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Dry earth: A view of the bone-dry Chembarambakkam reservoir.  

Satellite images indicate an alarming level of loss of water extent in lakes in and around Chennai. Dry conditions apart, the crisis has been exacerbated by a lack of proper management.

Instead of ad hoc measures such as ferrying water from distant watersheds to the city, what is needed are sustainable solutions to make it water secure.

Here's a look at how the water in some of Chennai's major reservoirs has shrunk over the recent years.

The satellite images show the water extent in select lakes in 2016 and then in 2019. In 2016, the lakes peaked in storage due to floods the previous year. Chembarambakkam, which overflowed in 2015, is dry with less than 1 mcft of water remaining as of June 2019. Puzhal has gone bone dry, the Poondi reservoir has barely any water left.





(Source: Raj Bhagat Palanichamy, WRI India; Satellite images from Copernicus Sentinel, LandSat (USGS/NASA), EC-JRC)

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