Wounded earth air pollution

Wounded Earth - Effects of Air Pollution

By Seetha Anand | Feb 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Air pollution is not merely a threat to our health but a reminder that our most celebrated technological achievements are in fact environmental failures. Be it automobiles or jet planes or power plants, they are all guzzling down precious fossil fuels. Some ways to reduce pollution include energy conservation, switching to renewables, and following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.

Labour Care = The Human Factor

By Dr. Shashi K | APR 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Our urban scene anywhere in India appears like a permanent construction site. All along the construction sites, the lesser privileged live in temporary accommodations. Most of these people are the victims of the vagaries of the weather or early victims of climate change related droughts who come to cities for some opportunities. Labor care therefore is one of the most important considerations that we as a construction firm are completely committed to.

Which Electric Vehicles Are Available In India

Diesel, Petrol, or Electric Vehicle: How Can I Decide Which Is Best For Me?

By Dr Shashi K | Apr 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

Electric vehicle has been a human fancy for a long time. However, never before the urgency to have electric vehicles as mainstream vehicle had been more than in recent times. This is particularly significant as electric vehicles are clean energy vehicles and something that can help wean us away from our fossil fuel addiction. Electric vehicles are also non-polluting and will propel urban ecosystems to become cleaner and better.

Why Should We Use Star Rated Appliances?

By Dr. Shashi K | Mar 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

A higher star rated appliance will assure you save money for the life of the appliance. A monthly saving of just 200 units would put Rs.1,700 in your pocket at current electricity rates. Over ten years this means Rs.2,04,000 and over 25 years this means Rs. 5,10,000, factor in this cost when you buy a new appliance. While earlier it was difficult to understand the energy efficiency quotient of appliances, now the star ratings helps us understand the potential of savings directly.

Star rated
Why is it important for everyone to know about Biodiversity-1

Biodiversity Loss and What We Can Do About It?

By Dr Shashi K | Mar 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

We are losing some of our unique ecological niches because of the direct and indirect disturbances that we humans create in our ecosystem. As a result of the changes in land use, pollution, global warming, and physical destruction of ecosystems, species are getting extinct. Although extinction of species is a natural Darwinian process, the rate at which the species are getting extinct now is unprecedented. It is entirely possible to stop the accelerated loss of biodiversity by making changes in our life-style. And it’s all……… worth it.    

Why Is Renewable Energy Important? Types of Renewables

By Dr. Shashi K | Mar 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

Nothing, perhaps nothing else that matters so much is more appropriately named than how energy is classified. Embedded in the name of renewables is the core of what renewable energy delivers. It is the form of energy that can be renewed endlessly as it makes use of the resources that are a part and parcel of the Earth’s natural system, be it oceans and tides, water, wind, sunlight and even accessible heat energy stored in the Earth.

Why is renewable energy important-1

Indoor Air Quality

By Dr Shashi K | Mar 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Indoor air quality is mostly an undervalued asset as there is very little awareness about its correlation with overall health and well-being. Outdoor quality contributes to it to some extent, but many indoor air pollutants are not really suspected as cause of pollution that can be harmful to humans. Biological, chemical and particle pollution can create significant distress to all humans especially most vulnerable sections of the society just as newly born babies and old people. 

Organic Gardening - Vertical, Terrace, and Regular Gardens

By Dr. Shashi K | Feb 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

Gardening offers some less visible, but equally sustaining benefits - whether it is a vertical garden, a kitchen garden, a backyard garden or a roof-top garden. Home gardening helps close the loop from organic waste to compost to growing vegetables. It not only helps in reducing the heat gain on the roof/terrace and other areas at home but also contributes to enriched soil and reduced landfill waste. Besides, eating fresh fruits and vegetables immediately after harvesting assures high level of nutrition and satisfaction.

What is the relevance of vertical gardens in today’s society
Conventional Water Treatment-1

What is Wrong with the Conventional Water Treatment Options: What are the Alternatives?

By Dr Shashi K | Feb 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Waste water treatment has traditionally been the responsibility of municipal corporations, but due to water scarcity it is now mandatory for industrial and residential developments to treat sewage before releasing it. Conventional treatment of grey water requires oxygenation, which is energy consuming and generates large amounts of sludge that needs responsible disposing. On the other hand, a plant-based system (Phytorid) is a tried and tested technology that achieves the same results at minimal cost without expending energy or using harmful chemicals.

