Thursday 30 May 2024


Water at reservoirs dwindling at double speeds as summer peaks



Mid-April, when summer begins to peak, is that time of the year when engineers manning the water supply division of the Public Works Department (PWD) begin to wear creases on their foreheads. Water levels at reservoirs start dwindling at double speeds making treatment and further distribution to various geographical areas right to the taps in everyone's homes a challenging job.

This year is no different. The levels of water in reservoirs of at least three of the six dams in the State have dropped to 50 per-cent but the WRD Minister Subhash Shirodkar and his engineers are assuring that there's nothing to worry and raw water will be available to see Goa through until the monsoon arrives in June.

However, it is quite a challenge for the PWD engineers in charge of the water treatment plants at these reservoirs who have to ensure sufficient volumes are treated and pumped into the distribution system which through a web of pipelines and storage tanks or reservoirs ensures water reaches everyone's homes. 

Opa-Khandepar reservoir

The reservoir and the water works at Opa-Khandepar caters to the thickly populated talukas of Ponda and Tiswadi and always faces a crisis in summer months due to the extreme heat contributing to a high rate of evaporation. 

There are five water treatment plants which the PWD manages at Opa collectively treating about 160 million litres a day from the reservoir and pumping it into the public distribution system of Ponda and Tiswadi talukas. In the summer, however, the engineers of the PWD have to be mindful of the water levels and rely on the WRD to replenish the Opa-Khandepar reservoir by pumping water into it through bhandaras from Ganjem and Selaulim.

For several years now, Opa-Khandepar reservoir gets  replenished in the summer months with water pumped into it from Selaulim and from the Ganjem water scheme.  At the peak, nearly  70 MLD is pumped into the Khandepar river which feeds the Opa water works.


Yet consumers face the brunt

All may be well and "under control" at the source of North Goa's water supply system -- the dam supported reservoirs -- as claimed by engineers of the WRD and PWD but problems persist at the tail-end of the water distribution network comprising a web of pipelines and intermediate ground level reservoirs and overhead tanks which ultimately ensure the water reaches homes and establishments.

Complaints of people either not getting water at all or what flows from their taps is just a trickle keep pouring in from geographically sporadic areas in North Goa and the tall claim of 24x7 water supply which was to be achieved by 2018 seems a sham. 

Six years beyond the 2018 target date, even eight-hours-a-day of water supply to the end user is still a far cry.

Heavy distribution losses 

It's not unusual to see water shooting out of pipelines and going to waste across Goa. Such incidents captured by netizens in videos and posted on social media networks, often go viral.

A top PWD official, who did not want to be identified, admitted that loss of treated water in the process of distribution is at a staggering 35-40 % in Goa. 

"Theft (unmetered use of piped water) and leakages due to old, corroded pipelines are the main reasons for such losses," the official said, adding that the process of replacing old pipelines is an ongoing process.

He also said that these losses will soon be brought down with the project of installing smart meters outsourced to an external agency.

But the fact of the matter is losses are huge and consumers face the brunt, sometimes due to shortage of water and at other times lack of sufficient water pressure to reach consumers at the tail-end of distribution pipelines in many localities.

The official said, most of the water supply issues raised by people are very localised, restricted to that particular area.

"These are not systemic breakdowns. Temporary problems pop up here and there and are attended to by the respective divisions and sub-divisions of the PWD as soon as the problem gets reported," the official added.

With another eight-nine weeks to go before the monsoon sets in, tending to citizens' water woes could pose a daunting challenge to the water supply divisions of the PWD across the State.


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