What Chennaiites do for water: Dig, buy, check, wait
Deccan Chronicle| B Vijayalakshmi
As city's four reservoirs have reached almost dead storage level, metro water has begun tapping quarries and lakes.
A scene from Triplicane where people rush to get a pot of water. (DC)
Alarmed by the steady decline of groundwater levels across the city owing to poor rainfall, Chennaiites have begun pulling out all the stops to get water.
With 100-150 feet deep borewells not yielding water in several areas, residents have begun sinking second borewell up to a depth of 600-800 feet hoping for a water resource that could sustain them for some more years. While some of them are lucky, others are disappointed. With TDS more than 500 mg/ litre, water from such borewells is not potable.
As city’s four reservoirs have reached almost dead storage level, metro water has begun tapping quarries and lakes. Besides supplying quarry water, metro water has identified three more lakes in the city which will help in managing the crisis to some extent. The water from those lakes will be tested, treated and distributed soon.
However, metro water has cut the daily supply through pipes. But, free water is supplied through lorries to some areas where people stand in serpentine queue for a pot of water.
Meanwhile, those who want paid metro water supply wait for a week to get their delivery following rising demand. Cashing in on this crisis, private water tanker operators charge high rates. Several apartments and gated communities in South Chennai and on OMR, who rely on private water tankers, feel helpless during this season.
With metro water planning to provide bulk supply to gated communities, residents in these areas hope for some relief. Since borewells and metro water do not quench parched throats, residents nowadays prefer packaged drinking water. But the recent crackdown by the food safety and drug administration department on packaged drinking water units not adhering to norms revealed contamination in mineral water. Water cans did not have labels and some labels were damaged. Cans were also seized for misbranding. Contaminated water from several filthy cans was emptied onto roads during crackdown.
As Chennai’s cup of water woes overflows, people look up longingly at the skies waiting for rain.