This research paper attempts to understand and map the Reverse Osmosis (RO) phenomenon, a technology that is turning out to be an important solution for drinking water treatment in rural Gujarat. Treatment plants with capacity ranging from 10 litres per hour (lph) to 6000 lph are now supplying drinking water in several hundred villages of the state. Small sized plants with capacity < 20 lph are used by individual families whereas medium to large sized plants (>100 lph) are being used for public consumption.
It explains the osmosis and reverse osmosis process, and details the landscape of RO plants in Gujarat across three models of ownership/operation that are in vogue - domestic RO plants, community-based RO plants and commercial packaged drinking water plants. It also examines the factors that motivate users as well as operators in adopting or setting up RO plants, the market trends and current policies that are relevant to this sector.
It notes that in future, in the south Gujarat stretch having a large density of plants, safe disposal of effluent (reject) water will become an important issue, as approximately 0.5 million litres/day of high TDS (>1000) effluent is let out into the environment and its consequences on top soil, stream water quality and biota can be significant in the longer run.
Planning of future treatment systems in rural areas, thus, needs to keep in mind the need of the community, proper maintenance, awareness generation amongst potential consumers, proper regulation of price and attention to safe disposal of effluent from the plants.