Is Solar PV A Feasible Solution For Our Power Needs?

By Dr. Shashi K | Feb 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

Reduce or eliminate energy bills. Earn tax credits and rebates. Start savings from Day 1. Help the environment and help us all. Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun. Installing solar panels at home helps combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduces our collective dependence on fossil fuel. Traditional electricity is sourced from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. For a country with abundant sunshine and poor connectivity, using solar power to generate electricity clearly appears to be the way to go!

solar power panel
Wounded earth air pollution

Wounded Earth - Effects of Air Pollution

By Dr Shashi K | Feb 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Air pollution is not merely a threat to our health but a reminder that our most celebrated technological achievements are in fact environmental failures. Be it automobiles or jet planes or power plants, they are all guzzling down precious fossil fuels. Some ways to reduce pollution include energy conservation, switching to renewables, and following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.

Organic Outlets in the City of Hyderabad

By Seetha Anand | Nov 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

In the last decade or so, there has been a rise in the number of organic stores and farmers bazaars in the city of Hyderabad. This has been the trend world over and the twin cities have caught up on it too. Today there are many players in the market.

blog image

Vegan Options in the City of Hyderabad

By Seetha Anand | Nov 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

Veganism is slowly but surely catching up in the city of Hyderabad. A vegan diet means no dairy, eggs, honey, meat, poultry or fish -- abstinence from all animal products. People turn vegans for reasons of health, prevention of animal cruelty and for environmental protection.

What are the Alternatives to Conventional Wastewater Treatment?

Feb 21, 2019 11:44:14 AM / by Dr Shashi K

One of the first questions that intrigues and troubles us is why should we be burdened with water treatment, when it is the responsibility of the Municipal Corporations.

To put things into perspective, it is important to understand that the reality is a bit harsh to take.

For one, we have a major fresh water scarcity issue, and secondly, most of our water bodies are extremely polluted.

The scale of cleaning up India is huge and if we take some responsibility, it will keep these issues from becoming even bigger.

Conventional Water Treatment-2

From a regulatory point of view, it is now mandatory for communities to invest in STPs as only decentralized action can reduce the overall burden on water resources.

The issue then is to determine what works well for communities now and throughout the life of the building. The first step is to know what really comes out of a household in terms of wastewater.

Usually, fresh water plus the contamination of soap, dirt, oil, washing detergents and liquids, or cleaning agents is called grey water. Water that comes out of the toilets systems is called black water.

In the grey water, many contaminants are bio-degradable. When these get degraded, they use oxygen in the process. There are some others that are chemical in nature and yet, use oxygen for degradation.

The water becomes oxygen deprived, which is measured through certain lab tests called BOD ( Biological Oxygen Demand) and COD ( Chemical Oxygen Demand).

Black water also has a high level of Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and bacteria such as E. Coli.

Typically the aim of an STP is to change the quality of water, so that the parameter values are changed.

If the water is sufficiently oxygenated and treated to ensure bacterial contamination is within limits, the water can be used for non potable purposes such as gardening.

A conventional STP in a community can sometimes become a nightmare for residents to maintain once the builder’s maintenance period is over.

Apart from issues of poor performance when the STP is not working under its full capacity, it also requires expensive equipment like aerators, digestors, pumps, etc. Add to that the cost of maintaining these systems, which is about 10-15% of the initial cost of these systems.

A plant-based system, called Phytorid, has some of the advantages that conventional STPs do not have.

In the Phytorid system, oxygen need not be pumped as that requirement is fulfilled by the plants that supply oxygen for the bacteria and ‘digest’ the nutrients.

In the Phytorid system, the sludge generated is minimal, while conventional STPs generate significantly more sludge, which has to be dried and disposed of.

However, for a Phytorid system, the maintenance cost is just 1-2 % of the initial cost. The land required for the construction of a Phytorid system is less than half that of a conventional activated sludge system.

The best part is that a Phytorid system requires minimal electricity and has no foul odour.

Not to mention, a garden looks much better than a conventional STP!

Being energy efficient while treating water is the requirement of the day as that is what makes this system carbon neutral.


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What is Phytorid?

Phytorid is a wastewater treatment technology which uses plants to treat water.

The wastewater flows through a tank that contains plants like Elephant grass (Pennisetumpurpurem), Cattails (Typha sp.), Reeds (Phragmitessp.), Cannas pp. and Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudocorus).

