Pumping from this reservoir may have to be stopped: officials
Bangalore: With the water level in Thippagondanahalli reaching an all time low — plummeting to 14.5 ft as on Saturday — the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) officials said they may have to stop pumping from this reservoir in the next few days.
“We will continue pumping 30 million litres of water a day (mld) till the level goes below 12 ft We will keep a base stock of 250 million cubic feet in the reservoir so that the bio-diversity and acquatic life in the reservoir is not affected. We are helpless,” a top BWSSB official told The Hindu.
Constructed in 1933 by Sir M. Visvesvaraya, the 74-foot TG Halli reservoir gets water from river Arkavathy. However, it has not filled to its capacity since 1998.
While officials attribute the problem to the rampant encroachment of the catchment area of the Arkavathy, irrigation and water experts blame the BWSSB and the Government for not implementing the rules.
“Although several government orders have been issued in the past that people should not drill borewells and develop layouts in the catchment areas, this has been happening continuously, thereby reducing the run off into the reservoir,” said Capt. S. Raja Rao, an expert in water issues, who is also the former Minor Irrigation Secretary.
Watershed development programmes by the Agriculture Department and construction of check dams on canals in the catchment areas by individuals to recharge groundwater are the main reasons for this crisis, he said.
He suggested that the Government set up an experts' committee to study the issue and also find alternative sources of water for Bangalore.
Residents of areas in western parts of the city, who get water from this source, are already complaining of muddy water. “As it is, the water supply is irregular and whatever little we get is muddy. We were told the water has touched ground level in TG Halli and that was why we were getting muddy water,” Bharati Shankar, a resident of Nandini Layout said.
Checking for impurities
But officials said the water was being filtered and chlorinated before supply. “We are checking all parameters for impurities. We will stop supply if the water is really bad,” a top official said.
The board, which used to draw 60 mld from this reservoir, reduced it gradually to 30 mld because of depleting levels over the years.
Although the officials are hopeful of managing with the 870 mld that is being drawn from the Cauvery, Capt. Raja Rao said the situation would be difficult if alternatives are not worked out. “In 2003, the water level reached 61 ft against the reservoir's capacity of 74 ft. After that, we have hardly seen considerable accumulation in this reservoir,” said Krishnamurthy, an old-timer who lives near TG Halli.