Written by Tharushan Fernando
14 Jan, 2017 | 8:01 pm
Amid the prevailing dry weather conditions, the Department of Meteorology is forecasting that several districts will not receive rain until March.
The gravity of the situation has been exacerbated with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board stating that there is only enough water in major water sources to supply pipe borne water for another three months.
Farmers are among those who are already facing the impact of the water shortage, due to the inability to irrigate their fields.
The Department of Irrigation says that while farmers were instructed to only cultivate between 50 and 60 percent of arable land, the farmers have cultivated 75 percent of arable land.
Irrigation authorities note that only 76 percent of cultivated land can be preserved and that up to 24 percent, amounting to about 35,000 acres, is at risk of withering due to the shortage of water.
While more than 8,000 acres of arable land is cultivated in the Nachchaduwa scheme in Anuradhapura under normal circumstances, this time, farmers have only been able to cultivate 3,000 acres.
Meanwhile, farmers from the Kalthota Agrarian Settlement in Balangoda claim that they were not instructed by any authorities, to limit cultivation.
Water from the Samanala Reservoir irrigates the 2,260 acres of paddy fields in the Kalthota settlement, but the reservoir only contains about 432 cubic meters of water at present.
Given the circumstances, hydro-power generation has already been halted at the Samanala Reservoir.
People in several districts are facing a shortage of clean drinking water.
The National Water Supply and Drainage Board says the water supply to the Kandy, Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Matara and Hambantota Districts has been limited.
The water supply to the Kurunegala town has been reduced to about 12 hours a day since last week, due to the receding water level of the Deduru Oya.
Water supply to the Hatton town has also been limited due to the receding water levels of the Sinhamale and Invorie reservoirs.
The town has only had access to pipe borne water for about 15 hours a day during the recent past
Water levels of the Maussakele, Castlreigh and Upper Kotmale reservoirs have also been falling.
Meanwhile Monaragala town can only access pipe borne water, once every four days.
The prevailing dry weather has had a far more serious impact on the 55 percent of the country’s population, who are dependent on natural water sources for their daily needs.
The Chairman of the NWSDB says the Ceylon Electricity Board has agreed to limit hydro power generation, given the gravity of the situation.
While steps have been taken to drill 400 new tube-wells, measures are also underway to repair and restore about 1,000 tube wells across the country..
Chairman of NWSDB, Alahudeen Ansar called on consumers to be extremely conservative when using water and to only use water for the bare necessities.
He also called for the use of alternative methods to clean homes, wash vehicles and clean drains and also called on the industrial sector not to release any pollutants into rivers.
Minister of Power & Renewable Energy,Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said that the drought has given rise for opportunities to build build new reservoirs and to renovate waterways and anicuts and the President is prepared to deploy the tri-forces for this endeavor to gradually increase the capacity of all reservoirs.
“By renovating all of the waterways, we are looking for a silver lining in this black cloud”, he said.
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