Drinking water supply during this summer in four southern districts may be unprecedentedly erratic and give a major headache to the official machinery as storage level in Papanasam and Manimuthar dams that collectively take care of the drinking water supply in these districts has fallen sharply.
Against the annual average rainfall of 814.80 mm, Tirunelveli district recorded the precipitation of 722.32 mm last year - a deficit rainfall of 11%. To make things worse, the district, which would get the average rainfall of 50 mm during January, had to content with just 16.80 mm in last January which is 67% lesser.
Consequently, the Papanasam, Servalar, Manimuthar, Vadakku Pachchaiyar, Nambiyar and Kodumudiyar dams have a collective storage of less than 2,700 million cubic feet against the maximum cumulative capacity 12,882 mcft.
The cumulative storage of the dams on January 30 last was 5,140.83 mcft (39.90%). Since it has now fallen below 2,700 mcft, drinking water supply in the summer is expected to become a serious issue.
With the storage level in the Papanasam dam dwindling fast, water level has fallen to 19 feet against its maximum storage level of 143 feet and the reservoir has only less than 10% of water. The Manimuthar dam, the district’s largest reservoir, has the storage level of 76 feet (38%) against its maximum level of 118 feet.
So, the quantum of discharge of water from these two dams decides the health of the Tamirabharani. When the discharge becomes thin, the flow of water in the perennial river will also become poor.
The TWAD Board has sunk 236 active infiltration wells along the 122-km-long Tamirabharani watercourse from Papanasam to Punnaikayal to supply drinking water to Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts.
Since the situation will be really disturbing during this summer with the storage level dwindling in the dams, flow of water in the river will shrink rapidly in the days to come.
“We’ve planned to keep the areas around the infiltration wells wet by digging channels within the river to sustain the supply to the maximum possible extent when the flow of water becomes thin.
We also have to ensure regular supply of water from the Tamirabharani to the industries in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts which accounts for a huge quantity of water. So, we’re in the brink of really tough days,” said a TWAD Board official.