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Chennai's water needs to double in 3 years!

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Chennai's water needs to double in 3 years!

CHENNAI: Things don't look rosy for water-starved Chennai. The latest government data indicates that the city will require 1,584 million litres a day (MLD) in 2017, three times Metrowater's current supply and double the total current requirement of the expanded city.

The available sources — desalination plants at Nemelli and Minjur, aquifers in Neyveli, Minjur and Panchetty, Cauvery water from Veeranam tank, Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh and the reservoirs of Chembarambakkam, Sholavaram, Red Hills and Poondi — guarantee 600MLD now but the growing needs of the 30 lakh population in the expanded areas is worrying water managers.

The government feels there is very little scope of increasing the supply or creating new sources through conventional means. "Considering the demand, the chief minister has ordered setting up a 400MLD desalination plant in Perur and a 150MLD plant in Nemmeli near Chennai," municipal administration minister S P Velumani told the assembly. A detailed report for the two projects costing 5,443 crore has been prepared. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stressing the need for the Centre to bear at least 50% of the estimated cost.

With groundwater levels fast depleting and the current sources not enough to meet the city's needs, Metrowater is now able to supply just 600MLD. Last year, it supplied 831MLD. The 100MLD desalination plants at Minjur and Nemmeli have not been able to run to full capacity always and the government may have to set up more desalination plants in future, sources said.

Krishna water from Andhra Pradesh helps but only to an extent. On Friday, after much persuasion, Andhra Pradesh released water from Kandaleru reservoir for this year. The agreement between the two governments guarantees 12tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of Krishna water in two spells every year. "Last year, the supply was only 5.665tmcft. This year, we hope it will pick up pace from 500 cusecs to 2,000 cusecs," a senior PWD official said.

The combined storage in the city's four reservoirs stands at 1.8tmcft against the total capacity of 11tmcft, painting a grim picture. However, good rains in the catchment areas of the Western Ghats has meant the level at Mettur is picking up and water from there will reach Veeranam tank in Cuddalore and then be transported to Chennai via pipelines. "The new reservoir coming up at Thervaikandigai in Tiruvallur can help retain one tmcft of Krishna water," a senior official said.

As population surges, Chennai?s water needs to double in 3 years - The Times of India
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