The southern Indian city of Bangalore, the country's IT capital, is facing potentially severe water shortages as its main water storage facility, the Krishnaraja Sagar Dam, is currently only holding 28.3 million cubic meters of water, just enough to meet the city’s requirements for 20 more days.
Supplies from the Cauvery River have also dropped by as much as 100 million liters a day as of May 15. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board had been withdrawing 1.15 billion liters of water a day from Cauvery River until May 13.
“We had to cut the drawing limit to maintain the levels in our reservoirs. This is the first time we are facing such a severe scarcity since Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s inception in 1964. Only rain can help resolve the situation,” The Hindu newspaper quoted a top official at the board as saying.
The board has requested an increase in releases upriver to try to maintain a storage level at the Krishnaraja Sagar Dam.
“As this too is not enough, a total of [28.3 million cubic meters] has also been released from the Hemavathi [River] in the last four days. But all the water has not reached the dam because of sand mining and encroachments along the river line. Although we had requested more water, the Irrigation Department stopped release of water from [May 15],” said an official in charge of Cauvery projects.
He added that the Indian Supreme Court’s decision in February to release some 68 million cubic meters to Tamil Nadu state has turned out to be disadvantageous for Bangalore, which is located in neighboring Karnataka state.
An “unprecedented water crisis” could result if rain does not fall in the next few days, the official warned. As much as 73.6 million cubic meters of water is needed to maintain supplies in the city until the monsoon rains arrive.
“If more water from the Hemavathi is not released, we may have to draw water from the dead storage. This requires preparation and precautions, as it will be the first time that the dead storage will be touched,” the official said.
“We also want people to come up with suggestions on how to manage the situation,” he added.
In March, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board kicked off a Save Water campaign to focus on water conservation by the most privileged people, who the board thinks can reduce their use so that others do not end up being deprived of water.
“With no proper monsoon since last summer, there's little water in the reservoirs and the responsibility to share Cauvery water with Tamil Nadu have put us in a crisis. We appeal to people to use water judiciously so that someone else is not deprived of drinking water," said Board Chairman Gaurav Gupta.
Experts are sure conservation is the city’s best option.
"It's important to change traditional norms of water consumption like using 3-liter flush tanks instead of 6-liter ones, ensuring that running water used while washing cars drains into a rainwater harvest pit, no taps are kept open and leakages are plugged," said V. Vishwanath, principal architect at water conservation NGO Rainwater Club.