Reservoirs full but Chennai still buys water

Heavy rains have kept Thervoy Kandigai reservoir brimming since Sunday. In fact, it’s been filled to capacity multiple times since it was commissioned last November.

Published: 11th November 2021 03:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th November 2021 03:13 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

CHENNAI: Heavy rains have kept Thervoy Kandigai reservoir brimming since Sunday. In fact, it’s been filled to capacity multiple times since it was commissioned last November. But not a drop from the waterbody — built at a cost of Rs 380 crore to augment Chennai’s drinking water supply — has been used.

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That’s because the city’s other reservoirs (Chembarambakkam, Poondi, Red Hills and Cholavaram) already have enough water, says a senior official from the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB). 

But water is still being bought from desalination plants to meet the city’s needs. On Tuesday too, 68 MLD was purchased from the Nemmeli desalination plant, and 45 MLD from the Minjur desalination plant, triggering questions from experts.

The Thervoy Kandigai reservoir, which primarily stores water from the Krishna, was built about 50 km from Chennai after acquiring about 1,485 acres. This year, Andhra Pradesh released over 4 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) of Krishna water into Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu government demands water from the Krishna every year, but clearly, it’s not being used.

Water at hand’s reach, yet Chennai yearns for more

Over the past year, the CMWSSB gradually increased the drinking water supply to Chennai from 850 MLD (millions of litres per day) to 1,000 MLD. But even going by the city’s population in 2010, the requirement is 1,200 MLD.

The Thervoy Kandigai reservoir can facilitate a supply of 66 MLD to the city. “If the reservoirs had enough water, why is water still being bought from desalination plants? If Thervoy Kandigai is put to use instead of desalination plants, we can reduce the carbon footprint and spending of the State,” professor S Janakarajan, an expert in water management and disaster-risk reduction, points out.

The PWD says the issue isn’t in their hands. “We only constructed the reservoir; it’s the CMWSSB that oversees water supply. If water had been drawn ever since it was commissioned, there would now be space for more water,” says a PWD official.

Another problem in meeting the city’s high water requirement is infrastructure. Metro Water pipelines still haven’t been laid in many regions. As rains continue to lash Chennai, Chembarambakkam is at 73 per cent of its capacity, Poondi at 80 per cent, Cholavaram at 77 per cent, Red Hills at 83 per cent, and Thervoy Kandigai, is filled to the brim.

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