salt and other impurities from water and rendering it fit for human consumption. Seawater has a high percentage of salt whereas pure drinkable water should ideally contain less than 10 ppm of salt.

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