CHENNAI: Water supply from the four city reservoirs will not last more than a fortnight as the water stored has hit rock bottom. Private agricultural wells are now being used by Chennai Metrowater for tapping water to fulfill the city’s growing demand and reduce the supply gap.
In the upcoming month, the city has to support for a decrease in the volume of drinking water supply by 50 million liters a day (MLD) after the use of city reservoirs is stopped. Chennai Metrowater now supplies 550 MLD per day through pipelines and tankers. Water drawal from the Cholavaram reservoir through the giant pipeline stopped recently as the waterbody went dry.
This is one of the worst scenarios in recent years. Metrowater officials recalled that the storage position in reservoirs was better with 729 mcft even on May 3, 2017, the year when the city experienced one of its worst droughts in 140 years.
To overcome the worsening water crisis in Chennai, Metrowater has started supplying water from private agricultural wells in Tamaraipakkam and Minjur regions. Around 300 wells are identified by the water agency from where up to 90 MLD of water would be drawn for the city supply. For now, about 50 MLD is being extracted from agricultural wells, apart from 40 MLD supplied from wells owned by Metrowater.
Chennai Metrowater is also getting ready to draw from agricultural wells near Poondi, at the rate of nearly ₹3 per kiloliter, later this month. Water extracted from Tamaraipakkam and Poondi would be sent through a pipeline to Red Hills for treatment and distribution, said an official.
The water agency identified one more source – abandoned quarries – which would soon be used, as work to pump 10 MLD of water collected in abandoned quarries in Erumaiyur near Tambaram started on May 3. Officials said nearly 10 MLD would be supplied from the five quarries from June. Water from the quarries would also be transported to Chembarambakkam treatment plant for supply. An official said, “We have tested the quality of raw water that has a total dissolved solid level of less than 100 mg/1. It is considered excellent for drinking.”