Water supply to Chennai cut by 25%

With Veeranam lake parched and city reservoirs drying up, Chennai Metro Water has cut down domestic water supply, fearing a near drought in the months ahead.

Senior CMWSSB (Chennai metropolitan water supply and sewerage board) sources told DC that they have unofficially cut down the quantum of water supplied in the city by not less than 25 per cent in some areas.

Worse, the reduction was made from volume very recently supplied and not the standard 135 lpcd (liters per capita per day) set by central public health organisation.

Per capita water supply has fallen below 70lpcd in several areas, sources revealed attributing the reduction to a failed southwest monsoon and also the forecast for the northeast monsoon, expected by mid October is not quite encouraging.

The combined storage in all the four reservoirs Chembarambakkam, Cholavaram, Poondi, and Puzhal reservoirs at present is only 3.6 tmcft as against the total storage of 11.06 tmcft.

The prevailing water shortage and speed at which bore wells dry up in Chennai do not surprise the water managers. They are aware that the water spread area or lakes that recharge groundwater have shrunk by over 50 per cent in Chennai over years.

According to official documents, copies of which are available with this newspaper, pertaining to 29 lakes the state PWD handed over to Chennai Metro Water in and around the city, the total water spread area of 21 lakes is 98.78 lakh square meters and the volume of water spread area handed over to the metro water was 64.15 lakh sq meters.

Interestingly, about 48.36 lakh sq meters of water-spread area was encroached by buildings and huts in places where once flourished aquatic fauna and flora.

Even as per the PWD record, lakes in Mogappair, Valasaravakkam, Virugambakkam, Kolathur, Senneerkuppam, Adambakkam, Ullagaram and Talakanancheri in Tambaram are fully encroached and not in existence. Of the remaining lakes, the worst affected is Tambaram Puduthangal lake, where 9.65 lakh sq meters was encroached and PWD handed over only 77,300 sq meters to CMWSSB (Chennai metropolitan water supply and sewerage board).

This is followed by Velachery Lake, which lost 7.51 lakh sq meters of the total 9.75 lakh to encroachers.

The encroached water spread area is nothing but the precious ground and surface water Chennaiites are deprived off, reasoned a senior PWD expert adding that the lakes or water spread area, if they were not lost, would have doubled be present surface and groundwater potential of Chennai and it would have been readily available for supply to the city.

Welcoming the 4.2tmcft capacity addition proposed by the state, PWD experts said Tamil Nadu’s reliance on Krishna water or neighbouring states could be minimized if the local surface storages facilities are carefully preserved.

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