The water crisis in the city may begin to ease from September. Two major sources of its drinking water supply are awaiting their share of inflows from waterbodies upstream to boost their storage.
Torrential rainfall in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is likely to push up storage in Veeranam tank, in Cuddalore district, and the Kandaleru reservoir, in Andhra Pradesh, which are nearly dry now.
With the Mettur dam fast filling up and discharge likely to increase in a few days, the Veeranam tank is expected to receive inflows in 10 days, according to the Water Resources Department. On Monday, the inflow into Mettur dam rose to 2.4 lakh cusecs and the storage touched 62 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) against its capacity of 93 tmcft. Sluice gates of Mettur dam will be opened on Tuesday to cater to the irrigation and drinking water needs of Cauvery delta districts.
Water from Mettur dam will be released to Keelanai through Kollidam river. It will reach the Veeranam tank, which is in the tail-end of the Cauvery river system, through Vadavar channel. Officials of the WRD said, at present, Veeranam tank has a storage of 57 million cubic feet, much lower than its capacity of 1,456 mcft. If it receives an inflow of about 1,000 cusecs, it will reach its maximum storage in a fortnight.
Though Chennai Metrowater is continuing to draw nearly 180 million litres a day from the Veeranam tank region, half the volume is sourced from borewells in Paravanar river belt and Neyveli mines. Even if the tank gets filled up, it will help replace the groundwater sources and the same volume of 180 mld for the city will be maintained, sources said.
Wait for water
While water from the Veeranam tank would help sustain the present water supply, city water agencies look forward to Krishna water as it is significant to improve storage in the city’s bone-dry reservoirs. This would eventually help in stepping up the city’s piped water supply.
Officials of the WRD noted that water discharged from Srisailam reservoir is yet to reach Somasila reservoir and then the Kandaleru reservoir. It may take another two weeks for the reservoirs upstream to get filled and water to be released to Chennai through Kandaleru-Poondi canal.
Meanwhile, Chennai is managing with drinking water supply of 525 million litres on alternate days. The city is now largely dependent on groundwater sources. Besides, water from agricultural wells and Metrowater well fields, 10 mld of water is being tapped from abandoned quarries in Erumaiyur.
Since July, water trains from Jolarpet have been bringing 5.5 mld of water against the initial planned volume of 10 mld. “We are waiting for Southern Railway to sanction another train to increase trips to Jolarpet,” said sources.