Despite two weeks of rain in Chennai, major reservoirs continue to record 90% lower storage levels compared to last year. In fact, according to the Central Water Commission, Tamil Nadu is witnessing the highest drop in storage levels in the country.
According to data put up by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board, as of August 19, the total storage in Poondi, Cholavaram, Redhills and Chembarambakkam comes up to 157 Mcft (million cubic feet). The storage last year on the same day was 2,846 Mcft. That would mean that the reservoirs are facing a shortage of 94.5% compared to 2016.
"The rains have done little to help the lack of water availability in Chennai," confirms a Metro Water official. "We need 830 MLD (Million litres per day) to meet Chennai water requirements. Currently we manage to supply close to half that quantity of water," he adds.
As per figures put up on Saturday, the Poondi reservoir which had 620 mcft of water last year, has only 21 mcft now. Cholavaram is yet to receive any water while Redhills stands at 23 mcft. Water levels in Chembarambakkam have risen but are still far lower than 2016.
"We are already depending on agricultural wells, mines and quarries for water," says the Metro Water official. "This will remain the case till the rainfall increases," he adds.
Tamil Nadu has been facing its worst drought in 140 years. Both the South West and North East monsoon failed in 2016. This meant that the state kept drawing water from its reservoirs even while there was no inflow. Reservoirs were facing extremely low levels of water supply.
But even as parts of the state including the capital battle water scarcity, the water level in the Krishnagiri reservoir has crossed the critical level of 49.50 feet, registering an inflow of 2,648 cusecs on Friday. In its wake, a flood alert has been sounded across the banks of River Thenpennai, crossing about five districts- Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Tiruvanammalai, Villupuram, and Cuddalore.