In less than a week, Chennai will stop getting water from three of its four primary reservoirs as the quantity of water has plummeted below dead storage levels. As of Sunday, the total storage level at the four reservoirs at Red Hills, Poondi, Cholavaram and Chembarambakkam was a mere 58 mcft (million cubic feet) — less than one per cent of their combined capacity. During the corresponding period last year, the four reservoirs held 2.8 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water.
At Red Hills, officials on Sunday said there was only 3 mcft of water left and that would only last four more days. “We are using 50HP motors to draw water for four to five hours a day from Red Hills tank. We have deployed small motors to collect water which is stagnant at various spots. We will stop pumping in four days. There is a lot of silt and slush here,” said a senior official from the Water Resource Department (WRD).
A week ago, Metro Water stopped pumping water from the Cholavaram reservoir. Pumping was stopped from Chembarambakkam reservoir a month ago. The two lakes each have only.
One mcft of water left. Poondi is the only tank with some water left. This is the remaining Krishna water released from Kandaleru reservoir four months ago. Currently, Poondi has 53 mcft which will last a week, officials said. From the second week of June, Chennai will have to survive on water procured from secondary sources such as quarries and lakes identified by Metro Water.
With a supply of 180 MLD (millions of litres per day) to the city, the Veeranam lake remains the only steady source of water, as supply from Sikkarayapuram quarries is also likely to last only till August. “Mettur Dam has 15 tmcft, of which 2.5 tmcft is set aside to meet the drinking water needs of 10-11 districts of Tamil Nadu. If needed we can request an additional supply of water from Veeranam after two months based on the situation then,” added the official from the WRD.
Also, Metro Water officials said work had been started to tap 70 MLD of water from mines and deep wells identified at Neyveli. About 10 MLD will be pumped from July 1 from Erumaiyur quarries. With these alternate sources, Metro Water officials said 500 MLD can be supplied to city residents till November.
No piped water supply
Meanwhile, residents of Ambattur have not received piped water supply from Metro Water for a week now. Locals said supply had been erratic as water levels at Red Hills had decreased. But, since last week, supply had been completely cut-off.
“Only 40 per cent of Ambattur has Metro Water connection for drinking water. Krishnapuram, Venkatapuram, Ram Nagar, Vijayalakshmi Nagar and West Balaji Nagar are some areas which have not got supply since last Saturday. Only on Sunday, we got to supply. We are dependent on private tankers,” said D Sundaraman of Venkatapuram.