Sanjay Athavale’s family are busy cycling away their mornings and it’s not for fitness purposes, though that might just be an added bonus. As their cycle pumps over 600 litres of water to their garden in Kothrud, Pune. Athavale has found a way to recycle bath water from his house by installing a bicycle run filtration plant in his premises.
51-year-old Sanjay Athavale is an old member of the Green Hills group in Pune that plants trees at the four hills in the city. “I have been with this group for more than eight years now. One day we wanted to pump water up the hill and that initiative put me in touch with Chandrakant Pathak who made this bicycle project. Although the pilot didn’t work because of maintenance issues, I really liked the idea and with help from a friend (Joshi) I set it up in my house,” he said.
Joshi (who is no more) undertook water purification projects for industries and helped Athavale with the designing. Water is collected from the showers in a separate tank that has three layers of filters. Coconut peels procured from the coconut trees in his garden and stones make the first layer, then comes the sand and the last layer is made up of ecofert, a fertilizer given to Athavale by an NGO. Kardal trees have been planted inside the tank as its roots also purify the water. Once the water has undergone this process, it is stored in a separate tank with guppy fished who feed on mosquito larvae that usually appear on still water.
“When we pedal, the water is supplied to my garden through a drip irrigation system. One minute of cycling can supply 18 litres of water and a ten minute work-out by each family member is enough for the 50 trees in my garden. The left-over water is stored and the excess goes in the drain. During monsoon we don’t have to cycle but each of us store about 600 litres in the tank with our usage every day,” said Athavale who cycles with his wife and two children.
Athavale, who develops mobile applications with his company, began recycling water with the cycle some five years ago and had to service it only once. “I tried recycling the water let out from the washing machines but the high soap concentration was killing the fishes. I stopped using that water and cleaned the tanks again, ever since I haven’t had to bother about maintenance,” he said.
He has received much praise from friends as well as locals. “Many kids have come to my house and done a project on this innovation. They have won gold medals at school for this and it makes me happy that people are intrigued by it. Many have taken references from me to apply the same process in their houses and I have directed them but I don’t know if they actually did it. I know that I find it deeply satisfying and my trees are growing as well. I can also be healthy and it is a great exercise,” he said.
Athavale has been planted over 10 thousand trees in Pune along with his group out of which five thousand receive drip irrigation. The next step for Athavale is to conserve water let out by the washing machine. “I am trying to find a system where the water won’t harm the environment. If anybody could tell me what soap or powder should be used, I can take a step ahead with that. I am trying to find an alternative but no success so far. I need someone who can guide me in this matter” he said.
You can read more about Sanjay Athavale and his work here.