How the landlocked city gets its water

A delayed monsoon has multiplied water problems in Delhi.

The water levels of the Yamuna at the Wazirabad Dam reached the lowest level in 56 years in July 2021. The drastic drop in the water level affected the water production in the Wazirabad water treatment plants , Okhla and Chandrawal which supply drinking water to the center, north, west and south of Delhi.

Delhi is a landlocked city and receives raw water from neighboring states, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana. Most of the water comes from the Haryana via the Yamuna through three different channels.

The water is treated in various purification stations before being supplied to the inhabitants of the capital.

When there is a drop in the amount of raw water Delhi receives from these three states, it affects the national capital’s water supply. Delhi and Haryana have long disagreed over the allocation of Yamuna water.

The Yamuna has its source in the Yamunotri Glacier in the Himalayas and crosses Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi before its confluence with the Ganges.

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The stretch of the river from its origin to Okhla in Delhi is called the “Upper Yamuna”. In 1994, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the five states of the Yamuna basin, including Delhi and Haryana, for the sharing of the waters of the upper Yamuna.

In 1995, the Center formed the Upper Yamuna River Board to regulate the allocation of Yamuna water that flows through these states. However, especially during summers, Delhi complains of receiving less water from Haryana and the latter denies this most of the time.

The Composite Water Management Index report published by Niti Aayog in 2018 is an assessment of how States and Union territories manage their water. According to the report, 21 major cities, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, will soon reach zero water table. Delhi finished at the bottom of the Index.

According to Delhi Jal Board estimates, groundwater only covers 10% of Delhi’s drinking water needs. The rest comes from surface water sources, most of it coming from outside Delhi.

Delhi faces several other water-related challenges, such as access to water for the urban poor residing in slums and the discharge of untreated sewage and industrial waste into rivers, such as the Yamuna .