As the mercury level soars, Chennai is increasingly feeling the pinch of water shortage.
With the levels in reservoirs coming down, plastic pots have begun to descend from the lofts of many households — after nearly a decade.
Chennai faced its last grave water situation in 2004 after the four major reservoirs dried up from lack of rains.
This summer, while the Cholavaram reservoir has gone bone-dry, the other reservoirs in Poondi, Chembarambakkam and Red Hills have only 21 per cent of their total capacity. The current storage will ensure water supply to the city for one or two months.
Residents in some areas have been perplexed for the past few days as they are either receiving less water or getting supply on alternate days. Many apartment complexes have put up notices asking residents to use water judiciously.
B. Karthik, a resident of Mylapore, said: “I use the hand pump to draw water. Since Thursday, the supply has become erratic. I am getting water on alternate days. We use water from the borewell to fill the gap. I bought more plastic pots to store water.”
Residents of Saidapet, Adyar, Mandaveli and Old Washermenpet express similar woes. S. Premavathy of Srinivasapuram, Thiruvanmiyur, said she had started saving one or two pots of water to manage the crisis as piped water supply had dipped since April. “I depend completely on Metrowater’s supply for the family’s needs. I have not been getting water in the sump for a few days now. If I knew the timings of water supply, I could at least store water in advance or buy water if I have to,” she said.
According to sources, a lack of the resource has brought down the volume of drinking water supplied to the city. Every day, the city receives a supply of water, which is at least 150 million litres lesser than the usual 830 mld.
Besides the fast-depleting levels in the reservoirs, which have not been replenished for several months now, the recent suspension of water discharge from the Kandaleru reservoir in Andhra Pradesh and the Veeranam tank in Cuddalore district has aggravated the water shortage.
Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh served as a lifeline, maintaining the same water level in the city’s reservoirs for eight or nine months. However, the supply was suspended to take up repair work of the damaged portion of the Kandaleru Poondi canal, which transports the water to Chennai, at Ubbalamadugu near Varadapalayam.
To overcome the water crisis, Chennai Metrowater is tapping groundwater sources in the well fields that it owns in Tamaraipakkam, Minjur and Poondi.
However, officials of Chennai Metrowater denied that the city was being provided with drinking water on alternate days.
“We have only reorganised water distribution in seven zones as water has to be provided from a different source. When one locality gets more water, the neighbouring areas will get less water,” said an official.
As part of its contingency plan, Metrowater has sunk 240 borewells and hand pumps across the city.
Besides the water supplied from desalination plants in Nemmeli and Minjur, nearly 50 mld are being drawn from well fields and an aquifer in the Veeranam well field. By mid-June, an additional 50 mld would be sourced from the Neyveli belt.
In the past few weeks, the water agency’s ‘dial for water’ is also receiving more calls. The number of tanker trips has increased to 2,400 trips per day, 400 more than the usual number. “We are putting up an additional filling point in Sholinganallur and reviving the one in Triplicane to meet the demand,” the official added.