krishna raja sagar dam
Cauvery water row: Without rain, Bengaluru could face drinking water shortage in January Pictured: Krishna Raja Sagar damFlickr

Bengalureans are in for a tough summer if the monsoon is delayed as drinking water will be available only up to June 15, said Karnataka water resources minister MB Patil on Monday. He advised that the city starts rationing water consumption. 

He also added that Karnataka is in no position to provide water to Tamil Nadu right now referring to the long fight over Cauvery water between the two states. 

The Supreme Court had ordered Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu every day on March 21, 2017. However, the minister said that they have not released extra water to the neighbouring state since October. 

After reviewing water levels in the state's reservoirs, Patil told farmers to stop using irrigation pump-sets as "the state cannot afford water for the second crop." His department would coordinate with other departments to ensure efficient use of water. 

He also appealed to the people to use water judiciously, emphasising on the seriousness of the acute water shortage in the growing city. 

"The Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB)'s daily requirement will be met. The current estimates suggest we can afford to give 800 cusecs of water every day , and the current storage will last for 60 days. Drinking water will be available till June 15. Water rationing is advisable if the monsoon is delayed," said Patil.

While the city requires 600 cusecs a day, the water resources department will release 800 cusecs from the Krishna Sagar (KRS) and Kabini dams for BWSSB as there are leakages and water evaporation. Villages along the route also use Cauvery water.  

"It's up to the BWSSB how it does the rationing. Principal secretary (water resources) Rakesh Singh will have a second meeting with BWSSB chairman Tushar Giri Nath to discuss the details," the minister said.

Rural areas to feel the heat too

It is not just the BWSSB but also the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board and the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department that could start water-rationing so that the current water can be used for a longer period of time. 

This move will affect farmers and others dependent on agriculture. 

The government said that it has asked Maharashtra to release 2 tmc ft water from Krishna river for villages in Belagavi district. However, the western state said it can do so only after Karnataka releases 1.2 tmc ft water from Indi Branch Canal to Sholapur in Maharashtra, which they will be able to "release only after May". Karnataka buys water from Maharashtra for the Belagavi district. 

KRS hitting dead storage

The KRS reservoir with a capacity of 124.80 ft was at 75.24 ft at 6 am on Monday, April 10. The previous year on the same day the water level in the reservoir was 81.39 ft. 

The current water storage level is close to dead storage i.e. 74 ft. 

According to officials, the reservoir would reach dead storage if the outflow is not reduced. 

Patil said that they'll take a call later if the dead storage at KRS and Kabini will be used.