Water levels in important reservoirs consistently dipping: CWC data

Low storage can affect summer crops to be harvested by May-June as well as Kharif sowing

By Shagun
Published: Friday 22 April 2022

Live storage of water in India’s major reservoirs has been continuously dipping amid an early and intense heat wave as well as deficient pre-monsoon rainfall. 

The storage levels in 140 major reservoirs monitored by the Central Water Commission (CWC) fell to 39 per cent of their cumulative capacity from 50 per cent from March 17-April 21, 2022 — a 2-3 per cent dip every week. 

More water is lost to evaporation as the summer peaks, resulting in a dip in water levels. This raises concerns about meeting the daily water needs of cities as well as for summer crops sowed in February or early March and harvested by May-June.

Low water storage due to a delayed monsoon arrival or inadequate rainfall can affect the upcoming Kharif-sowing season. 

It may also pose a challenge in meeting the peak electricity demand as 45 of these 140 reservoirs are for hydropower generation. 

Live storage available in these reservoirs is 68.739 billion cubic meter (BCM), against the total capacity of 175.957 BCM, according to a bulletin released by CWC on April 21. The storage level was 87.703 BCM on March 17. 

The nine major reservoirs in the northern region has the lowest live storage (32 per cent). The western region has 44 per cent live storage, followed by central with 42 per cent and southern and eastern regions with 37 per cent live storage each. 

There are at least 12 reservoirs with storage 10 per cent or lower.

In the 23 meteorological subdivisions of India Meteorological Department (IMD), for which they provide data to CWC, all have recorded deficient rainfall, meaning a departure from normal. 

The highest departure of 100 per cent from normal was recorded in two subdivisions of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Saurashtra, Kutch and Diu, followed by 99 per cent departure in Vidarbha, Gujarat region, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi and West Uttar Pradesh subdivisions. 

The storage position in the reservoirs of these subdivisions is also at a critical stage. For example in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the live storage is only half of its capacity. In the drought-prone subdivision of Saurashtra, Kutch and Diu, live storage is just 28 per cent of the capacity. 

Moreover, out of the 45 reservoirs with hydropower benefit, at least 32 have below 50 per cent storage. 

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