The worst drought in two decades has brought the spectre of water rationing for Bangaloreans during the summer months this year, and water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai dropped enough hints about it on Monday.
The poor storage in the KRS and Kabini dams in the Cauvery basin has forced the state government to contemplate taking some harsh measures to ensure the available water is used judiciously for drinking purposes till June, the month when the rains arrive. The state government has already decided not to release water for irrigation in Cauvery basin, as the storage in Kabini reservoir has almost touched 'Dead Storage' level.
The KRS has a storage of just about 6tmc and Bangalore needs about 1.3tmc every month for its drinking water needs. The water rationing, if implemented, would see a ban on using Cauvery water for wasteful purposes like washing of vehicles and gardening.
Basavaraj Bommai has convened a meeting of the dam engineers of Cauvery basin reservoirs at Vidhana Soudha on Tuesday to discuss the issue. Engineers from the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) also will attend the meeting.
Speaking to reporters, Bommai said: "We will decide on the measures to be taken to ensure adequate drinking water supply till the end of the summer. We are contemplating introducing rationing system, besides looking at the possibility of optimally exploiting ground water,'' Bommai said.
When specifically asked as to how the rationing of water would be planned, Bommai said it was still in consultation process and would come out with a plan soon. The present water storage — including live and dead storage — in the KRS and Kabini reservoirs will last only till the end of April.
Asked if the department had any plans to remove silt to increase the storage capacity of the reservoirs, Bommai said his department wanted to take up de-silting programme in a big way with private participation but did not get a good response. "So, we have decided to remove only the annual accumulation of silt. A report is being prepared by experts in this regard,'' he said.
The minister expressed confidence of meeting the city's drinking water needs.