Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur were once known for the high quality of their groundwater. Not anymore, writes Liffy Thomas

Everyone loves a good monsoon, a copious rain that can recharge the depleting groundwater levels. And, for residents residing close to the coastline the need is even more. Overexploitation of groundwater resources and increasing population has led to fall in the water table. So much so that many homes are getting water unfit for drinking and with high levels of saline content.

A recent study by State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre, a wing of Water Resources Department, said that seawater has intruded up to a few hundred metres in areas close to the coast such as Besant Nagar and Thiruvalluvar Nagar in Thiruvanmiyur.

The showers during the last few months have come as some relief in a few areas.

The Venkataramans’, for instance, use bore water only for cleaning and washing purpose. A few years ago, the household solely depended on bore water, even for drinking purpose. This is despite the fact that they are not staying close to the beach. “When we first occupied our flat, water was available at 10 to 15 feet. Now, one has to dig at least 40 feet,” says N.S.Venkataraman, a resident of 4th Cross Street, Besant Nagar for 25 years. He says it is very unusual for Besant Nagar to see depleting water table as the area was unoccupied 40 years ago.

The data also said that the water table is at an average of four metres below the ground, which is a metre less than the level recorded last year. Old time residents are more disappointed and say Corporation must get more vigilant to check overexploitation of ground water.

Kamakshi Subramaniyan, another resident of Besant Nagar, says it was theory that the water quality is good close to the sea. However, it is no more the same. “Some 10 years ago, people use to carry water from my home such was the quality. Now, nobody wants,” she says.

Water experts and representatives of various non-governmental organisations such as Rain Centre are campaigning for harnessing rainwater. As Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur have sandy soil formation, the rate of percolation is high compared to other areas away from the coast. It would help recharge the groundwater and reduce the damage done to the aquifer, they said. Residents must also focus on harnessing the driveway runoff water apart from roof top water to reap the maximum benefits, they said.

Members of Valimiki Nagar Residents Welfare Association are doing their bit by educating people to recharge terrace and ground water. “Water on the drive way has been channelised such that it gets captured on to a well. We got this done by spending Rs.8,000,” says Shridhar Subramaniam, resident of Resideny Balakrishna Apartments at Valmiki Nagar. “Now, this has been extended to a few other apartments.”

(With inputs by K. Lakshmi)

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