The plants absorb the ‘waste’ in the wastewater as nutrients for their growth.

By the time the water flows out of the tank, it has about 70% to 80% less total suspended solids (TSS), 78% to 84% less BOD, 70% to 75% less nitrogen, 52% to 64% less phosphorus, and 90 % to 97% less faecal coliform.

The system is simple as it has an inlet zone and an outlet zone, and tucked in between is the treatment zone, which has the same plant species as the inlet zone. The inlet zone also has crushed bricks and stones of different sizes.


Who Developed It?

Who developed phytorid

While the idea of purifying water by absorbing the nutrients can be found naturally and commonly in many wetlands around the world, this particular system was developed by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur.


How Much will it Cost Me?

How much will it cost me-1

The cost of construction of a phytorid system is comparable to that of a conventional STP. Both systems have a similar payback period of about 3-4 years.

However, the main difference is that of the maintenance cost. As a homeowner in a villa or an apartment using a Phytorid STP, you could save enormously on the maintenance cost.

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How Much Space Does it Require?

Phytorid system requires roughly half the area that is required for a conventional STP.


Is it Going to Smell?

Is it going to smell-1

The Phytorid system is designed in such a way that the wastewater never comes up to the surface of the system. This prevents any foul odour.


What about Mosquitoes?

What about mosquitoes-1

A planting substrate covers the surface of the Phytorid system, which acts as a barrier between the wastewater and open air. This ensures that the wastewater is not available as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.


What About its Maintenance?

What about its maintenance-1

Since the Phytorid system is based on the natural process of water treatment found in wetlands, the maintenance required for it is also minimal.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Advanced Technology in Civil Engineering, the maintenance cost of a conventional STP is about Rs. 16/m3, while that for a constructed wetland (like the Phytorid), it is just Re. 1/m3.

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Has it been Used Anywhere else in India? What was the Experience There?

Has it been used anywhere else in India What was the experience there-1

There are communities in Bangalore and other cities, where this system runs successfully.

At one location, for a 250 KL capacity system, the cost of operation and maintenance is about Rs. 10000 per month, including electricity.

Compare this to approximately Rs. 1 lac per month incurred for the operation and maintenance of the 200 KL conventional STP previously used in the same location. There have been no complaints of foul odour or mosquito nuisance.

Instead, the STP looks like a beautiful garden in the backyard.

At the NEERI Zonal Lab in Worli, Mumbai, a 5 KL capacity Phytorid STP has been installed to enable the treatment and reuse of its greywater (water from the kitchen, bathroom, wash basins, etc.). this system has been in operation since 2005.

The operation and maintenance cost is about Rs. 10000 per year, including the cost of pumping the water for use in their garden. As with the Rainbow Drive Society system, the Phytorid system here has not led to any odour problems.

In Mittal Auriga in Bangalore, we have already put a Phytorid System that is working absolutely fine.


Is the Treated Water Safe for Use?

Is the treated water safe for use-1

The water treated in a Phytorid system has been tested by several agencies at various locations.

In all cases, the water has been found fit for use in agriculture and gardening, as well as for discharge into water bodies.


Why is it not as Popular as Conventional STP?

Why is it not as popular as conventional STP-1

Compared to conventional STPs, the Phytorid is a fairly simple system of wastewater treatment. It is just that people are not aware of the system.

This technology by NEERI has also been adopted in commercial and residential buildings all over India.


Has this Technology been Tested Anywhere?

Some of the institutions that have adopted the Phytorid system include Raj Bhavan, Mumbai; Teen Murti Bhavan, New Delhi; Raipur Development Authority, Raipur; and some other private factories.

As more people adopt it, the awareness among people will increase and the advantages of this system compared to the conventional STP will become clearer.

For people wanting a cleaner, economical, simpler, and more eco-friendly option for wastewater treatment onsite, Phytorid is certainly the way to go!


Topics: Waste Water Treatment

Dr Shashi K

Written by Dr Shashi K

Dr Shashi K is a sustainability professional with degrees in Environmental Management from Oxford University. She has experience working in Sustainability and on Green Buildings, Water, Energy and Reporting and is currently CEO of SAGE Sustainability, a consulting firm working in the field of social and environmental issues. Dr Shashi believes that the construction sector can be the foremost enabler in moving towards low carbon living.