The Yamuna River in Delhi is facing challenges due to elevated levels of ammonia, surpassing the acceptable limit. This situation is affecting water treatment at the Wazirabad and Chandrawal plants operated by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). The excessive ammonia is causing untreated industrial chemicals and sewage to enter the raw water supply chain, impacting the availability of drinking water in various parts of Delhi. To address this ongoing issue caused by industrial pollution in Haryana, the DJB is planning to construct an ammonia treatment plant.
Recently, on a Sunday night, the ammonia levels in the Yamuna exceeded the manageable limit again, causing a 25% disruption in water treatment at the Wazirabad and Chandrawal plants, with no improvement since then. Throughout the year, the DJB has grappled with elevated ammonia levels in the river, leading to the contamination of the raw water supply chain and affecting the city’s drinking water capacity.
The DJB, responsible for supplying potable water in Delhi, relies on raw water from the Yamuna, which passes through Haryana before reaching Delhi. The existing water treatment plants are designed to handle raw water with ammonia levels below 1 part per million (ppm). The current crisis has resulted in reduced drinking water supply to areas such as NDMC areas, Kalkaji, South Extension, Greater Kailash, Model Town, Karol Bagh, Patel Nagar, Moolchand, and parts of Delhi Cantonment.
To address the recurring problem, the Delhi government announced the construction of an ammonia treatment plant in March. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal instructed officials to complete the plant within six months during a high-level meeting. A detailed project report is underway, refining the initial proposal.
The Delhi government attributes the high ammonia levels to the discharge of ammonia and industrial wastewater from Haryana into the Yamuna. DJB’s monitoring team identified raw drain water mixing directly into the river through two drains in Haryana as a significant contributor. Additionally, industrial pollution in Haryana, with water from units in Sonipat, Panipat, and Rohtak flowing into the Yamuna, has been blamed for the rise in ammonia levels in Delhi.
To manage high ammonia levels in water treatment plants, clean water is redirected from other plants to dilute pollution levels. In November, the new water minister, Atishi, proposed in situ treatment to reduce ammonia levels in the Wazirabad reservoir. This method allows the reservoir to treat water with higher ammonia levels, preventing the shutdown of water treatment plants when limits are exceeded.