Major reservoirs are brimming; Water Resources Department plans to seek Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh in May
Every summer brings with it scorching heat and concerns over water shortage in Chennai. This year, however, the city may escape scarcity as there is sufficient storage to supply drinking water till the onset of the northeast monsoon in October.
After many years, the reservoirs that meet the city’s needs are brimming with water this summer. As the five reservoirs have 75% of their capacity, the Water Resources Department (WRD) plans to seek Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh only in May. Another reason is the ongoing work to reconstruct the lining of the Kandaleru Poondi Canal on a vulnerable stretch of 4 km. About 50% of the work, executed at a cost of ₹24 crore, has so far been completed.
“We plan to approach the Andhra Pradesh government in May for Krishna water release for the next spell. The quantum to be discharged for the city’s needs and the period of release will be decided after a meeting with the Krishna River Management Board. We will be able to maintain storage at the same level in the reservoirs here once water is released from the Kandaleru reservoir upstream for the next spell and save water for the next year, too,” said an official of the WRD.
Though water discharge exclusively for Chennai has been reduced, the Kandaleru Poondi Canal at the State border continues receiving a minimum of 35 cubic feet per second (cusecs). Water released to areas in Andhra Pradesh for irrigation travels to the Tamil Nadu border. This minimal flow has helped to offset the storage lost in evaporation.
Officials also recalled that Krishna water had built the storage in the reservoirs, besides the rainwater that flowed from the catchments last year. The fifth reservoir at Thervoy Kandigai Kannankottai filled up in its very first year of inauguration. An anicut, or a storage structure, across the Araniar crossing the Kandaleru Poondi Canal near Uthukottai taluk overflowed recently, a rare sight in summer.
Since September last, Chennai has received 7,638 mcft, the third highest quantum of Krishna water since 1996. “We are still receiving water from Kandaleru. We may surpass the highest amount of 8,198 mcft discharged during 2011-12,” the official said.
Metrowater plans to continue supply of 830 million litres of water a day (mld) in the city. While it has reverted to the daily supply in the core areas, the added areas where the piped network is functional get water on alternate days. “We have reduced supply through tankers to 4,200 daily trips and engaged 460 lorries. Trips on payment have also come down to 1,500 as the water table and the piped supply have improved. We want to focus on distribution through pipelines and to restrict mobile supply to unserved streets and the payment mode,” said an official.
The agency has kept water stored in abandoned quarries and other lakes, like the Retteri, as there is adequate storage in the reservoirs. As the WRD has let Veeranam tank in Cuddalore dry up for improvements, Metrowater is drawing 96 mld from mine fields, the Paravanar and the desalination plants to fill the gap in the city distribution. .