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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lake levels hit a 3-year low

Mumbai: A miserly monsoon has taken down the stock in the six lakes that supply water to the city to a three-year low. On Thursday, the combined volume of water in the reservoirs was 696,504 million litres per day (mld), just about enough to last Mumbai for 199 days. In comparison, as of August 2 last year, the volume was about 100,000 mld more. 

    Still, the BMC says that people should not panic since at least one reservoir is expected to experience enough rain to tide over the crisis. "Throughout the past week, the Mokhada area in Thane district has received good rainfall. As a result, Middle Vaitarna, which is located there, has begun filling up. Water there has already crossed the reserve level and is at 253 metres, the volume being 52,892 mld. If it continues to rain in Mokhada, the lake will overflow and Modak Sagar, which is connected, will start filling up," said a seniorBMC official. He said one could expect 455 mld from Middle Vaitarna, which is what the BMC had promised about the dam project. Mumbai currently faces a water shortage of 1,100 mld. 
    In the last week of July, officials shut Middle Vaitarna's gates to allow the catchment area of the downstream Modak Sagar to fill up. The civic body, though, has not made any official announcement of water being released from the Middle Vaitarna dam. A source said the civic body in all likelihood would have to draw water from 
there to meet the shortage. 
    The numbers tell how severe the shortage is this year. In 2009, when the state experienced a drought, the six lakes—Modak Sagar, Tansa, Vihar, Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa—had a stock of 721,933 mld as of August 2. Compared to this year's 199 days, given the rate of about 3,500 mld that Mumbai receives, the city then had an additional week's worth of water, or 25,429 mld. 

    Nevertheless, BMC officials remain optimistic. "The monsoon lasts till September. Even thought it has not rained properly since the beginning of the season, the chances are that the rains will pick up in August," said deputy hydraulic engineer A S Tawadia. "Even experts from the metrological department have predicted that the city can expect moderate to heavy rain in the coming week."


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