Sep 30, 2011

Reviewing and adjusting our statement of work

Prior to coming to Coimbatore we received a statement of work outlining the activities and the deliverables related our project. Next to that Siruthuli had also sent us a draft report in which the steps needed for rejuvenating the Valankulam tank were listed. Siruthuli, together with some 25 other NGOs was asked to submit an advice to the collector (a government official, basically running the city) on how the pollution in the Valankulam tank could be taken care of. Government funds may be allocated based on that advice. We now suggested to create a high-level strategic plan on how the wastewater streams around Valankulam tank need to be directed and/or treated. Vanitha agreed with our suggestion, so that we will probably be able to finalize our statement of work today.
Any contacts or suggestions regarding our revised topic will be highly appreciated!


Sep 29, 2011

1. Field trip: dump site & sewage

A project of Siruthuli: Waste get watered with EM solution before dumped on the dump site. With help of Effective Microorganisms (EM) waste rottens quicker.
Next generation grassland? Hope not. Actually due to EM technology it doesn’t smell very badly.

The lagoon next to the dump site. From here the sewage water of Coimbatore gets pumped up to the lagoon. Another ongoing project of Siruthuli: Siruthuli treats the sewage water regularly with Microbes, before it is being used to water the surrounding trees.

Open drainage system. Very problematic!!! Since nobody can control the let-ins of industrial wastewater.
Sewage collecting point from here the sewage water gets pumped up to the Lagoon, or hopefully soon to the new sewage treatment plant (opened Jan 2011)
The sewage treatment plant, unfortunately only 30% of Coimbatore’s sewage water is connected via the drainage system to the treatment plant.

Sep 28, 2011

City Map Coimbatore

Valankulam tank is today divided in three parts: First part is divided by railway tracks; second part is divided by a street.

Hospital Wastewaster Treatment Plant

Hi all,

The Siruthuli team is looking into new ways to treat wastewater in Coimbatore. Does anyone have any information about designing/building a wastewater treatment plan in or next to a hospital in order to treat toxic waste?

How is hospital waste water treated in your country? how much does this system cost? What are the components?

We are new to this field, so any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Sep 27, 2011

About Siruthuli

That is us: from right to left: Saken from IBM US, Vanitha, managing trustee Siruthuli, Lisa from IBM Netherlands, Mr. Mylswami project coordinator Siruthuli, and Cordula from IBM Germany.

Siruthuli was founded into 2003 due to poor water situation in Coimbatore. The Noyyal river was almost lost. The 1000 year old water tanks (artificial lakes), which were formally used to irrigate fields were degenerated to dumpsites. The ground water level was down to 1000 feet. The normal wells contained less and less water. The city became dependent on bore wells.

Siruthuli’s first mission was to bring the ground water level back up. To achieve this goal one of their initiatives was to revive the historic water tank systems. Siruthuli revivalized 9 water tanks and the cross linking channels which lead water from the Noyyal river to and between the tanks. (For further activities by Siruthuli please visit their webpage:

Over the time a new problem emerged. Coimbatore is no longer a village but a city of 1.5 million. Today’s drainage system only covers 30% of the sewage water. Most of the household, factory and hospital sewage goes directly into the tanks and from the tanks into the ground water. Valankumlam tank is the most polluted tank and on top the water hyacinth are growing heavily on the water surface.

Are the sewage water and the growth of the water hyacinth related?

Sep 26, 2011

Water Hyacinth from a beautiful plant to the most hated weed

We arrived in Coimbatore. It is Monday early morning here in India and in a few hours we will meet Siruthuli our NGO we will facilitate in water hyacinth problem.
So far we did some reading (Water-hyacinth fact sheet Australia 2010, Practical Action Water Hyacinth 2007). Originally from South America and a beautiful aquatic plant like our European water lilies water hyacinth were given as presents. In Africa, Asia, some parts of Australia and USA they found more then perfect growing condition and without any natural enemies it became one of the worst aquatic weeds.
Here some biological features, what make them such a strong survivor and most hated weed:
  • Asexual reproductionWater hyacinths are building daughter plants within every fifth day. This makes them double their size within round about 12 days
  • Floating plantWater hyacinths have air in their leave stems and their roots are only hanging in the water.  If they run out of space, they just sail away.
  • Growing in thick mats (up to two meters): The mats are causing a lot of problems, reducing light and oxygen; change water chemistry; clogging intakes of irrigation, hydropower and water supply systems; restraining shipping and fishing and at least the mats making it difficult to harvest.
  • 1-1,5 mm egg shaped seeds:The seeds can last in mud or soil about 20 years. When they reconnect to water they start growing again
  • 95% water: with their transpiration water hyacinth reduce water from water bodies which are 1,6 % higher then normal evaporation
Prefect growing conditions:
  • calm and slow floating water
  • temperatures between 28- 30 degree Celsius, good growing between 22 degree Celsius -35 degrees
After all this hard facts: Does anybody of you have experienced water hyacinth in real live? How did you find the flower? What did you observer?

Sep 21, 2011

Who are we?

We're team Siruthuli - Cordula, Saken and Lisa and are about to start our Corporate Services Corps (CSC) assignment. CSC is one of IBM's corporate social responsibility programs whereby international teams of IBMers are selected to carry out a 4 week assignment for an NGO. We'll be travelling to Coimbatore in India on September 24th. Our local partner will be Siruthuli, an NGO concerned with environmental issues such as afforestation, waste management and awareness.
Siruthuli is asking us for a strategic plan regarding the water hyacinth growth in the Valankulam tank. This tank is essential for providing Coimbatore with water for irrigation, washing and other secondary uses but has been heavily infested with water hyacinth. The growth of this aggressive plant is boosted by various sources of waste water flowing into the tank.
Throughout our assignment we'll be posting on this blog regularly. Feel free to follow us and leave comments!

We're looking forward to working with Siruthuli on this exciting challenge.