The city is witnessing a water scarcity situation after 12 years with all available sources slowly drying up. In a desperate measure to tackle water shortage, Chennai Metrowater will soon start pumping dead storage as well in the reservoirs.
Dead storage will have to be pumped out, since the water level has gone below the shutters in the water bodies, and thus, will not naturally flow into the channels.
While the Cholavaram reservoir, smaller among the four city reservoirs, went dry several months ago, the Poondi reservoir, prime storage point of Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh, has only 54 million cubic feet (mcft) against its capacity to hold 3,231 mcft. The combined storage in the reservoirs has touched a dead storage of 988 mcft against capacity of over 11,000 mcft. Krishna water that was feeding storage into city reservoirs was suspended a month ago for lack of rains, the storage position has become precarious.
Besides pumping out the existing sparse resources that will last three more weeks, Metrowater also plans to hire 50 more lorries to meet the growing water demand.
At present, the city is being provided with 580 million litres a day on alternate days. Many areas like Choolaimedu, Nungambakkam, Mylapore and T. Nagar are already experiencing an erratic piped water supply and several residents are opting for tankers to bridge the shortfall.
This has meant an increase in tankers criss-crossing the length and breadth of the city. About 500 tankers take nearly 4,900 trips a day. Of this, 1,900 are trips on payment alone.
Many residents complain that they struggle to get tanker loads on payment as they have to wait in long queues in area offices with their tax receipt to avail a tanker load, particularly in areas 8 and 9. However, Metrowater officials say residents may book payment trips in depot offices and this was a temporary measure to avoid misuse of tanker water.
Unlike 2003 and 2004, the city has expanded with more areas merged into the core city. But two desalination plants added to the sources have saved the city from worsening crisis, say Metrowater officials.
The water agency sources nearly 100 mld of water from agricultural wells hired in Tiruvallur district. “We still have 55 mld from the Paravanaaru river belt in Cuddalore district in reserve for city supply,” an official added.