Bengaluru stares at water crisis after reservoir levels hit rock bottom

Water level at KRS, Kabini dams nears dead storage; BWSSB to drill more borewells in Bengaluru
Bengaluru stares at water crisis after reservoir levels hit rock bottom

BENGALURU: Bengaluru and Mysuru-Mandya regions are in for serious water shortage this summer. The water levels at Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini  reservoirs, the two main sources of water supply to the city, are nearing dead storage. Left with no option, the BWSSB now plans to drill more borewells in Bengaluru to scrape whatever ground water is left.

According to Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), as on Monday, KRS storage was a mere 5.932 tmcft compared to 17.11 tmcft this time last year. The total capacity of KRS is 45.05 tmcft. While Kabini reservoir has 2.32 tmcft as against 5.56 tmcft last year, its total capacity is 15.67 tmcft.  Bengaluru alone requires 2tmcft water every month.

With evaporation and transmission losses, the reservoirs are expected to hit dead storage sooner than expected. This may not bode well if pre-monsoon showers too fail. In other words, KSNDMC officials says the situation may turn worse after March. According to experts, after the level in KRS reaches 5.59tmc, no water should be drawn as aquatic life lives in 1tmcft feet below this level. Dead storage is 4.4tmcft. 

For now, the BWSSB’s only contingency plan is to drill more borewells. According to BWSSB Chairman Tushar Girinath, there are around 7,920 borewells in BBMP limits. “We did a survey of these borewells and found 938 to be non-functional. We will see if they can be revived,’’ he said.

Girinath added that no qualified bidders came forward despite calling for a tender. They plan to repeat the exercise. “We might drill 200-400 borewells depending on the crisis and water demand,’’ he said.  This apart, BBMP councillors too plan to drill two to three borewells in their wards. BWSSB is also planning to take the help of private tankers, who supply water from private borewells, to supply to localities facing crisis. 

The Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL) also plans to pump water from KRS reservoir to Shivanakate canal and then towards TK Halli. “This is just a proposal,’’ said B Shivashankar, MD of CNNL. But BWSSB officials said there are chances of water wastage in the process.

Water experts have given a thumbs down to the borewell idea. Capt Raja Rao, water expert, said, “As per Karnataka Regulation for Protection of Sources of Drinking Water Act, authorities cannot give permission to drill any more borewells. But since it is a government agency, it can go ahead.” But he warned that the situation will turn worse as water, which was once available 200m below few years ago, now is available only at 800m. 

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