The water crisis in Tamil Nadu is intensifying, and dams and reservoirs which serve as primary sources of water for the general public are fast drying up across the state. In Chennai for instance, three reservoirs are likely to stop supplying water to the city in a matter of just three days as 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 less than one per cent of of their total capacity. The reservoirs that had held 2.8 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water last year in the corresponding period, now hold only 58 mcft (million cubic feet). Pumping of water from Chembarambakkam was stopped last month and Cholavaram was stopped last week. Water in Red Hills reservoir, according to reports, may last another two days. Water in the Poondi reservoir which is at 54 tmcft (received from the Krishna river) is likely to last a week.
In other parts of the state too, fast depleting water resources remain a concern. Papanasam dam, which caters to the needs of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts, has seen its water level drop down to 10 feet. The maximum storage level of the dam is 143 feet.
With water levels in Papanasam dam plummeting, Tirunelveli is now dependent on its biggest dam Manimuthur.
With the delta reeling under drought, prospects of ‘kuruvai’ paddy crop appear bleak. Mettur dam, considered the mainstay for farmers in the central parts of the State, now has a storage of less than 16 tmcft. This is against the dam's total capacity of 93.47 tmcft. This means that authorities cannot open the dam on the scheduled date of June 12.
The Vaigai dam built across the Vaigai river in Theni district has also depleted considerably from January 2019. It provides drinking water to Madurai, Dindugal and parts of Theni district. According to report,s the water levels are currently at 35.04 feet as opposed to its storage capacity of 71 feet.
Three dams - Aliyar, Amaravati, and Krishnagiri have actually seen an increase in water levels in May due to thunder showers (pre monsoon showers/ Mango showers). And while protests are underway in Krishangiri and Dhramapuri, officials believe that situation will improve in the region.
Image credits: Contains Modified Copernicus Sentinel Data [2018,2019]; Processed by Raj Bhagat Palanichamy using Sentinel Hub