In what’s becoming an increasingly common story, a major city has run out of water.
Chennai, India is home to 4.65 million and today their is a severe deficit of water to serve their needs.
This situation is indicative of morass of issues increasingly stressing water supplies not just in Chennai but around the world: poor management, overusing groundwater, and a shifting climate turning the hydrological cycle on its head.
The city had gone nearly 200 days without rain, and after a weak 2018 North East monsoon season that runs from October-December, the four reservoirs that serve the city began to wither away earlier this year.
Add in the intense heat that gripped India in May (though the worst of it was to the north of Chennai) and the withering process went into overdrive as water evaporated into the cloudless sky.
Background warming has also raised Chennai’s temperatures about 1.3 degrees Celsius over the past 60 years meaning even without heat waves, climate change is altering the hydrological cycle.
But the problems for Chennai’s water supply extend beyond low rainfall.
The city has seen its population grow by double digit percentages every decade since the 1940s. The huge growth coupled with weak planning has led to a water system that’s both overtaxed and widely inefficient.
The rapid urbanization has also paved over once permeable surfaces, reducing groundwater recharge rates. Chennai’s reservoir capacity also remains well below what’s needed to serve the population and there’s no water metering program in place, meaning already scarce water resources aren’t being monitored for overuse.
For now, only rain can save Chennai from this situation but for future we need to
- harvest more rainwater,
- start a water reuse program,
- improve irrigation efficiency so more water makes it to reservoirs
- conserve flood plains and lakes
The water wars are knocking on our doorsteps…
We know almost all that has been written above…Please Act Now.
Reference- Earther, ScienceDirect, Springer, Chennai Government website