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Current lake levels barely enough, will last only two months: BMC

Officials say the civic body is in the process of issuing tenders for cloud-seeding in anticipation of insufficient rainfall.

The level of Bhatsa lake, which accounts for 59 per cent of Mumbai’s water supply, currently stands at 113.1 metres which is dipping closer to its lower limit of 104.90 meters. The level of Bhatsa lake, which accounts for 59 per cent of Mumbai’s water supply, currently stands at 113.1 metres which is dipping closer to its lower limit of 104.90 meters. (Express archive)

With fear of an El Nino effect in the Indian sub-continent and preparations under way for carrying out cloud-seeding in the event of a poor monsoon season this year, latest statistics from the BMC water supply department show that the six lakes supplying water to Mumbai have barely enough to last two months.

Collectively, the useful water content of the six lakes — Modak Sagar, Upper Vaitarna, Tansa, Vihar, Tulsi and Bhatsa — stands at 2.41 lakh million litres of water. Daily, the civic body supplies around 3,300 million litres of water to the island city and suburbs of Mumbai, which is still short of the demand for 4,200 million litres of water.

The level of Bhatsa lake, which accounts for 59 per cent of Mumbai’s water supply, currently stands at 113.1 metres which is dipping closer to its lower limit of 104.90 meters. Of this, the usable content is 1.1 lakh million litres. During the monsoon season, it should reach its maximum limit of 142.07 metres to ensure sufficient water supply to the city for the rest of the year.

A senior civic official of the water supply department said, “The lake levels can assure water supply till July 31. We are in a better situation with water supply this year in comparison to the previous year because we received good rainfall in 2013. However to keep up with the city’s demands, it is crucial we have a good season of rainfall as we cannot rely on the expensive cloud seeding technology.”

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The official said the corporation was in the process of issuing tenders for cloud-seeding, in anticipation of insufficient rainfall. Cloud-seeding is a process of aerially injecting hydroscopic material into rain clouds to induce rainfall. The technology, if used,  is, however, expected to dent the civic body’s budget by about Rs 15-20 crore.

Based on a global warning about the El Nino effect that refers to the warming of surface waters of oceans, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted less a than normal rainfall this monsoon and is expecting the onset of the season on June 5 at Kerala coast.

“We are hoping that the rains will pick up by mid-July and August and we will not have to depend on cloud-seeding,” said the senior official. While the levels of Tulsi, Vihar and Tansa lakes which account for nearly 10 per cent of the city’s water supply are at 134.72, 74.73, and 121.38 meters respectively, the usable water content in all three lakes is collectively about 35,000 million litres which is much lesser than their position recorded in 2013, at about 43,000 million litres.

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Upper Vaitarna and Modak Sagar together account for 29 per cent of the city’s water supply. Currently, Upper Vaitarna’s levels are at 596.35 meters, barely above its lower limit of 595.44 meters. Meanwhile Modak Sagar’s level, at 154 metres, is the only lake to show an improvement in position from the previous year when the level was recorded at 145.96 meters at the end of May. The usable content in Upper Vaitarna and Modak Sagar combined is significantly higher at 89,789 million litres from 2013, when the useful content stood at 29,016 million litres.

alison.saldanha@expressindia.com

First published on: 02-06-2014 at 03:56:44 am
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