Vihar lake, which supplies water to Kurla and other parts of the city, is drying up. Due to insufficient rains and gradually dipping water levels, the lake, which supplies 110 million litres of water daily, will now need help from other reservoirs to survive.
Pramod Charankar, deputy municipal commissioner, said: “The water in Vihar will only last 50 days, and to keep the lake alive we will divert water from Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa dams.”
Together, these two lakes will infuse 100 million litres of water daily (MLD) to keep water supply to that area going. The lake did not overflow this monsoon, and is only 36 per cent full. As of now, it holds 9,690 million litres, which is way below the 26,949 million litres it held this time last year.
This is the first time in the history of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that water needs to be diverted from one reservoir to another.
“The transfer of water from Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa to Vihar will have affect water supply to the island city and its eastern suburbs (which get their water from the Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa),” said a senior civic official requesting anonymity.
The situation in the other five lakes is not particularly rosy either, and the water cuts already in force in the city will escalate from October 25 or 26.
“We will need to increase the water cuts as the lakes are only 75 per cent full. We are in the process of chalking out the pattern in which the cuts will be implemented. In winter, it will 30 per cent, in summer — when individual water requirement is higher — it will be 20 per cent,” said Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak.
The civic body is also in talks with the state irrigation department to let them withdraw more water from Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarana dams, which are owned by the state government.
Besides Mumbai, both dams also supply water to other parts of the state. Mumbai gets 1,365 MLD water from Bhatsa and 554 MLD from Upper Vaitarana — both located in Shahpur taluka of Thane district.
Current water stock in all six lakes is 9.83 lakh million litres. Last year, that number was 12.73 million litres.
To survive this year’s unprecedented water crisis, the BMC plans to dig 335 borewells across the island city, 156 in the western suburbs and 205 in the eastern suburbs. “We are also looking at recycling and desalination as options,” added Charankar.