Oily film in well used for drinking water project due to excess iron content: KWA engineers

The well with the oily film on the surface. Photo: Special Arrangement

Idukki: Kerala Water Authority (KWA) engineers on Tuesday said the oily film found in a well, which provides water to over 100 families in the Kannadipara–Karikanampara Hills at Kodathi ward in Muttom panchayat, is due to the excess presence of iron in the soil of the region.

The District Collector had on Tuesday morning directed KWA to stop pumping water from a pond and a well, which are drinking water sources for the panchayat. “We tested the water at the district lab of KWA in Thodupuzha. The total solids (TS) and total dissolved solids (TDS) are normal. Only the iron content was found above the usual limit. We will be cleaning the water body by Wednesday and resume pumping,” said Antony E J, assistant executive engineer.

The project is an open well scheme from which water is pumped to families residing on the hilltop, 200m above the well. Water is also collected from the pond situated near the well for the project.

“The pumping was halted on Monday night after the oily film in the well increased and the volume of water went down. The collector contacted us after reports of the same appeared in the media. We are using chlorine and bleaching power to clean the well with an apparatus attached to the pumping machine.

“The work for a Jala Jeeva project is going on at Perumattam, jointly funded by the Union and state governments, to pump water from Malankara Dam to the Kannadipara–Karikanampara Hills. Once that project, 50 per cent of which is completed, is commissioned, the open well drinking water scheme will be halted,” they added.

The engineers also said to remove iron from the water, an iron exchanging plant needs to be set up in the area, and it would be too costly. Ward member Dolly Raju said the only source of water for the residents in the area was the well and that Muttom panchayat has not yet started providing water to the residents, including her, who reside on the rocky hilltop. “There is no smell or oil content in the water we get from the project, which was set up several years ago. The new drinking water project to bring water from the dam would take one more year to complete," Dolly added.

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