PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF RO PLANTS IN MALWA REGION by Hardeep Singh
There has been a continuous decrease in the availability of fresh water resources for daily routine purposes nowadays and in the recent past especially in developing countries. Though the urban areas have well developed facilities for fresh water availability but the major issue is in the rural areas which are deprived of both centralized and decentralized treatment facilities. One such region is the Malwa region of Punjab state where high water contamination problems have been incurred. These regions were equipped with high RO plants by the government of Punjab in 25 villages with one RO system for each village in order to provide proper drinking water supplies for the inhabitants. But the regions were still continuously faced with health problems. So this study was conducted in order to evaluate the performance of RO systems in five such villages by collecting water samples from the RO inlet, pure and rejected RO waste and also determining their effect on the surrounding ground water by collecting samples along the RO site periphery at distances of 200-800 feet at an interval of 200 feet each which has a bore hole depth of 40-60 feet. Further this study assessed the power consumption and running costs of these RO systems and hence evaluating their overall performance efficiency in terms of treatment efficiency, impact on the surrounding ground water resources and their power consumption and hence running costs. The results showed that the TDS and sulphate values almost doubled in each case of RO reject as compared to RO inlet which could be a reason for increase in the TDS and sulphate values in the surrounding areas signifying the negative effect of RO reject on the surrounding ground water. Likewise, the hardness, fluoride and chloride content showed
a significant increase in RO reject which could again be linked to their increased values in the surrounding ground water. The contamination in the surrounding area due to RO reject could be linked to the diffusion of contaminants. Also, the RO pure showed the presence of total coli form in the drinking water which was to get treated by UV lamp and hence raises a question on the RO working. However, turbidity, pH and nitrate did not show much variation in the inlet and reject values but the nitrate value was more than the permissible value. Further, the comparison of values of the east and west direction and also of north and south direction gave an indication of the hydraulic gradient of the areas which was again a reason for increased values in one particular direction. The cost analysis showed that approx. 60,000 rupees are spent by the government on one RO plant monthly. The study concluded that in spite of a lot of expenditure by the government on these RO plants, their performance is not up to the mark; instead they have served as a source of increasing ground water pollution which calls for a need of further treatment of RO reject water.