Depleting reservoir levels, dried up lakes, wells and borewells has resulted in a drinking water scarcity looming over Karnataka. The state government has declared 3,122 regions to be severely affected by drinking water scarcity.
According to data obtained from the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, 138 out of 176 taluks in Karnataka have very low groundwater levels. Of these, the worst affected are Bagepalli, Chikkaballapura, Sidlaghatta, Bangarpet and Kolar.
“The groundwater level is so low in Kolar and Chikkaballapura districts. It is less than 60 metres below ground level. Most of the borewells have dried up here and many people do not have the resources to dig up new borewells,” an official from the department said.
The depletion of groundwater and the decreasing reservoir levels has resulted in water shortage in the coastal belt as well. On Monday, a notice was issued to all residents of Mangaluru that water rationing would begin. For the next 48 hours, residents of Mangaluru will not receive drinking water supply as the Mangaluru City Corporation is rationing water till June 1.
“They are hoping for rainfall so the inflow in the rivers will increase,” the official added.
According to data obtained from the Karnataka Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts had received above normal rain during the previous monsoon, while Uttara Kannada had faced a shortfall of 586.1 mm. The coastal region received below normal rainfall post-monsoon (180.4 mm) and during January-May (36.6 mm).
“Fresh water flow has stopped in all major rivers in the coastal belt including Netravathi, Phalguni, Swarna, Chakra, Varahi, Sharavathi, Aghanashini and Kali. Groundwater levels have depleted and have reached 30-40 m below ground level in Mangaluru. Water level has reached the dead-storage limit in the Baje dam across the Swarna river, which is the main source of water for Udupi,” the KSNDMC official said.
The agency, which also monitors reservoir levels states that the entire state has only 155 TMC of water in 13 reservoirs. The Hemavathi dam, Tungabhadra dam in Koppal, Ghataprabha and Malaprabha in Belagavi have the least amount of water. Currently, the Tungabhadra Dam has 3% live storage followed by Malaprabha (5%) and Ghataprabha (9%). The Supa Dam in Uttara Kannada district has the highest live storage this summer at 35%.
“Last year, the reservoirs were 40% full when compared to this year. Currently the average water levels in all reservoirs combined is only 19%. Since rainfall was less compared to what was expected last year, several regions in arid north Karnataka have ended up using the water in the lakes much earlier. Now, many of them have to travel 5 to 6 km every day to fetch water. Even though the department is willing to shell out money to provide tanker water, there is no water in the borewells,” the official from the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj said.