Mumbai residents should brace up themselves for further water cuts after September 15, if they don't make a conscious effort to save water, a senior civic official from the water department told dna on Friday. According to the official, lakes are the only dependable source of water in the city and thus we will run out options if the water levels continue to deplete due to inadequate rainfall this monsoon.
The six lakes — Upper Vaitarna, Modak Sagar, Tansa, Bhatsa, Vehar and Tulsi — supply portable water to the city, with Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa supplying 640 and 2012 million litres of water per day respectively. The newly-constructed Middle Vaitarna also has enough reserve water, assured civic officials.
According to the civic official, if there is not enough rains this monsoon, the situation of 1993, where the civic body had to implement a water cut of up to 40 per cent could also arise.
Moreover, the BMC doesn't have a proper record of the number of the wells in the city, from where water can be supplied to residents. "We have asked all the 24 wards to submit a record of the number of wells in their wards, but only two wards have given us the record so far," the official said.
Figures from the water department reveal, there are about 18,000 wells in the city. However, civic officials are not sure how many of them have portable water. "In any case, the wells would provide hardly 5 per cent of the total potable water supplied to the city. Moreover, even if the BMC cleans up a well, we are not sure if the locals will even use it," the civic official rued.
Desalination of sea water, which was one of the options that BMC had contemplated during the water shortage problem in 2009, doesn't feature in the civic body's plan of action now as the project has turned out to be very expensive. Neither is the civic body considering cloud seeding as an option since it would again not yield enough water for the lakes.
Ensuring implementation of rainwater harvesting is yet to take off in a full-fledged way, with a lack of staff at the rainwater harvesting department at the civic body.
With the sprouting up of water mafia in the H west ward, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) zonal president Tushar Aphale has written to the suburban collector and BMC on Friday, asking them to take control over the private wells in the ward and provide water to the citizens from there.
Aphale informs that in rural areas of Maharashtra, the collector has the power to carry out requisition of private wells. "The collector supply water to the locals from private wells and pay the well owners in turn. We have requested the collector and the BMC to exercise the same power in the h west ward since there are many private wells here," said Aphale.
"This would reduce the misuse of potable water by the water mafia," he added.