Water arrives late due to leak in temporary channel; city’s needs may soon be met, say officials

After a few days of uncertainty, Krishna water finally arrived at the Tamil Nadu border in Uthukottai, Tiruvallur district on late Saturday afternoon. With it, came the promise of Chennai’s thirst being quenched.

Slight delay

While officials of the Water Resources Department (WRD) had expected the water to reach the State’s border in the early hours on Saturday, a leak in the temporary channel that runs alongside the Kandaleru Poondi (KP) canal in Ubbalamadugu, Andhra Pradesh, led to a delay, and caused officials some anxiety.

Located 100 km away from the city, the stretch of the KP canal in Ubbalamadugu near Varadaiahpalem, runs close to the Ubbalamadugu falls, which are popularly known as the Tada falls.

A two-and-a-half-hour drive on the NH 5 towards Tada leads to Varadaiahpalem. After Gummidipoondi, Tamil signboards begin to give way to those in Telugu, signalling the crossing of the State border.

Industries fade away and mango orchards and green fields dot the sides of the highway, just before the turn into Varadaiahpalem. Ubbalamadugu is another six km away, within the Satyavedu forest range.

Immediate action

Here, a group of labourers worked through the night on Friday to plug the leak formed in the five-metre wide temporary concrete channel.

The channel had been built at a length of nearly 70 metres adjacent the KP canal, specifically to divert Krishna water to Chennai, which is reeling under a severe water shortage.

A WRD official at the site said, “We spotted the leak in the channel on Friday evening. The release of Krishna water from the Kandaleru reservoir in Andhra Pradesh had dropped from 500 cubic feet per second (cusec) to 150 cusecs on Saturday. We immediately started work as a delay would mean seepage of water into the Ubbalamadugu stream.”

A team of officials from the WRD and Chennai Metrowater inspected the work that was completed late on Saturday afternoon.

R. Emaraj, chief engineer, Chennai city region, WRD, who reviewed the work with senior officials from Andhra Pradesh, said that the water then travelled another 35 km from Ubbalamadugu and arrived in Uthukottai around 3 p.m. on Saturday.

By late Saturday evening, about 30 cusecs had come in at the entry point of the canal in Tamil Nadu. “We expect the flow to be stepped up to 100 cusecs by Sunday and increased gradually over the next few days,” Mr. Emaraj said.

Another project, to build an aqueduct to allow the Ubbalamadugu stream to flow freely beneath the KP canal, is expected to be completed by September.

According to officials, once this is done, Krishna water will be able to flow through the KP canal, hassle-free.

From Poondi to city

Mr. Emaraj said that from Uthukottai, Krishna water will travel a further 25 km to reach the Poondi reservoir on Sunday.

There, it will be stored and supplied to the city in a few days. Every 500 cusecs that the reservoir receives is equal to 1,200 million litres a day, which is enough to significantly improve piped water supply to the city, he added.

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