If numbers are anything to go by, Karnataka's capital city is bracing itself for a thirsty summer. Bengaluru that ideally requires 1440 (MLD) million litres per day is currently getting only 1350 MLD. The shortage is only going to get worse with water reserves on an all-time low in the state's dams and reservoirs. The BWSSB is gearing up to drill more borewells, add additional water tankers to its fleet and repair existing borewells to tap into groundwater to fulfil potable water needs of the city.
Going by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal, close to 19 TMC feet water has been allocated for potable purposes for Bengaluru. As per the Karnataka government's order, 600 cusecs of Cauvery water is released from KRS dam on a daily basis to Bengaluru. As of now, the city receives water from Cauvery phase I, II, III and IV stage 1 and 2. As on March 2, 2017, the city receives 143 MLD from Cauvery phase I, 140 MLD from phase II, 327 MLD from phase III, 299 MLD from stage 1 of Phase IV and 441 MLD from stage 2 of Phase IV.
Water in reservoirs and dams reach alarming levels
According to estimates of the Bengaluru water supply and sewage board, the city requires 6.32 TMC feet water throughout summer while the current availability at KRS dam is barely 7.15 TMC. The same is to be used to provide potable water to Mandya, Mysuru and Maddur.
Water levels in dams across Karnataka have reached alarming levels even before summer has kicked in. The state government has already stopped released water for irrigation purposes across districts. As on March 2, 2017, the water level at KRS stood at 7.15 TMC ft as against last year's level of 13.52 TMC ft.
The scenario is not very different at Kabini where water level stood at an alarming 0.95 TMC ft as against 2016's level of 4.33 TMC ft. Hemavati has also recorded a dip in water levels with 2.28 TMC Ft as against 2016's level of 4.40 TMC ft. Harangi has recorded water levels of 1.32 TMC ft on March 2, 2017, as against a lower level of 0.57 in 2016. The fact that the water level is higher than what it was last year in Harangi gives little to cheer since the dam's live storage capacity is 8.07 TMC ft.
The government is now contemplating bringing all private borewells under its ambit if it is unable to fulfil the potable water demands despite attaching more tankers. If water supply fails to fulfil the requirements, the government will consider rationing supply to cities like Bengaluru and stop pumping from Cauvery Phase I, II and III on a daily basis.