Though the state government has agreed to boost supply to help Mumbai tide over its water shortage, some civic officials warned this could be counter-productive.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, as they are not authorised to speak to the press, they said that some of this additional water is the stock kept aside for use during crises. Every reservoir has such a reserve.
“Using the reserves is not a good idea because if it doesn’t rain well this year either, we’ll have absolutely nothing to fall back on. Even if it’s a normal monsoon, the lakes will take longer to fill up because they’ll have no reserves left,” said the official.
Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar, who offered state help to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday, also asked the BMC to conduct regular water audits and replace old pipes to stop wastage.
Mumbai loses 700 million litres a day (MLD) due to leaks and theft, which is equivalent to the requirement of cities like Pune and Nashik.
The Irrigation Department offered 1.48 lakh million litres and 51,000 million litres in all from Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna, both state dams, respectively.
This will allow the BMC to keep drawing 2,900 MLD from its lakes as it does now with the 15 per cent water cut in place. This would also mean that water pressure in your taps remains steady.
Mumbai needs 4,300 MLD a day, while the BMC managed to supply 3,450 MLD before the water cuts that were necessitated by a poor monsoon.
Bhatsa supplies 1,900 MLD to Mumbai, but will supply 2,029 MLD when required. Upper Vaitarna, which supplies 554 MLD, would supply 683 MLD.
“If the additional water hadn’t been assured, we would have had to intensify the cuts by drawing 200 MLD less in order to keep up supply till July 15,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Anil Diggikar.
Diggikar added that the plan for area-wise day-long water cuts had not been canned. They could be introduced if the situation worsens in the summer.
According to the plan, Mumbai’s 108 water supply zones would be divided into seven clusters — two in the city, two in the western suburbs and three in the eastern suburbs. Each cluster would not be supplied water once a week.
However, even this would not help areas like Versova, Malabar Hill, Chembur and Powai that are at the end of the supply network.