The village of Loyaj is one of eight small communities of coastal Gujurat state where pilot projects using complex reverse osmosis plants have been installed to desalinate well water to make it potable. When I visited in mid November 2010 the plant had been operating for three months. A distribution system is being installed to bring water directly to the 610 households via outdoor taps. For now, villagers come to the plant to collect water in special 20-liter containers.
The Coastal Salinity Prevention Project, Aga Khan Rural Support Program and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust teamed up to bring the General Electric desalination plant to Loyaj.
The project addresses a common problem for hundreds of coastal villages: salt water intrusion from the Arabian Sea into the groundwater up to several kilometers inland – a water source that is relied upon for irrigation and drinking.
The well water in Loyaj was tested and found to have total dissolved solids, a measure of minerals, salts and metals in water, of 4,000 milligrams per liter, versus a recommended safe level of 500 mg/l.
CSPC and its partners began working with Loyaj villagers 18 months prior to my visit. The investment came to 450,000 rupees. Villagers pay 80 rupees per month per household for 45 liters of treated drinking water. The system augments what rain water that can be collected from roof harvesting systems. The treated water is better for drinking, according to Devi, one of the village women I spoke with.
The desalination plant is operated by Manish, a village resident who was trained to operate the technologically-advanced equipment.
I was connected to this project via Blue Planet Network and truly enjoyed the visit; the hospitality has been awesome. Hope to visit India and this part again and see how this project has evolved and what the impact is.