The water level at Sukhna Lake has sunk below 1,153 feet (ft), adding to the worries of officials and experts engaged in its restoration work.
The water level recorded on Monday was 1,152.95 ft, more than 10 ft below the ideal benchmark of 1,163 ft. This means more than 60 per cent of the lake area does not have more than three ft deep water.
The harsh summer has taken its toll, with the water receding by 8 mm every day, officials said.
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“The maximum water-holding capacity of the lake is 537.84 hectare metres. However, at the current level, the water is less than 20 per cent of its total capacity,” said Dr Suhas Khobragade of the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, who is involved in the administration’s efforts in restoration of the lake.
There is no danger of the lake going fully dry unless the water level goes down to 1,151 ft, he said, but added that the alarming scenario may become a reality in case the city does not get good rainfall this monsoon.
According to him, the situation at the lake was far more comfortable in 2013 when the water level rose to 1,161 ft post-monsoon. It had water levels up to 1,154 ft before the onset of the monsoon in 2014. But due to rainfall deficit, last year’s monsoon did not take the water level up beyond 1,156.8 ft.
Khobragade said people must understand that good rainfall is crucial for the lake’s survival and they should not panic in case its water level fluctuates due to weak monsoon, which might be the case once every few years.
“But if we take a stand that the lake is meant for the city’s recreational purpose and we can’t see it drying up every now and then, the Administration must find an alternative means to maintain its minimum comfortable level,” he said.
For now, the Administration is banking on good rainfall. Santosh Kumar, conservator of forest-and-director, environment, said, “We hope for a good monsoon that will take the Sukhna water level up.”
However, the Met department is not as enthusiastic.
Surinder Pal, regional Met officer, said the city had so far recorded 29 per cent deficit rainfall in June and there are forecasts that August and September might also face dry conditions.