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Dry spell in Mumbai: BMC in a watch mode as water levels in lakes freeze to 18%

In the past 10 days, there has not been a significant increase in the water levels at seven lakes supplying drinking water to the city
By Mehul R Thakkar, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 10, 2021 11:07 PM IST

In the past 10 days, there has not been a significant increase in the water levels at seven lakes supplying drinking water to the city.

According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s data, the water level is 18% in the seven lakes that will be sufficient for the next 70 days. However, this is less than the last two years. At this time, the city had around 80 days of water stock in 2020 and 100 days in 2019. The lake levels have not gone up significantly owing to less rainfall in July.

According to BMC’s data, Vihar Lake that is located inside Mumbai was over 61% full followed by another lake inside the city- Tulsi Lake was 74% full. Last year at this time, both Tulsi and Vihar had a mere 67% and 41% of water level.

Further, Bhatsa, which supplies 55% of the total annual water requirement, the water level is 18 down from 22% last year at this time. In Tansa, the water level is 30%, which was 20% last year at this time followed by Modak Sagar having 31% of the water stock that was 33% last year at this time. In the case of Upper Vaitarna, the water level is 0%, as of Tuesday. Last year at this time too, there was no water left in the Upper Vaitarna dam. Lastly, Middle Vaitarna has 11% of water stock that was 18% last year at this time.

On the other hand, Powai Lake that supplies water to the civic body for non-potable purposes overflowed on June 12 this year. Last year, Powai lake was full on July 5. The seven lakes are bifurcated into two systems, the Vaitarna system supplies to the western suburbs and the island city, and the Bhatsa system supplies to the eastern suburbs. The lakes are situated in Mumbai as well as neighbouring Thane and Palghar districts.

The civic body supplies 3,850 million litres of water daily against the city’s demand for 4,200 million litres. To meet the shortfall, the BMC has been exploring several ways to increase the water supply to the city. Two weeks ago, the BMC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the BMC and an Israel-based firm for the city’s first desalination project at Manori in Malad. Under this project, BMC plans to turn seawater into drinking water, and the pilot project is expected to be ready by 2025.

On the lake levels, a BMC official from the hydraulics department said, “We are yet to get the rainfall for the month of July. Hence, any decision on water cuts will now depend on how much rainfall we will get in the month of July. However, the forecast of rainfall for this year is good, and a decision will be taken in the coming days based on how the rainfall patterns are there in the month of July.”

Meanwhile, the city had experienced a 20% water cut last year in August 2020 amid the covid outbreak owing to the low level of water storage in the lakes. BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal had also prepared a backup plan to bring water to Mumbai from Bhandardara dam in Ahmednagar if required. Before 2020, no water cut was imposed in 2019, owing to good rainfall in catchment areas. But BMC had imposed a 10% water cut in 2018, a 20% cut in 2016 and a 25% cut in 2014.

Box:

Upper Vaitarna

July 09, 2021: 592.61

July 09, 2020: 594.67

Middle Vaitarna

July 09, 2021: 240.28

July 09, 2020: 248.77

Modak Sagar

July 09, 2021: 150.98

July 09, 2020: 151.44

Bhatsa

July 09, 2020: 114.44

July 09, 2020: 116.50

Tulsi

July 09, 2021: 137.59

July 09, 202: 137.09

Vehar

July 09, 2021: 78.05

July 09, 2020: 76.81

Tansa

June 09, 2021: 122.56

June 09, 2020: 121.41

Water storage capacity: 1,447,363 million litres

Livestock on July 09, 2021: 261,644 million litres

Livestock on June 09, 2020: 289,157 million litres

Livestock on July 09, 2019: 417,943 million litres

BMC daily supplies: 3,850 million litres drinking water against demand of over 4,000 million litres

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