Red alert: Worst water crisis see Chennai's reservoir dry after 14 years

 The reservoir previously ran dry in 1983 and then in 2003-2004; and in the first week of November 2015, had around 20 million cubic feet of water before rains came to the city’s rescue.

Published: 18th July 2017 10:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th July 2017 10:09 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Chennai is facing a water crisis similar to that of 2003-04, as the Red Hills reservoir, one of the city’s key water sources, has dried up for the first time in nearly 14 years. The reservoir previously ran dry in 1983 and then in 2003-2004; and in the first week of November 2015, had around 20 million cubic feet of water before rains came to the city’s rescue, said a Metro Water official. “Our only hope is the desalination plants — which provide 180 MLD of water — and groundwater sources,” the official added.
With several parts of the city dependent on water tankers and bo­rewells, Metro Water has alr­e­a­dy nearly halved its supply. Water managers are hoping to maintain the city’s supply at 470 MLD.

The impact of the drop in water supply can be seen on groundwater levels as more than two-thirds of households use borewells. “We dug a 117-foot-deep borewell, but since we couldn’t tap water, plan to dig till 200 feet so we get enough for our household needs,” says Jagdish from Purusaiwalkam.

The huge extraction of groundwater by Metro Water has been a cause of concern among farmers. Nearly 200 borewells as well as Veeranam lake and Neyveli Lignite Corporation mines are supplying around 115 MLD of water to the city, say Metro Water sources. While officials do accept the concern of farmers, quenching the thirst of Chennai’s residents has been the major focus.


After tapping 4 MLD of water from Porur Lake and 30 MLD of potable water from 22 stone quarries in Sikkarayapuram, Metro Water is now looking at tapping the Eramaiyur quarries in Mu­­d­i­c­h­ur for water. Water Resources Department officials told Express that the Andhra Pradesh government is yet to reply to a letter from the department highlighting the water crisis in the state and a requisition for supply of water.

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