South India still water-stressed despite decent monsoon

Despite a decent monsoon season, water levels at storage facilities in India continues to be below those of last year as well as the 10-year average.

Of particular concern is the situation in South India, only 39% of the total capacity of the reservoirs has been filled so far.

Usually, the number should have been close to 67%. Last year, when India had deficient monsoon, the storage level in South India as of Sep 7 was 44% — higher than today.

India had poor monsoons in 2016 and 2015, which hurt power production and agriculture, particularly in the central and southern regions of the country.


The overall numbers have been dragged down by the poor water levels in southern reservoirs, which account for about one third of the 158 billion cubic meters of capacity in the 91 reservoirs tracked by the government.

On a pan-India basis, the total quantity of water in the 91 reservoirs is about 58% of their total capacity. Normally, by now, about 69% of the capacity should have been filled.

The dams serve as a source of drinking water, and are also used for irrigation as well as for power production. 37 out of the 91 dams have power production facilities attached with a combined capacity of over 60 megawatt.

The reservoirs are estimated to account for about 62% of India’s total artificial water storage capacity.

Water levels were below the 10-year average in four of the five zones in India, but were above average and last-year levels in the Northern zone.

However, the northern zone accounts for only 11.4% of the total water storage monitored by the ministry of water resources.

Despite this, some states did report better levels than last year.

These were Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala.

Punjab had levels similar to last year.

However, most states reported lower levels compared to last year.

These include Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

On a zonal basis, the northern region reservoirs were filled up to 86% of capacity, while the normal level for the week is 79%.

The eastern region dams were filled up to 62%, which is below the 66% average for the period and 75% recorded last year.

The western Indian dams were filled up to 69% of their capacity, which is below the 71% average and the 75% recorded last year.

In the central zone, reservoirs were filled up to 59% of their capacity, which is below the 67% seen on average and 87% recorded last year.