Good water management and surprise summer rain have resulted in the State government throwing open the sluices of the Stanley reservoir here on Monday, a week prior to June 12, the customary date of opening, for delta irrigation.

The dam water level stood at 116 at the time of opening.

The PWD has decided to maintain staggered discharges. It released 6000 cusecs at 10 a.m. in the river course and later increased it to 12000 cusecs, which, according to S. Asokan, SE, WRD, Lower Cauvery Basin Circle, Thanjavur, “will continue till further orders.”

Collectors in downstream districts had been alerted to make those living nearer to the river course and low-lying areas to move to safer places.

A record

This is the first time in 64 years of the dam's 78-year old history and after Independence that the water is being released for irrigation a week ahead of the customary date of opening. The last time this happened was in the year 1947, when the dam was opened on June 1, 1947.

And this was the first time the dam was opened in advance when its water level stood at 116 feet with storage of 87.232 tmcft bettering the previous best of 114.70 feet and 85.269 tmcft on June 9, 1941.

The dam, till now, has been opened 10 times ahead of the customary date. It was opened on June 12 on 16 occasions. Water was released after June 12, 52 times, including last year, when it was done on July 28. The dam released water for the delta for the first time on June 12, 1934 after it was commissioned.

The rain after November last year, especially in the delta region, and copious flows in the Bhavani and the Amaravathi had reduced water needs in delta considerably. Hence the level could be built up and maintained at a steady 100 feet. Surprise summer rain in April and May enhanced the inflow thus bringing the level to 116 feet on Monday.

“Better water management and summer showers in catchment areas have enabled us to open the dam in advance,” pointed out an official.

State PWD Minister K.V. Ramalingam, who opened the sluice gates, said nearly 16 lakh acres would be irrigated this year. Water would reach Kallanai on June 9.

PWD secretary M. Saikumar said the water release would continue till January 28, 2012. He asked the ryots of Cauvery delta region to use the water economically and cooperate for its proper distribution and efficient utilisation. “If necessary, turn system will be introduced.”

Water managers claimed that water could reach tail-end areas quicker this time since rivers and water carrying channels had been desilted for a distance of 1,656 kms.

State Highways and Minor Ports Minister Edappadi K. Palanisamy, Collector K. Maharabushanam, former AIADMK Minister C. Ponnaiyan and senior officials, including PWD SE Ganesamarachanm, EE S. Chandrasekaran, AEEs S. Kumarasamy and K. Murugesan were present.