URL: http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/case-study-chennai-metropolitan-water-supply/1/203655.html

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Anna Poliski makes this connection by analyzing the growing demand for water supply in the country of India, specifically in the city of Chennai and what is being done to fill this demand.

The WRE news article, entitled “Quenching Chennai’s Thirst” was published in the journal Business Today on March 16th, 2014.  The article focuses on the hydraulic domain of water resource engineering specifically dealing with the distribution and quality of water. The article discusses the growing population in India and the need for a more stable water supply.  Most of the water in India is dependent upon the monsoon season to fill their reservoir, which can be an extremely unstable source.  The Indian government along with private companies decided to turn towards desalination due to the country’s vast coastline. Metro Water, the leading supplier of water to Chennai, now supplies up to 831 million liters of water per day to the city (Madhavan). Although the article seems to think that desalination is a viable and long-term solution to India’s ongoing water demand, it fails to discuss other issues in India’s water system. India’s limited reservoir storage and aging piped network infrastructure are also still current issues that reduce the efficiency of water supply (Srinivasan et al).

India is just one of the countries that is increasing in size at an alarmingly fast rate.  A growing population correlates directly to a larger demand in water supply. This is not only a global and economic issue, but an environmental issue as well. Desalination was once considered a nonconventional resource to supply potable water to several countries, but with advances in technology it is now highly plausible and affordable (Ghaffour et al). Finding a reliable, clean source of water that is both affordable and environmentally friendly will be the greatest challenge for both scientist and engineers for future generations to come.

Figure 1: Model developed by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board



Ghaffour N, Missimer T, Amy G. Technical review and evaluation of the economics of water desalination: Current and future challenges for better water supply sustainability. Desalination[serial online]. January 15, 2013:309:197-207. Available from:Scopus, Ipswich, MA. Accessed Marh 12,2015

Madhavan N. Quenching Chennai’s Thirst. Business Today [serial online]. March 16, 2014;23(5):110-114. Available from: Business Source Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 12, 2015.

Srinivasan, V., S. M. Gorelick, and L. Goulder (2010), A hydrologic-economic modeling approach for analysis of urban water supply dynamics in Chennai, India, Water Resour. Res., 46, W07540, doi:10.1029/2009WR008693.