Mumbai Faces Worst Water Shortage in History

Published on July 14th, 2009 | by

The BBC has reported that twenty million residents of Mumbai, India’s largest city, are facing an acute water shortage, that is perhaps the worst since 1966 when the city’s municipal authorities had an evacuation plan in place for affected people.

photo by mohit.edChildren play in the water as traffic comes to a halt in Mumbai.
Children play in the water as traffic comes to a halt in Mumbai.

The Times of India tells us that back in 1966, Mumbai’s requirement was 1,557 million litres of water per day, while its supply was only 930. Today, the 3,450 million liters of water per day, that is drawn from the city’s six lakes, fails to meet the growing demand. 

“The first 15 days of July 1966 have come back to haunt us. Tales from those days are still narrated in the water department when we face a minor crisis every year when monsoon is delayed,” said a senior official of the hydraulic department.

Mumbai’s water supply comes from the city’s lakes. Like many Indian cities, it is dependent on the monsoon rains to replenish the supply of water in its catchment areas.  Municipal authorities have cut water supplies by 30% to help deal with the current shortage. There is no water supply to non-essential services such as swimming pools. 

All this is in spite of the fact that heavy rains on July 8th have crippled normal life in the city. Even though trains have been delayed and rainfall is expected over the next few days, there is speculation that Mumbai may have only 20 days of water left unless the catchment areas receive more rain.


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