Come summer, water tops the priority list of most households. With the demand on the rise, government and private agencies are gearing up to meet the requirements of customers.

The Chennai Metrowater is supplying 774 million litres of water a day (mld) to residents of city and suburbs. Of this, the piped supply accounts to 685 mld. The comfortable availability of water resources has helped the water agency sustain the supply at this rate for the past one month, which is much more than the last year's daily supply of 575 mld.

As on Saturday, the four reservoirs at Red Hills, Cholavaram, Poondi and Chembarampakkam, have a total storage of 7,545 million cubic feet of water compared to 6,771 mcft recorded during the same period last year.

Though water supply from the Veeranam tank has dwindled from 180 mld to 32 mld, the gap is being offset by Minjur desalination plant that provides 95 mld. The water agency is confident about sustaining the supply till the year-end.

Officials of Water Resources Department said about 190 cubic feet of water are being drawn daily from the Red Hills reservoir. The storage in the reservoir has dipped slightly as water extraction from Poondi reservoir has been suspended temporarily to facilitate repair of the canal transmitting water to other water bodies.

As there has been no rainfall so far this summer, evaporation accounts for 20 per cent of the loss. It rained nearly 216 mm in the catchment areas of Red Hills reservoir alone last May, an official said.

Lorry trips

Unlike the previous years, the Metrowater lorry trips have decreased.

S. Kesavaram, joint secretary of Metrowater Tankers Lorry Owners Association, said that last year, about 10 trips were operated by each tanker. This has reduced to seven trips this year. About 300 lorries are engaged by the Metrowater for both street and paid water supply. While Rs.600 is charged for a load of 9,000 litres for households, the commercial rate is Rs.765.

Pointing out that 95 per cent of large complexes and hotels use private water supply, which cost nearly Rs.1,000 per load, the Association members suggested that the water agency launch a campaign targeting commercial customers to increase its revenue. Most of the private water suppliers sourced water from Seneerkuppam near Poonamallee and Ambattur.

Packaged drinking water

Packaged drinking water has become an indispensable component in the water consumption pattern of the city. According to A. Shakespeare, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association, the consumption of packaged water has increased from 45 lakh litres daily to 65 lakh litres a day this month.

More people have starting preferring packaged water as they perceive it to be of better quality.

Sale of water packed in bubbletops alone is 50 lakh litres a day. Treated groundwater in suburbs of Red Hills and Mambakkam are used by many packaged drinking water units. The industry already has 240 units around the city and more people are applying for licences. During summer, fake products also increases, he added.

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