Reservoirs crammed, however faucets should still run dry attributable to Metrowater’s poor distribution plan

CHENNAI: has declared that the city reservoirs have enough drinking water to see Chennai residents through this summer. But data on the civic body’s over the past three years has revealed that the assurance may not hold good for at least 10 of the 15 zones in the city.
An reply from Metrowater shows that the Teynampet, Kodambakkam, Adyar, Anna Nagar and Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar zones receive almost 80% of the daily supply to city homes. Of the seven lakh Metrowater connections in the city, 4.5 lakh are concentrated in these five zones. Residents in the 10 remaining zones may have to wait years before equitable distribution of water becomes a reality. While north Chennai continues to be neglected, residents in the have been waiting since 2011 for installation of underground water pipelines. Residents of Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Perungudi and Sholinganallur barely have 10,000 water connections each, while zones in the core city have about one lakh connections each.

In all its public declarations last year, Metrowater claimed it was supplying around 500 mld, but the RTI reply shows Metrowater supplied only 283 million litres per day (mld), on an average, in 2017. Metrowater, which supplies 830mld on a regular basis, has reduced the supply last year after failure of the northeast monsoon. In 2016, Metrowater claimed it supplied 830mld, but data shows it distributed only about 520mld.

Some officials, however, refute the data. According to the agency’s zone area engineer says, his office ensures a supply of 40mld, whereas data shows only 11mld was supplied. “We draw water from multiple sources. The RTI reply may not have taken all sources into account. We draw from Anna Poonga, Kannapar Thidal, Triplicane and Kilpauk Water Works for supply to Royapuram,” said the engineer.

Water supply is yet to commence in some of the extended areas where work on installing underground water pipelines was completed a year ago. Ambattur zone has been granted 32,000 water connections so far, but residents received an average of only 1.3mld last year. “I got my Metrowater connection in August 2016 and am yet to receive water,” said S , general secretary of Federation of Ambattur Residents’ Welfare Association. This despite paying water charges for the past two years. As compared to 2016, groundwater level fell by 10ft in the area during the drought in 2017, which is the worse in 140 years, forcing residents to depend solely on private suppliers.

Groundwater in each zone has to be taken into account when distributing water, say experts. Hydrogeologist J Saravanan of Rain Centre said, “When Metrowater supply dips, residents depend on groundwater and private suppliers. But no study has been conducted on aquifers. Knowing more about the groundwater resource will enable officials to distribute water better.”

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