Even as the Centre sounded a drought-alarm for most parts of western India, Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) says it is sitting pretty as far as water resources for daily supply to the city are concerned. VMC is essentially relying on predictions for rains next week even as the city’s Ajwa water reservoir is slowly inching towards the crisis mark of 208 feet.
At 209.5 feet, currently the Ajwa reservoir, which forms a major part of the city’s water supply system, can pull through the next month and a half without rain, officials said. The ideal water level for Ajwa is 213 feet. The city also draws water up to 250 Million Liters per Day (MLD) from Mahisagar through tubewells and about 37.5MLD from its Khanpur plant, which is half the capacity it can actually acquire.
Mahisagar is currently standing at 28.21 feet. Officials said that so far Vadodara city is not facing an acute water crisis because the corporation had recently “acquired” water from the Narmada canal.
Shailesh Mistry, Executive Engineer, Water Supply Department, VMC said, “Ajwa is about one foot above the crisis mark of 208, but there is no reason to worry, as the monsoons are expected to arrive by next week. Our present resources can see through the next one month without rains. We had also borrowed water from Narmada canal recently, which has helped.”
The Khanpur waterworks project near Sherki, officials say, receive unspecified amount of water from a Narmada project canal branch passing by during “maintenance work” carried out by officials of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL). However, the Khanpur plant has been unable to function to its full capacity of 75 MLD because of coordination issues with SSNNL, officials say.
Mistry admits that if the rains elude the city for longer than expected and the level at Ajwa reservoir drops to 208 and below, the corporation will feel the pressure. “So far, the Mahisagar weir storage, Ajwa and Khanpur plant are helping us ensure adequate water supply in the city. If it rains as per predictions by next week, we will be self-sufficient without needing to borrow from any where else.”
The main sources of water for the Vadodara city are the Sayaji Sarovar (Ajwa) on the northeast and Mahi river on the northwest of the city. On an average, VMC draws 45-50 MLD from Sayaji Sarovar. Tubewells are an alternate source of water supply in VMC. Due to the low drawl from these tubewells, the water table in the city does not get impacted.
According to an infrastructure assessment report available on the VMC website, “The average water table in the city is around 20 metre and gets recharged regularly due to presence of perennial rivers in the north. These tubewells are used in case of shortage of surface water. With the help of these wells, VMC has been tiding over the water crisis in the past couple of years, especially during draught situations.”
Although the VMC officials seem to downplay the existing water shortage in the city, residents in several areas are facing water shortage on a regular basis.