Coonoor municipality assures residents of water availability for next 30 days

Amid reports of a water crisis looming in the tourist town, officials say there is enough storage in the Ralliah Dam to last about 30 days, following which wells be serviced and kept ready to be tapped into

Published - April 30, 2024 02:19 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

The Ralliah Dam in Coonoor, the town’s primary water source, has only about 50% of its total storage capacity

The Ralliah Dam in Coonoor, the town’s primary water source, has only about 50% of its total storage capacity | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Coonoor Municipality (CMC) has assured local residents that there is enough water to meet the town’s demands for the next month.

Responding to reports that the town faces an impending water crisis during the ongoing tourist season due to a lack of water in water bodies supplying the town and its residents with drinking water, CMC Commissioner, S.M. Farijan, said that as per their calculations, the current available water would be sufficient to meet the demands of local residents and businesses for the next 30-40 days.

Ms. Farijan said that the Ralliah Dam, which is the town’s primary water source, is at around 50 percent capacity. “The dam’s total storage level is 43 feet, and its current water levels are at around 24 feet. Based on our estimates, the storage levels will continue to drop by one foot every two days at current consumption levels which should comfortably last us for the next 30-40 days,” she said.

The town’s water supply is also supplemented by the Emerald Combined Water Supply Scheme, and officials said that water is being supplied to residents once every 2-3 days. They added that steps are also being undertaken to ensure that existing wells are serviced and are ready to be tapped into as water sources, in case of emergencies.

Remove invasive species, clean up waterbodies, say activists

Local activists however, say that the heatwave, combined with a lack of rain so far in 2024, underscores the need for long-term planning to ensure the district’s water security in the future. S. Manogaran, president of the Coonoor Consumer Protection Association has called on the government to expedite the removal of exotic and invasive flora from the landscape.

“Pine, acacia and eucalyptus plantations cover over 30,000 hectares in the Nilgiris. Each eucalyptus tree is believed to consume around 5,000 litres of water each year, and the presence of these trees, which serve no ecological function in the landscape, reduces water availability for human communities as well as wildlife,” said Mr. Manogaran.

He said that due to climate change, extreme weather events, such as droughts will become more common and that a combined strategy of removing invasive species from the landscape as well as restoring existing water bodies and rivers by removing encroachments and eliminating pollution of these water sources were of paramount importance.

“The lack of water as well as food in the forests due to these invasive species is also driving more animals into the town looking for food, increasing the risk of negative human-animal interactions,” said Mr. Manogaran.

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