WRD has started work to rejuvenate nearly-dry water body at a cost of Rs. 30 crore

After several decades of neglect, the Ayanambakkam lake is all set to become a storage point for Chennai’s drinking water supply.   

The Water Resources Department (WRD) has now started work to rejuvenate the lake, which is the main source of groundwater recharge for neighbouring localities, at a cost of Rs. 30 crore.

Spread over 85 hectares, the lake has the capacity to hold 290 million cubic feet of water. Once the project is completed, the storage capacity would be raised to 314 mcft. This is equal to ten days’ water supply to the city.

Residents of Ayanambakkam recall experiences of travelling in makeshift thermocol boats when the lake bund was breached during rains. However, over the years, this lake, like many other water bodies, has run dry. The remains of encroaching structures on the lake bed bear testimony to the misuse of the water body.

Ezhilarasi Prathanam, a resident of Melayanambakkam and Thiruverkadu municipality councillor, said residents of surrounding localities such as Numbal, Thiruverkadu and Koladi largely depend on the groundwater available at a depth of 20-30 feet here.

“The lake water may be used for the drinking water needs of the city. Desilting it will recharge the water table here and help municipality sink more borewells to provide drinking water,” she said.

As the first step towards stopping misuse of the water body, the supply channel to the lake, Paruthipattu anicut across Cooum river near Avadi is being converted into a concrete structure. As the neighbouring localities lack underground drainage networks, sewage has been released into the channel. However, officials say, this has not affected the quality of the lake water as the localities have not developed extensively.     

“The areas around the supply channel running for a distance of 2.2 km are developing now. We are covering the channel and laying a concrete road. The work will be completed next month,” said an official.

The 2-metre-wide and 1.5-metre-high channel will bring 100 cubic feet of water to the lake whenever the Cooum river, which is an unpolluted waterway at this point, is recharged.Several labourers are engaged in strengthening the 2.4-km-long bund.

“We are waiting for environment clearance from the Tiruvallur collectorate to desilt and deepen the water body from the present depth of 5.5 metre to 7 metre,” said an official.

 The department expects to earn revenue of Rs. 80-Rs. 90 lakh through the sale of sand excavated from the lake. Chennai Metrowater will come up with a plan to draw water once the project is completed by this year-end.   

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