The breach of one of the shutters of the Pazhassi Irrigation Project (PIP) barrage across the river at Kuyiloor near Mattannur has raised concern about the impact of heavy leakage of water on supply of drinking water as the project reservoir is the major source of water supply in the district.
PIP officials say that a standby gate could be lowered to stop the leakage of water through the breached radial shutter of the barrage only if the water level could be brought to the level of 16 metres from the current 20.10 metres. The reservoir had 24 metre water level till the 10th radial shutter as well as the emergency standby gate breached on January 19. According to the officials, though the full reservoir level (FRL) is 26.52 metre, water could not be maintained at that level because of leakage from damaged shutters.
While the officials are awaiting permission from the district administration higher-ups for lowering the water level to do the work of installing the standby gate, the heavy leakage of water that has already occurred and further leakage from possible opening of the shutters to lower the water level have raised concern that it may cause serious drinking water shortage in the district.
Source of drinking water
Though the PIP was originally meant for irrigating 16,100 hectares of land under cultivation in the district, it is mainly treated as a source of water for drinking water schemes.
The radial shutter breached when works are already sanctioned for the maintenance of the damaged shutters. The works include replacement of two damaged shutters and making of two emergency shutters. According to the officials, the radial shutter failed even as the proposal for its maintenance had been pending for governmental sanction.
Despite the concern that releasing water from the reservoir to lower the water level down to 16 metres bodes ill for the water supply from the reservoir in the coming months, especially in summer months, the irrigation officials say that even if the reservoir is emptied to do the repair work, it will be replenished by the natural springs of the river.