The East Coast Road
(ECR) connecting Chennai
to Mahabalipuram runs parallel to the Bay of Bengal.
With hardly any rain the area is mostly dry. Along the road, the Nemmeli Desalination Plant spreads over 20 acres between the ECR and the sea. This facility, one of the pioneers in producing potable water, was set up in 2013 and is one of the major sources for drinking water
The facility is owned by the Chennai
Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) and has been built by VA Tech Wabag in collaboration with Israeli major IDE Technologies, on a design, build and operate basis. With IDE Technologies, VA Tech has built a world-class plant based on modern seawater reverse osmosis (RO) technology. The technology support from IDE helped the CMWSSB to build the facility in half the 40 acres allotted for the facility. The minimum footprint technology also helped it to improve its performance in a smaller area, say company executives.
The facility came up in three years and has a capacity of 100 million litres a day (MLD). The plant converts seawater into potable water, which is supplied to 1 million people in the southern suburbs of Chennai.
According to the CMWSSB, this is also one of the largest plants of its kind in India that employs ultrafiltration membranes for highly effective pre-treatment upstream of the RO system.
The facility was constructed at Nemmeli at a cost of over Rs 800 crore with assistance from the Centre and the government of Tamil Nadu. Later there were additional investments made in the facility. The pipeline was laid by Larsen & Toubro to connect various parts of Chennai.
Deficit monsoon rain for several years in the catchment area has increased reliance on the plant. In April 2013, the Tamil Nadu government announced plans for another 150 MLD desalination plant to be set up on 10 acres at Nemmeli. A project report was prepared, but the project has not started.
The state has another desalination plant at Minjur in Tiruvallur district set up by IVRC. The government purchases water from this plant for industrial and drinking requirements.