The city’s just got over a serious water crisis — a deficient monsoon last year necessitated a 15 per cent water cut that was lifted only after Mumbai received above-average rainfall this year — but the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to identify the problems ailing its ageing, creaking distribution network.
Despite the water cut having been lifted, several parts of the island city are still not getting enough water. “There are glitches in the distribution system due to which water supply to the island city is not reaching the consumers in full,” said senior civic officials of the Water Department on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
The BMC’s attempts to plug leaks, improve distribution and conserve water have fallen short. About 20 per cent of the supply is lost to theft and leaks.
Shiv Sena corporator Ravindra Waikar said that, with the reservoirs full, the BMC is once again ignoring the problems of theft, illegal connections and leaks. “The situation is favourable at present, but if no attempt is made to stop wastage of water it will create problems in the future,” he warned.
Though all six lakes supplying water to the city are full, the daily supply of 3,350 million litres a day (MLD) cannot be raised as the carrying capacity of the pipelines is limited. If more water is pumped through them, they could rupture.
The daily demand in Mumbai is 4,200 MLD.
Of the 3,350 MLD Mumbai gets, 1,140 MLD goes to the island city, 890 MLD to the eastern suburbs and 1,320 to the western suburbs.
An additional 130 MLD is supplied to villages in Shahpur district and 165 MLD to Thane district.
Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya admitted that the BMC cannot draw more than 4,000 MLD. “If we try and supply more, there is a possibility of a series of pipe bursts. The pipes are in a dilapidated condition,” he said.
Kshatriya also admitted that leaks and theft were a major problem.
For the last few months, not enough water is reaching the master balancing reservoir at Bhandup, where water is filtered and distributed through smaller reservoirs across the city.
“As a result, other reservoirs, such as the ones at Malabar Hill, Worli and Raoli Camp, are not getting enough water. This causes distribution problems,” said Kshatriya.
Residents in areas at the end of the distribution chain bear the brunt of this. They are the ones who face the most severe water shortage as they are the ones that are supplied last.