Water storage in South raises concern as level drops to 26% of capacity

Almost two-thirds of the major 150 Indian reservoirs were filled below 50 per cent of the capacity this week as the storage level dropped for the 22nd consecutive week.

Also read: Water storage in over 50% of India’s major reservoirs down to less than half of capacity

According to the Central Water Commission, the storage this week in reservoirs was 73.297 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 41 per cent of the live storage of 178.784 BCM. During the same period a year ago, the reservoirs were filled 83 per cent of the capacity and the average for the past 10 yeas is 96 per cent. 

Nearly 50 per cent of the major reservoirs — 72 of them — had a level below 40 per cent of the capacity with the situation in the South being a little worrisome. Water in about 10 dams was in the single digit, while a few more could join the list in a week or two, raising questions over the availability of water even for drinking.

Drinking water crisis

Karnataka, which has been one of the worst-affected States in the country due to El Nino that led to deficient rainfall in the State, has 26 per cent below normal storage with its capital Bengaluru complaining that a few areas have run out of groundwater. 

The situation in Andhra Pradesh is of concern as the water level is 62 per cent below normal — the highest in the country — while reservoirs jointly owned by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are filled 53 per cent below normal. 

With no rains forecast in the South for now, things could turn grim until the south-west monsoon sets in around June 1 and the reservoirs may not begin to witness inflows at least until July-end. This could put pressure on zaid or summer crops besides kharif sowing, experts said.

Storage in North, East

According to CWC weekly bulletin on live storage status of the major reservoirs, the water level in the southern region was 26 per cent of the 53.334 capacity at 13.844 BCM. 

 Of the 42 reservoirs in the region, the level in 33 is below 50 per cent with the storage being 24 per cent and six per cent below normal, respectively, in Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Kerala has a level one per cent above normal. 

In the northern region, the storage in 9 of the 10 reservoirs is below 50 per cent of the capacity. Of the total capacity 19.663 BCM, the reservoirs are filled to 35 per cent at 6.944 BCM. Northern reservoirs can, however, look to the melting snow to increase the water level in the coming months.

In the eastern region, 10 of the 23 reservoirs had a storage below 50 per cent of the capacity. The storages were filled to 53 per cent of the  20.430 BCM capacity at 10.732 BCM. The levels in Bengal, Bihar and Nagaland were below normal.

Also read: Indian reservoirs’ storage declines for 20th week in a row 

Of the 49 reservoirs in the western region, 24 were filled below 50 per cent of the capacity. The storage in the region was 51 per cent of the  37.130 BCM capacity at 18.825 BCM. Maharashtra’s storage was 10 per cent below normal.

Of the 26 reservoirs in the central region, 17 had a level below 50 per cent of their capacity. Uttar Pradesh (-27 per cent below normal), Uttarakhand (-27 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (-24 per cent) had lower storage. Of the 48.227 BCM capacity, the level was 48 per cent at 22.952 BCM.  

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