The delay in the onset of the South-West monsoon could well be the last straw for Hyderabad to get into a phase of acute drinking-water shortage. The water requirement of the metropolis, whose population is pushing towards the one crore mark, is around 465 million gallons per day (mgd). Traditionally, the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs on the city outskirts have been the main supply sources. However, since 2000, with fast growing population, the government started tapping the rivers Krishna and Godavari.

At present, the tricity of Hyderabad-Secunderabad-Cyberabad are fed up to 260 mgd from Krishna through the Nagarjunasagar reservoir about 150 km away. Another 65 mgd is drawn from the Manjeera and Singur dam/reservoirs. The balance of about 140 mgd is brought in from Godavari via the Yellampalli barrage, says a spokesperson of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water & Sewerage Board.

Drastic fall in levels

The intense heatwave, depleting groundwater levels, has put pressure on drinking water and borewell water supply in urban areas. The drastic fall in levels in Nagarjunasagar to the minimum, below 510 feet, has added to the problems. The situation is marginally better with regard to Godavari, from where about 30 per cent of the water consumed is sourced. Water in the Srisailam reservoir is already below the minimum draw-down level, while Almatti and other upstream projects are almost dry. The problems of Hyderabad get compounded if the rainfall is not adequate in the catchment areas of Krishna in Karnataka and Godavari in Maharashtra. Therefore, monsoon activity in these regions is critical in the next 90 days.

The Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs, built during the days of the Nizams in the 1920s as protection from flooding and for drinking water with storage capacity of 4 TMC ft in an area of 22 and 21 sq km, have fallen prey to encroachments.

As a result of these developments, water supply has been staggered to once in three days by the Board for households. In several areas like Kondapur, Gopanapalle in Cyberabad, borewells have started to dry up with an acute dip in groundwater levels. “We can’t get technicians to repair borewells easily nor can we get tanker waters despite being ready to pay,” laments Venkatrathnam, a resident.

In many localities choking with apartment complexes, come summer, it’s the tanker suppliers who become the familiar face. The rates per tanker of 450 litres to 750 litres shoot up to ₹800-1,200. But even for money, it’s not easy to get drinking water, as the shortage spirals. Even in areas like Yellareddyguda in the heart of the city, apartment complexes struggle for water. Problems are manifold in outlying areas where residents depend entirely on private tankers. The Water Board supplies tankers with online bookings at charges of ₹500 per tanker.

Water Board managing director M Dana Kishore has said that the board would supply tankers 24/7 to affected areas.

Private tankers registered with the board would sell water according to the rates fixed by the latter and tracked through GPRS. Free water supply to slums has been extended for six months. He says that water metering coverage has improved, besides proving effective.