Damage in a low dam-like structure causes leakage; repairs under way

The city’s primary reservoir, Red Hills, is leaking precious water meant for Chennai’s drinking water supply.

Damage in one of its weirs (low dams that help regulate water flow) has caused the reservoir to lose water for nearly a month now, say residents living close to the sluice gates.

Chennai’s water supply is augmented by four reservoirs in all, and the nearly 140-year-old Red Hills reservoir serves as the primary storage. It receives water from Poondi and Cholavaram reservoirs, and is the last stop before water is transmitted to Kilpauk Water Works of Metrowater.

The government is now carrying out repair work to strengthen the reservoir at a cost of Rs. 10.56 crore. The work, including strengthening and widening of the bund, is expected to be completed by March.

Residents of Red Hills and its neighbouring localities who have witnessed the water seepage from the weir say swift action must be taken to prevent wastage of drinking water.

The two weirs, which earlier functioned as structures to release excess water from the water body when it reached the full-tank level, are now water-retaining structures as they have been replaced by shutters. One of the weirs close to the main bund has been strengthened by plugging pores with a mix of cement slurry.

Anandan, a resident of M.K. Gandhi Street, close to the water body, says sand bags have been placed to arrest the leaks. If left unattended, the damages may get bigger.

The 228-metre-long weir has not undergone any repair work since the formation of the reservoir.

An official of the Water Resources Department says the department is awaiting funds to repair the weir.

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