Indian reservoirs brimming as monsoon advances

Storage levels in 123 reservoirs monitored by Central Water Commission was 194 % of the levels of corresponding period in 2019

By Shagun
Published: Friday 26 June 2020

Major reservoirs in India are already brimming and their storage level is much more than what it was this time in 2019, even as the southwest monsoon advances over India.  

The live storage available in 123 reservoirs monitored by Central Water Commission (CWC) was 194 per cent of the live storage of corresponding period of last year and 171 per cent of storage of average of the last 10 years.

Live storage available in these reservoirs now is 56.725 billion cubic metres (BCM), which is 33 per cent of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs, according to a weekly bulletin issued by CWC on June 25, 2020.

The live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period in 2019 was 29.166 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 33.207 BCM. 

Reservoirs in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have already recorded 100 per cent or more departure from normal storage. This also raises fears of floods caused by these reservoirs if the water levels are not managed efficiently. 

Most river basins monitored by CWC also have better-than-normal storage. For instance, live storage of the Ganga, Narmada, Sabarmati, Tapi, Mahanadi and Godavari is over 100 per cent more than the average of the last 10 years. 

Rivers in Bihar, where flood alerts have been issued, are flowing in ‘severe situation', according to the CWC flood forecast and many show a ‘rising’ trend. The Chandan dam in Bihar’s Banka district already has 100 per cent storage with respect to its full reservoir level. 

Birpur Barrage on the Kosi River discharged 1.76 lakh cusecs by 2 PM on June 26, the highest discharge this month, according to data available with Bihar’s Water Resources Department. 

The position of some important dams, that have been responsible for inducing floods in the recent past due to mismanagement of water levels, was also worrisome.  

Hidkal and Malaprabha dams in Karnataka’s Belagavi district — one of the worst-hit in the 2019 floods — also had more stored water than last year.

Increased release of water from Maharashtra after heavy rains has led to a rise in water level in the Krishna and its tributaries in Belagavi district. The percentage of this year’s storage at Hidkal and Malaprabha was 19 and 28 per cent, compared to last year’s one and two per cent respectively.

It also led to heavy inflows into north Karnataka, raising the water level in the Almatti dam in Vijayapura district. Live storage in Almatti dam, which was a contentious issue between Maharashtra and Karnataka last year, is 44 per cent, much more than last year’s eight per cent and last 10 year’s average of 14 per cent. 

The inflow on June 26 was 16,396 cusecs and the outflow was just 1,130 cusecs. The Maharashtra government had alleged during last year’s floods that the Karnataka government did not release water from the Almatti dam on the Krishna and the backflow caused flooding in the Kolhapur and Sangli districts. 

Koyna, Warna, and Radhanagari — three big dams in Maharashtra’s upper Krishna basin, responsible for floods in 2019 — also stored more water than last year, as of June 25. Koyna dam had 30 per cent live storage, much more than last year’s six per cent and last ten year’s average of 22 per cent. 

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