Water crisis looms as KRS level is 2nd lowest in 10 yrs

Scanty rain in catchment areas leaves farmers worried

Water crisis looms as KRS level is 2nd lowest in 10 yrs

The water level in the KRS reservoir in Srirangapatna taluk of the district has plummeted to its second lowest for August 5 in the last decade, heightening farmers’ worries.

The storage this time - 105.21 feet - is the lowest barring the level in the reservoir in 2012, when it recorded 79.3 feet on this day. The dam had almost filled to its brim in five of the last 10 years by August 5. The water storage in the reservoir now is just about half of its capacity of 49.45 tmc ft. 

The present storage is only 27 tmc ft. Of this, four tmc ft is dead storage and four tmc ft is reserved for drinking purposes. This leaves only 19 tmc ft for irrigation. 

Last year, the outflow on August 5 was 49,964 cusecs and the outflow 9,758 cusecs. This year, the inflow is just 780 cusecs and the outflow is 5,064 cusecs.

The water level - which was 109.8 on July 24 - had raised hopes among the people that it would reach the maximum level soon. However, inadequate rains in the catchment areas of the dam in later days reduced the inflow into the reservoir and brought down the dam level. 

During July, water was released to Tamil Nadu, given the decent storage. But the water release was stopped after the inflow decreased. 

However, there is some good news on the farming front as release of water to the canals has led to sowing of paddy on 60,000 hectares (ha) and sugar cane on 35,000 ha. Cultivation of ragi, vegetables and sericulture activities have also picked up pace. 

The water crisis in the Cauvery basin is likely to intensify in the coming days if the prime catchment areas like Kodagu district and Wayanad in Kerala do not receive enough rains in the days to come. 

TN may place demand

As per the award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, the State has to release 50 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu and 40 in September. However, the low storage in the KRS dam and the eventuality of the dry spell continuing could lead to the neighbouring state raising the demand for water. 

The average rainfall in July in Mandya district is 49.5 mm, but this time the rainfall has been only 8.9 mm. The area under cultivation is only 15 per cent. As many as 34 farmers have committed suicide in the district so far due to debt burden and fall in prices of their produce. The fall in storage of KRS could only compound the problems of the farmers, who fear a drought-like situation. 

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