Episode
July 22, 2019

What happens when a megacity runs out of water?

A severe water shortage has upended the lives of nearly 11 million people in the southern Indian city of Chennai. In this episode we'll talk about the impact of the crisis and what happens next.
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On Monday, July 22 at 19:30 GMT:

One of India's largest metropolitan cities is almost out of water. Over the past year, three of Chennai's four major reservoirs have dried up, upending the lives of many of the south Indian city's nearly 11 million residents. It's become harder to bathe regularly, wash clothes and dishes and keep hospitals running. Some people are leaving the city to stay with relatives. The shortage has also prompted many restaurants, hotels and other businesses to shut.

The government is sending in thousands of water tankers each week, and there are long lines at each one of them. A special train is also bringing in some 2.5 million liters of water from a dam 250km away. But real relief won't arrive until November, with the beginning of the monsoon season. And that's only if the rain doesn't disappoint like it did in recent years.

Climate change and a booming population have taxed Chennai’s water supply. But poor government management is getting most of the blame for the current crisis. Officials have failed to regulate water usage, allowing farmers and residents to drain aquifers beyond sustainable levels. Rapid urbanization has also made it difficult to replenish water tables with rain, as much of the city's lakes and wetlands have been paved over.

Chennai's crisis is being watched closely in India, where 21 major cities are at risk of running out of groundwater by next year, according to a government think tank. But the situation also serves as a cautionary tale for other countries that are water-stressed, including Morocco, Iraq, Spain and South Africa. We'll take a look at Chennai's water woes and ask what the world can learn from this crisis. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Veena Srinivasan, @veenas_water  

Senior Fellow, Ashoka Trust 

https://www.atree.org 

 

Raj Bhagat Palanichamy, @rajbhagatt

Data Manager, WRI India

https://wri-india.org/ 

 

T M Krishna, @tmkrishna

Musician, Artist, Activist

https://tmkrishna.com/ 

 

Read more:
India’s Water Crisis Is Man-Made - Bloomberg
Despite monsoon, taps run dry in Indian megacity Chennai – Al Jazeera
Life in a City Without Water: Anxious, Exhausting and Sweaty – New York Times

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