While Cape Town in South Africa is being touted as the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of water, Bengaluru is not far behind.
Bengaluru is second in a list of 11 cities that are facing the imminent threat of running out of water based on an UN-backed study, published by the BBC. The study has projected that global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.
None of the 67 lakes and tanks in the city evaluated by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board in December last year are fit for drinking or bathing. Only 46 of them were fit for propagation of wildlife and fisheries, while six were fit for irrigation and industrial cooling. Only two could serve as a drinking water resource after undergoing conventional treatment and disinfection. Additionally, 13 of them were dry at the time of evaluation. The KSPCB tests water quality every month and the figures arrived at are an average of pollution levels from January to August for the year.
According to an IISc paper in 2006, the storage capacity of lakes in Bengaluru has reduced from 35 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic feet) in the 1800s to five TMC in 2016. Of this only 1.2 TMC can be used because of massive siltation. “Sufficient water is available to meet requirements of all citizens provided water harvesting is undertaken,” the paper reads. “This requires rejuvenation of lakes and re-establishment of interconnectivity; harvesting of rainwater (at decentralised levels), treatment andreuse of sewage.”